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Brad Timm

Graduate Student (PhD)


Brad Timm earned his PhD from the Department of Environmental Conservation at the University of Massachusetts in 2013, his MS from the same department in 2007, and his BS from the Department of Natural Resources Science at the University of Rhode Island in 2002. He is currently a post-doc in the Landscape Ecology Lab in the Department of Environmental Conservation at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Brad's post-doctoral work is focused on modeling Mexican spotted owl distribution in a contemporary landscape in the southwestern United States and using a spatially-explicit landscape disturbance-succession model (RMLands) to examine the historical range of variation in spotted owl habitat and the potential impacts of alternative future land management scenarios aimed at restoring historical ecological processes and patterns.

Brad's dissertation research was entitled: Breeding habitat characterization, movement ecology, and assessment of road impacts to populations of Eastern spadefoot toads (Scaphiopus h. holbrooki) at Cape Cod National Seashore.

The Eastern spadefoot toad is a unique member of the amphibian fauna here in the northeastern United States, belonging to a family of toads (the spadefoots: Pelobatidae) that are adapted to desert environments. Of the 7 species of spadefoot toads found in North America, the Eastern spadefoot is the only species found east of the Mississippi River, and lies at the northernmost extent of its range here in Massachusetts.

While this species is relatively abundant throughout the southern portion of its range (Florida and the southeastern coastal plain), here in New England the Eastern spadefoot is among our rarest amphibians. This species is listed as either state threatened or endangered in the three New England states in which it is known to occur (MA, CT, and RI), and populations are few and far between throughout, with exception to Cape Cod.

Recent work at Cape Cod National Seashore (NPS) has documented significant populations of spadefoot toads throughout the Park, likely comprising the greatest concentration of this species in the Northeast. However, to date, there has been limited research conducted with respect to spadefoot toads at the Park as well throughout the remainder of the Northeast, and much of the information known at the current time has been obtained via incidental observations.

In order to provide for more effective management of this species at Cape Cod, as well as rangewide, a greater understanding of life history and population ecology attributes must be gained. To this end, Brad's research is focused on: 1) identifying and characterizing breeding/non-breeding sites at Cape Cod National Seashore; 2) assessing the terrestrial movement ecology of this species via radio-telemetry; 3) identifying specific meteorological and environmental conditions stimulating movement events; and 4) predicting impacts increased groundwater withdrawal rates may have on populations of this species.

As well, impacts of road mortality on populations of pond-breeding amphibians is a concern that is gaining more attention, both publicly and scientifically, over recent years, and likely has a significant negative impact on populations in increasingly developed areas. Data collected over recent years during nocturnal roadway surveys at Cape Cod National Seashore has documented significant road mortality of spadefoot toads during movement events, and it is unknown whether the current rates of road mortality are sustainable over the long-term. Using nocturnal roadway surveys and a combination of other methods, Brad's work will quantify road mortality of spadefoot toads and assess the impacts this may be having on local and regional populations, which can then be used as a model for populations of other pond-breeding amphibians in other regions.

For more information, please contact:
Dr. Kevin McGarigal
Department of Environmental Conservation
University of Massachusetts
304 Holdsworth Natural Resources Center
Box 34210, Amherst, MA 01003
Fax: (413) 545-4358; Phone: (413) 577-0655
Email: mcgarigalk@eco.umass.edu

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