116 Holdsworth

Primary Interests

My research focus is on ecological modeling at a landscape scale to inform conservation actions by federal and state agencies and conservation organizations. I’m especially interested in how modeling can inform reserve design and connectivity for multiple species in the face of climate change. As a member of the Landscape Ecology Lab, I’ve worked on a number of applied conservation projects in recent years, including Designing Sustainable Landscapes, CAPS, and Critical Linkages.

In addition to projects at UMass, my modeling has been incorporated in several projects by other organizations, including Massachusetts Audubon’s Losing Ground (fourth edition, 2009), Massachusetts Natural Heritage’s BioMap 2 (2010) and BioMap 3 (2022), and The Nature Conservancy’s Resilient Sites for Terrestrial Conservation (2016).

Current Projects

Designing Sustainable Landscapes, a landscape change and assessment model for the northeastern United states, a project of the North Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative (NALCC), funded by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. I’m a member of a five-person team that has developed an integrated modeling framework to assess ecological integrity and representative species habitat in the given future climate and landscape change throughout 13 northeastern states. The model is applied to create a landscape conservation design (see and, to help inform conservation by partners including federal and state agencies, and conservation organizations such as the Nature Conservancy and local land trusts. More info:

Conservation Assessment and Prioritization System (CAPS), a coarse-filter biodiversity assessment methodology.  As a member of a research collaboration between the Landscape Ecology Program and UMass Extension, I have had a major role in design and implementation of CAPS.  CAPS is a system to model ecological integrity using a number of metrics which assess the content, spatial character, context, and condition of each point in the landscape.  The results are used to guide conservation planning.  CAPS has been applied to all of Massachusetts both as a conservation planning tool and as part of the regulatory framework of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. We have also applied CAPS as part of a highway mitigation project in southern Connecticut and as a planning tool for a commuter rail project in eastern Massachusetts. More info:

Critical Linkages, a scenario analysis tool based on CAPS, used to prioritize infrastructure mitigation (culverts, dams, and placement of road passage structures), in conjunction with the Massachusetts Executive Office of Transportation and The Nature Conservancy. More info:

Status assessment for the Blanding’s Turtle (Emydoidea blandingii) in the Northeast, an assessment of the eastern populations of this imperiled turtle for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. I led this project, working in conjunction with state, federal, and academic rare species biologists.


Zeller, K. A., B. W. Compton, S. P. Finn, E. C. Palm. 2024. Measuring ecological connectivity with ecological distance and dynamic resistant kernels. Landscape Ecology 39:95.

McGarigal, K., B. W. Compton, E. B. Plunkett, W. V. DeLuca, J. Grand, E. Ene, and S. D. Jackson. 2018. A landscape index of ecological integrity to inform landscape conservation. Landscape Ecology 33:1029–1048.

McGarigal, K., E. B. Plunkett, L. L. Willey, B. W. Compton, W. V. DeLuca, and J. Grand. 2018. Modeling non-stationary urban growth: the SPRAWL model and the ecological impacts of development. Landscape and Urban Planning 177:178-190.

Homa, E.S., C. Brown, K. McGarigal, B.W. Compton, and S.D. Jackson. 2013. Estimating hydrologic alteration from basin characteristics in Massachusetts. Journal of Hydrology 503:196-208.

Albanese, G., Davis, C.A., and Compton, B.W. 2012. Spatiotemporal scaling of North American continental interior wetlands: implications for shorebird conservation. Landscape Ecology 27:1465-1479.

Steen, D.A., J.P. Gibbs, K.A. Buhlmann, J.L. Carr, B.W. Compton, J.D. Congdon, J.S. Doody, J.C. Godwin, K.L. Holcomb, D.R. Jackson, F.J. Janzen, G. Johnson, M.T. Jones, J.T. Lamer, T.A. Langen, M.V. Plummer, J.W. Rowe, R.A. Saumure, J.K. Tucker, and D.S. Wilson. 2012. Terrestrial habitat requirements of nesting freshwater turtles. Biological Conservation 150:121-128.

Jones, M.T. and B.W. Compton. 2010. Glyptemys insculpta (wood turtle) maximum adult size. Herpetological Review 4:71.

Compton, B.W., K. McGarigal, S.A. Cushman, and L.R. Gamble. 2007. A resistant-kernel model of connectivity for amphibians that breed in vernal pools. Conservation Biology 21:788-799.

Gamble, L.R., K. McGarigal, and B.W. Compton. 2007. Fidelity and dispersal in the pond-breeding amphibian, Ambystoma opacum: implications for spatio-temporal population dynamics and conservation. Biological Conservation 139:247-257.

Timm, B.C., K. McGarigal, and B.W. Compton. 2007. Timing of large movement events of pond-breeding amphibians in Western Massachusetts, USA. Biological Conservation 136:442-454.

Rappole, J.H., B.W. Compton, P. Leimgruber, J. Robertson, D.I. King, and S.C. Renner. 2006. Modeling movement of West Nile virus in the western hemisphere. Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases 6:128-139.

Steen, D.A., M.J. Aresco, S.G. Beilke, B.W. Compton, E.P. Condon, C.K. Dodd, Jr., H. Forrester, J.W. Gibbons, J.L. Greene, G. Johnson, T.A. Langen, M.J. Oldham, D.N. Oxier, R.A. Saumure, F.W. Schueler, J. Sleeman, L.L. Smith, J.K. Tucker, and J.P. Gibbs. 2006. Relative vulnerability of female turtles to road mortality. Animal Conservation 9:269-273.

Compton, B.W., J.M. Rhymer, and M. McCollough. 2002. Habitat selection by wood turtles (Clemmys insculpta): an application of paired logistic regression. Ecology 83(3):833-843.