Mitch Eaton Joins the NY Coop Unit Staff

Mitch Eaton has joined the NY Coop Unit  in Natural Resources as the Assistant Unit Leader for Ecology.  Mitch began his new position on December 5, 2011, following a 3-year postdoctoral stint at the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center.  There, Mitch worked under the direction of Jim Nichols and Mike Runge (a Cornell alumnus) to develop methods and applications in structured decision making (SDM) and adaptive management (AM) for the U.S. Department of Interior’s (DOI) management of the nation’s natural resources.  Mitch also spent a significant portion of his time at the DOI’s National Conservation Training Center and on the road leading workshops and teaching professional courses in SDM, AM and modeling to managers and field personnel.

In addition to teaching and leading workshops, Mitch was actively involved in consulting on several pressing management problems where he was able to apply models and formal decision analytical techniques to help improve recurrent resource decisions.

He helped develop an adaptive management program for improving fire-adapted scrublands to benefit populations of Florida scrub-jay and other scrub-dependent fauna and flora.  The program involves a novel occupancy model to integrate scrub-jay and habitat dynamics to optimize habitat management decisions.  Mitch is also consulting on an adaptive management project focused on recovery of the endangered Lower Keys marsh rabbit, also in Florida.  He and his collaborators have developed a new, spatially-explicit approach to model patch-level dynamics as a function of the occupancy status of neighboring patches.  The model incorporates  historical data, collected without regard to estimating non-detection, in addition to data collected under the current protocol.  It’s never good to have to throw out data!  This work fits into broader management framework that will include non-native predator control and habitat manipulation to aid in the recovery of this species.

With the Division of Migratory Bird Management (FWS) and Wildlife Services (USDA), Mitch helped formulate national policy guidelines for the management of overabundant double-crested cormorant populations and resulting human-wildlife conflicts in the US Great Lakes and southeast aquaculture facilities.  This work has led to a notice of intent submitted to the Federal Register for public comment on a proposal for a revised Federal Environmental Impact Statement.

In addition to quantitative decision analysis, Mitch has a background in international conservation, ecology and population genetics.  He received his MS degree from the University of Minnesota, where he developed market-based indices to evaluate harvest sustainability of mammal communities in Congo, Central Africa.  For his Ph.D. at  the University Colorado, he assessed the systematics, phylogeography, and population demography of a lesser-known species of crocodile in Central and West Africa.

Mitch is originally from Colorado and comes to Ithaca with his wife, Ellen.  Together they enjoy traveling, hiking and cooking.  In addition, Mitch likes to ski, fish and is learning to hunt deer, waterfowl and upland game.

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