Mark A. Davis, Ph.D.
Mark A. Davis, Ph.D., is a conservation biologist, evolutionary ecologist, and herpetologist with a focus on the conservation of North American fish and wildlife. Both taxonomically rich and ecologically diverse, Dr. Davis’ research strives to understand the processes over evolutionary time that have shaped extant species’ genetics, morphology, and ecology, while seeking insights into how contemporary threats influence the endangerment process. Throughout his career, Mark’s research has maintained a particular focus on North American pit-vipers. From Prairie Rattlesnakes in the badlands of the Dakotas, to Ridge-nosed Rattlesnakes in the Sky Islands of the desert southwest, to Eastern Massasaugas in Illinois’ corn desert, he has developed an integrative approach aimed, ultimately, at promoting successful adaptive management of these fascinating, yet much maligned, rattlesnakes. Specifically, he has merged phylogenetics, geometric morphometrics, and ecological modeling to disentangle the evolutionary history of the Western Rattlesnake complex, fused population genetics, demographic modeling, species distribution modeling, and movement analyses to assess threats to persistence of the federally threatened New Mexico Ridge-nosed Rattlesnake (Crotalus willardi obscurus), and merged conservation genetics and demographic modeling to inform management of the Illinois state endangered Eastern Massasauga (Sistrurus catenatus). Simply put, Mark’s goal is to develop multiple robust lines of evidence and employ them to conserve rattlesnakes: icons of the American west and key components of our natural legacy.
Dr. Davis currently resides at the Illinois Natural History Survey as an Associate Research Scientist in Landscape Genetics. He also serves as Illinois’ Interim White Nose Syndrome Coordinator, and is co-chair of the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes Landscape Conservation Cooperative’s Coastal Wetlands working group. He is an active member of numerous scientific societies, including the American Association of Ichthyologists and Herpetologist, the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, and the Herpetologists’ League, as well as several conservation organizations. Mark has co-authored several peer reviewed publications, numerous technical reports, multiple popular articles, and is a contributor to the forthcoming Rattlesnakes of Arizona volume. In addition, he has delivered over 50 scientific talks, conducted over 10 invited seminars, and has conducted a broad array of outreach to various groups.