Patuxent Wildlife Research Center

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Patuxent Wildlife Research Center--Core Capabilities

Staff Capabilities

Patuxent has a core of 65 scientists and over 100 support staff working to fulfill the Center's mission and goals. Nearly all scientists have advanced degrees in such core fields as ecology and wildlife biology. Others have degrees in such fields as statistics, veterinary medicine, recreation, and geochemistry. Most function in a multidisciplinary mode. Patuxent's scientists have extensive professional experience in their disciplines, and many are internationally known for their research and other professional accomplishments, such as distinguished editorships and presidencies of major scientific societies. Many hold joint appointments with universities. Patuxent scientists have extensive practical experience in providing technical assistance to resource managers and in the transfer of information and technology. Resumes of all scientific staff are available on the Patuxent Wildlife Info-Net system.

Geographic Capabilities

A critical mass of field and laboratory scientists and support staff are co-located at the Center's headquarters in Laurel, Maryland, near Washington, DC, using the extensive facilities and collaborative opportunities provided at the headquarters campus. Scientists also are dispersed within a "virtual" Center, with individuals strategically stationed to allow them to more efficiently and effectively conduct their research, work with partners, and provide technical assistance. Patuxent scientists working in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution are stationed at the National Museum of Natural History where, among other scientific work, they are in charge of caring for the national collections of bird, mammal, reptile, and amphibian specimens. In cooperation with other scientific centers, the National Park Service, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Patuxent scientists are also based at the Cape Cod National Seashore, the National Park Service Boston Area Office, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Chesapeake Bay Field Office and Vicksburg Field Office, the National Capital Parks in Washington, D.C, and in Colorado, Arizona, and Guam. In order to better collaborate with the scientific and educational opportunities available at research universities, Patuxent scientists also are strategically placed on university campuses in Maine, New York, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Georgia.

Focus Capabilities

The scientific capabilities of the Center reside in the expertise of its scientific staff. The disciplinary capabilities of the Center are as follows. They are listed to coordinate with Part IV of the Plan and are neither exhaustive nor in priority order.

  • biodiversity monitoring
  • taxonomy and inventory of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians
  • bioindicator development and application
  • long-term ecological research and monitoring
  • wild life population ecology
  • migratory bird management
  • waterfowl management
  • habitat management
  • landscape and ecosystem management
  • invasive species ecology
  • contaminants and ecotoxicology
  • international wildlife conservation
  • restoration ecology
  • coastal zone management
  • wetland management
  • National Park and Refuge management
  • risk assessment and ecological modeling
  • dissemination of wildlife population information
  • dissemination of contaminant information
  • dissemination of information concerning natural resources on Federal lands

Other Technical Assistance Capabilities

  • recreation and other human impact in national parks
  • environmental toxicology testing and analysis
  • biometrics and design of experiments
  • wildlife veterinary services
  • information resources management
  • wildlife library services
  • science administrative services
  • research and refuge facilities operations


For over 60 years, the Patuxent Research Refuge has been home to the Center's headquarters. The Refuge's 13,000 acres straddle the Patuxent River within the critically important Chesapeake Bay watershed. Situated in the complex agricultural and urban landscape of the Baltimore - Washington corridor, the Center's location offers significant opportunities for studying the interaction of reserved lands with a developing landscape. The Refuge provides a variety of habitats for study, including the river itself, its riparian zone, natural and constructed wetlands, forests, woodlots, ponds, old fields and maintained fields. Areas are set aside for field-scale experimentation and demonstration. Complements to the Center's field sites are its excellent chemical and biological laboratories. The Center is well known for its facilities for studying captive wildlife populations, especially endangered species.

Patuxent scientists also have available the extensive facilities of partner agencies such as cooperating Universities and Federal forests, parks, and refuges. Patuxent scientists conduct their studies over large parts of North America. Active study sites are located in such places as Acadia National Park, Cape Cod National Seashore, Long Island, Delaware Bay, Chesapeake Bay, Virginia Barrier Islands, Sapelo Island, the Southeastern Coastal Plain, and the Lower Mississippi Valley, as well as more distant sites - Belize, Guam, Guatemala, and Peru.

Data Management and Delivery

Patuxent has superior capabilities for electronic data processing, managing of extensive data bases, and their electronic delivery. These unique capabilities allow Center scientists to assume national responsibility for organizing, managing, and dispersing data from inventory and monitoring networks. The Center has special responsibilities for such national data bases as the Bird Banding Laboratory, Breeding Bird Survey, Colonial Waterbird Survey, and the North American vertebrate collections of the National Museum of Natural History. Through wide ranging partnerships, Patuxent facilitates use of data from other long-term bird monitoring networks. It participates in national frameworks for integrative environmental monitoring, monitoring status and trends of populations, monitoring fate and effects of contaminants, monitoring biological resources on National Parks and National Wildlife Refuges, and managing of data generated from these programs


Partnerships and collaborations among scientists and between scientists and resource managers are both a tradition and a goal of Patuxent's approach to natural resource science. Center scientists are positioned to collaborate with a range of partners in both their scientific investigations and technical assistance.

At its Maryland headquarters, the Center hosts personnel from several natural resource agencies who collaborate actively with the Center's scientists. These include personnel of the FWS Office of Migratory Bird Management and Patuxent Center for Scientific Support, and the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service's Wetland Institute and Wildlife Institute. The Center is co-located with the Patuxent Research Refuge and National Wildlife Visitor Center and adjacent to the USDA Beltsville Agricultural Research Center. The Center has cooperative arrangements with each of these partners.

The Center historically has dispersed scientists to locations where collaborations are beneficial. It is the Center's intention to create a virtual research environment in which dispersed stationing of personnel is used to maximize both efficiency and collaborations. Such collaborations exist with the University of Maine, State University of New York, University of Rhode Island, University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, the National Park Service Boston Office, Cape Cod National Seashore, and the FWS Chesapeake Bay Field Office. Under the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, the Center has special partnerships with the Black Duck Joint Venture and the Lower Mississippi Joint Venture.

Special long-term partnerships have existed with several natural resource programs and agencies. Its longest-lived special partnerships are with the Center's former parent agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, particularly the Office of Migratory Bird Management, North American Waterfowl and Wetlands Management Plan Office, Division of Environmental Contaminants, Chesapeake Bay Field Office, specific National Wildlife Refuges, Southeastern Region, Northeastern Region, and Southwestern Region. Similar long-term relationships exist with the National Park Service, especially eastern National Parks and Seashores and with Area Offices, especially in New England, Mid-Atlantic, National Capital, and Southeast Areas. Special partnerships with states include the states of Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and Rhode Island. Special collaborations also exist with multi-government organizations, particularly Partners in Flight and the Chesapeake Bay Program, and with international programs including the North American Bird Banding Program (Canadian Bird Banding Office), Conservation of the Whooping Crane (CWS and Parks Canada), and Black Duck Joint Venture (Canadian Wildlife Service). The Center collaborates with a range of non- governmental organizations, particularly in the areas of waterfowl management (Wildlife Management Institute) and national bird monitoring programs (National Audubon Society, Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology and the Ornithological Council).

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