Brian is a Research Wildlife Biologist located at the Eastern Ecological Science Center (formerly Patuxent Wildlife Research Center) in Cortland, New York.
Brian collaborates with DOI partners, USGS and academic colleagues on mission-critical problems or emerging issues. I conduct research primarily through graduate student mentoring and advising. Secondarily, he provide technical assistance to partners that often lead to interesting research questions and products.
1996 - present USGS Eastern Ecological Science Center, Cortland, NY
1993 - 1996 National Biological Survey, Syracuse, NY
1990 - 1993 National Park Service, Boston, MA
Education and Certifications
PhD (1990); Wildlife Ecology, State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse.
MS (1986); Wildlife Ecology, State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse
BS (1982); Wildlife Resources Management, West Virginia University, Morgantown.
Affiliations and Memberships*
The Wildlife Society (TWS)
Honors and Awards
Patuxent Scientific Achievement Award, 3/00
Service Appreciation, Bureau of Land Management, 5/99
Regional Director’s Award (Northeast Region) for Natural Resource Research, National Park Service, 5/98
Merit Award for Scientific Contributions, Fire Island National Seashore, 2/98
Science and Products
Evaluating legacy effects of hyperabundant white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in forested stands of Harriman and Bear Mountain State Parks, New York
A rapid assessment method for ground layer coastal vegetation
Latitudinal variation in snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus) body mass: A test of Bergmann’s Rule
Effects of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) exclusion on plant recovery in overwash fans after a severe coastal storm
Deer do not affect short-term rates of vegetation recovery in overwash fans on Fire Island after Hurricane Sandy
White-tailed deer movements and space use on Fire Island: A four-year radio-telemetry study 2015-2016 post-Hurricane Sandy assessment
Quantifying effects of deer browsing on vegetation establishment, growth and development in large-extent overwash fans
Hierarchical patch delineation in fragmented landscapes
Movement behavior preceding autumn mortality for white-tailed deer in central New York
Modeling the effects of land cover and use on landscape capability for urban ungulate populations
Fine scale habitat use by age-1 stocked muskellunge and wild northern pike in an upper St. Lawrence River bay
Pairing call-response surveys and distance sampling for a mammalian carnivore
Conservation of Rare Vegetation Communities of the Atlantic Coastal Barrier Islands
Post-Hurricane Sandy Vegetation Recovery in the Presence of a Hyper-abundant Deer Population
Estimation of Density and Abundance of Biological Populations on National Parks and Wildlife Refuges Through Distance Sampling
Science and Products
Filter Total Items: 34
Evaluating legacy effects of hyperabundant white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in forested stands of Harriman and Bear Mountain State Parks, New YorkExecutive SummaryWhite-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) are among the most impactful herbivores in the eastern United States. Legacy forest effects, those accrued from intense herbivory over time, manifest as low seedling regeneration, high cover of plant species that are infrequently browsed by deer, presence or expansion of nonnative or invasive plant species, few herbaceous species, and dimAuthorsChellby R. Kilheffer, H. Brian Underwood, Donald J. Leopold, Rachel Guerrieri
A rapid assessment method for ground layer coastal vegetationWe aim to test a rapid ecological assessment method to monitor regenerating coastal vegetation without sacrificing accuracy. We estimated species frequency in vegetation plots using traditional point intercept methods. We also tested a rapid, digital method to take high-resolution digital photographs of plots. We navigated among plot locations using a sub-meter Differential Global Positioning SystAuthorsChellby R. Kilheffer, Jordan Raphael, Lindsay Ries, H. Brian Underwood
Latitudinal variation in snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus) body mass: A test of Bergmann’s RuleThe relationship between body size and latitude have been the focus of dozens of studies across many species. However, results of testing Bergmann’s Rule – that organisms in colder climates or at higher latitudes possess larger body sizes – have been inconsistent across studies. We investigated whether snowshoe hares (Lepus americanus) follow the Rule by investigating differences in body mass usinAuthorsLaura C. Gigliotti, Nathan D. Berg, Rudy Boonstra, Shawn M. Cleveland, Duane R. Diefenbach, Eric M. Gese, Jacob S. Ivan, Knut Kielland, Charles J. Krebs, Alexander V. Kumar, L. Scott Mills, Jonathan N. Pauli, H. Brian Underwood, Evan Wilson, M.J. Sheriff
Effects of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) exclusion on plant recovery in overwash fans after a severe coastal stormWe documented the impacts of a hyper-abundant deer population on dune vegetation recovering from severe storm surge on a barrier island through use of permanent plots and a repeated measures analysis. Three years after landfall of the storm, vegetation cover was dominated by American beachgrass, Ammophila breviligulata, though we observed twelve plant species among plots surveyed. We documented siAuthorsChellby R. Kilheffer, Jordan Raphael, Lindsay Ries, H. Brian Underwood
Deer do not affect short-term rates of vegetation recovery in overwash fans on Fire Island after Hurricane Sandy1. Coastal resilience is threatened as storm-induced disturbances become more frequent and intense with anticipated changes in weather patterns. After severe storms, rapid recovery of vegetation, especially that of dune-stabilizing plants, is a fundamental property of coastal resilience. Herbivores may affect resilience by selectively foraging palatable plant species in disturbed areas. KnowledgeAuthorsChellby R. Kilheffer, H. Brian Underwood, Jordan Raphael, Lindsay Ries, Shannon Farrell, Donald J. Leopold
White-tailed deer movements and space use on Fire Island: A four-year radio-telemetry study 2015-2016 post-Hurricane Sandy assessmentHurricane Sandy provided a unique opportunity to better understand the movements of Fire Island’s dense white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus borealis) herds. White-tailed deer inhabit all areas of Fire Island National Seashore and their high densities negatively affect native vegetation in several areas of the island, especially as disturbed areas attempt to recover after a catastrophic stormAuthorsChellby R. Kilheffer, Jordan Raphael, Lindsay Ries, H. Brian Underwood
Quantifying effects of deer browsing on vegetation establishment, growth and development in large-extent overwash fansHurricane Sandy provided a unique opportunity to better understand the potential effects of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus borealis) on recovering vegetation in areas overwashed by Hurricane Sandy in the Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness Area. White-tailed deer are the dominant herbivore on Fire Island and they are known to decrease plant diversity, limit reproduction and growtAuthorsChellby R. Kilheffer, Lindsay Reis, Jordan Raphael, H. Brian Underwood
Hierarchical patch delineation in fragmented landscapesPurposeWe developed a tool, FragPatch (FP), to delineate habitat patches for highly fragmented landscapes from a user-defined suitability map and two landscape perception values for a species of interest.MethodsWe wrote a Python script in ArcGIS to delineate habitat patch networks using the user inputs and ArcGIS tools such as Euclidean distance, focal maximum, and reclassify. We validated the tooAuthorsChellby R. Kilheffer, H. Brian Underwood
Movement behavior preceding autumn mortality for white-tailed deer in central New YorkA common yet largely untested assumption in the theory of animal movements is that increased rates and a wider range of movements, such as occurs during breeding, make animals more vulnerable to mortality. We examined mortality among 34 white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) wearing GPS collars during the autumn breeding season of 2006 and 2007 in a heavily hunted, forest-agricultural landscapAuthorsBrigham J. Whitman, W. F. Porter, Amy C. Dechen Quinn, David M. Williams, Jacqueline L. Frair, H. Brian Underwood, Joanne C. Crawford
Modeling the effects of land cover and use on landscape capability for urban ungulate populationsExpanding ungulate populations are causing concerns for wildlife professionals and residents in many urban areas worldwide. Nowhere is the phenomenon more apparent than in the eastern US, where urban white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) populations are increasing. Most habitat suitability models for deer have been developed in rural areas and across large (>1000 km2) spatial extents. OnlyAuthorsH. Brian Underwood, Chellby R. Kilheffer
Fine scale habitat use by age-1 stocked muskellunge and wild northern pike in an upper St. Lawrence River bayRadio telemetry of stocked muskellunge (n = 6) and wild northern pike (n = 6) was used to track late summer and fall movements from a common release point in a known shared nursery bay to test the hypothesis that age-1 northern pike and stocked muskellunge segregate and have different habitat affinities. Water depth, temperature, substrate and aquatic vegetation variables were estimated for each mAuthorsJohn M. Farrell, Kevin L. Kapuscinski, H. Brian Underwood
Pairing call-response surveys and distance sampling for a mammalian carnivoreDensity estimates accounting for differential animal detectability are difficult to acquire for wide-ranging and elusive species such as mammalian carnivores. Pairing distance sampling with call-response surveys may provide an efficient means of tracking changes in populations of coyotes (Canis latrans), a species of particular interest in the eastern United States. Blind field trials in rural NewAuthorsSara J. K. Hansen, Jacqueline L. Frair, Harold B. Underwood, James P. Gibbs
Conservation of Rare Vegetation Communities of the Atlantic Coastal Barrier IslandsThe Challenge: A synthesis of the role of disturbance, in all of its manifestations, on the establishment and development of the American Holly forest is required to guide future conservation measures. Because many forest fragments have already endured >30 years of chronic deer herbivory, a legitimate question of how much more impact by deer can be tolerated and still conserve the essential type...
Post-Hurricane Sandy Vegetation Recovery in the Presence of a Hyper-abundant Deer PopulationThe Challenge: The primary dune along barrier island beaches protects leeward vegetation from tidal fluctuation, salt spray and storm surge. However, storm surges like those experienced during Hurricane Sandy can obliterate the primary dune, transporting sand inland and burying existing vegetation. The dune rebuilds naturally as recovering vegetation traps wind-blown and waterborne sand. The rate...
Estimation of Density and Abundance of Biological Populations on National Parks and Wildlife Refuges Through Distance SamplingThe Challenge: Assessing the status and trends of populations of biological organisms is an important management goal and a recurrent theme in USGS research. Often, the most basic question of “how many are there?” remains elusive, thus making management decisions more difficult. This study continues a long-term commitment of technical support for the use of distance sampling for wildlife...
*Disclaimer: Listing outside positions with professional scientific organizations on this Staff Profile are for informational purposes only and do not constitute an endorsement of those professional scientific organizations or their activities by the USGS, Department of the Interior, or U.S. Government