Mitchell J Eaton, Ph.D.

Mitchell Eaton is a Research Ecologist with the U.S. Department of Interior’s Southeast Climate Science Center and an adjunct faculty member in Applied Ecology at NC State University. His research focuses on wildlife ecology & management, emphasizing quantitative modeling to understand resource dynamics and use of decision-theoretic methods to guide management decisions under uncertainty.


Mitch earned a M.S. in Conservation Biology at the University of Minnesota (2002; use of harvest data to assess sustainability of tropical vertebrates) and his Ph.D in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology from the University of Colorado (2009; population demographics, genetics and harvest management of African crocodiles).  An interest in how policy makers actually use science to make decisions led him to a postdoc at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center (USGS), where he worked with some of the top researchers in the field of decision theory to develop and apply quantitative decision-analytic tools for addressing resource management issues in the U.S. and globally.  Mitch currently integrates his background and interests in population ecology with decision science to help managers and decision makers frame management problems, formulate approaches to predict outcomes and evaluate trade-offs, test hypotheses and improve decision making via adaptive management, and optimally allocate resources under uncertainty.  Mitch is interested in bridging the science-management gap by working with decision makers early in their formulation of management issues and considering how science can most effectively support decision-making.  He also has an ongoing interest in tropical ecology, crocodilian conservation and wildlife harvest dynamics.


Current Projects:


Select Publications:

Eaton, MJ, S Yurek, Z Haider, J Martin, FA Johnson, BJ Udell, H Charkhgard, and C Kwon. 2019. Spatial conservation planning under uncertainty: adapting to climate change risks using modern portfolio theory. Ecological Applications 00(00):e01962.

Shea, CP, MJ Eaton , DI MacKenzie (2019) Implementation of an occupancy-based monitoring protocol for a widespread and cryptic species, the New England cottontail (Sylvilagus transitionalis). Wildlife Research 46, 222-235.

Xiao, X, E Seekamp, M Post van der Burg, MJ Eaton, S Fatorić, A McCreary. 2019. Optimizing historic preservation under climate change: Decision support for cultural resource adaptation planning in national parks.
Land Use Policy. 83: 379-389

Eaton, MJ, AK Fuller, FA Johnson, RC Stedman, M Hare. 2016. Application of Decision Science to Resilience Management in Jamaica Bay. In W Solecki, E Sanderson, J Waldman and A Parris (eds) Prospects for Resilience.  Island Press

Johnson, FA, MJ Eaton, J Williams, G Jensen, and J Madsen. 2015. Training Conservation Practitioners to be Better Decision Makers. Sustainability. 7:8354–8373.

Johnson, FA, MJ Eaton, G McMahon, R Nilius, M Bryant, DJ Case, J Martin, NJ Wood, and LO Taylor. 2015. Global Change and Conservation Triage on National Wildlife Refuges. Ecology & Society. 20(4): 14.

Nichols, JD, MJ Eaton and J Martin. 2014. Thresholds for conservation and management: structured decision making as a conceptual framework. In P Geissler, J Gross, G Guntenspergen, (eds) Application of Threshold Concepts in Natural Resource Decision Making. Springer-Verlag, Berlin Heildeberg.

Eaton, MJ, J Martin, JD Nichols, C McIntyre, MC McCluskie and JA Schmutz. 2014. Application of threshold concepts to ecological management problems: occupancy of golden eagles in Denali National Park, Alaska. In P Geissler, J Gross, G Guntenspergen, (eds) Application of Threshold Concepts in Natural Resource Decision Making. Springer-Verlag, Berlin Heildeberg.

Eaton, MJ, PT Hughes, JE Hines and JD Nichols. 2014. Testing metapopulation concepts: effects of patch characteristics and neighborhood occupancy on the dynamics of an endangered lagomorph. Oikos. 123(6): 662-676.

Breininger, D, B Duncan, MJ Eaton, F Johnson, and JD Nichols. 2014. Integrating land cover modeling and adaptive management to conserve endangered species and reduce catastrophic fire risk. Land. 3:874–897.

Eaton, MJ. 2012. Monitoring trends in hunting returns and harvest sustainability: catch per unit effort (CPUE). In Clark, C.J. and J.R. Poulsen (eds). Tropical Forest Conservation and Industry Partnership: an Experience from the Congo Basin. Blackwell Publishing, Oxford, UK.

Laurance, WF, et al. 2012. Averting biodiversity collapse in tropical protected areas. Nature. 489: 290-294.

Link, WA and MJ Eaton. 2012. On thinning of chains in MCMC. Methods in Ecology and Evolution. 3(1): 112-115.

Eaton, MJ, PT Hughes, JD Nichols, A Morkill and C Anderson. 2011. Spatial occupancy patterns of the Lower Keys marsh rabbit (Sylvilagus palustris hefneri). Journal of Wildlife Management. 75(5): 1186-1193.

Eaton, MJ and WA Link. 2011. Estimating age from recapture data: integrating incremental growth measures with ancillary data to infer age-at-length. Ecological Applications.   21(7): 2487-2497.

Martin, J, JD Nichols, BC Lubow, MJ Eaton, MC Runge, BM Stith, and CA Langtimm. 2011. Structured decision making as a proactive approach to dealing with sea level rise in Florida. Climatic Change. 107(1-2): 185-202.

Williams, BK, MJ Eaton, D Breininger. 2011. Adaptive resource management and the value of information. Ecological Modelling. 222(18): 3429– 3436.

Eaton, MJ, G Myers, SO Kolokotronis, M Leslie and G Amato. 2010. Barcoding bushmeat: molecular identification of Central African and South American harvested vertebrates. Conservation Genetics. 11(4): 1389-1404.

Eaton, MJ, A Martin, JB Thorbjarnarson and G Amato. 2009. Species-level diversification of African dwarf crocodiles (Genus Osteolaemus): a geographic and molecular phylogenetic perspective. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 50(3): 496-506.