Nathaniel Hitt, PhD


Dr. Nathaniel (Than) P. Hitt is a Research Fish Biologist at the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) Leetown Science Center in Kearneysville, West Virginia.  He holds a B.A. in Biology from the College of Wooster, an M.S. in Organismal Biology and Ecology from the University of Montana, and a Ph.D. in Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences from Virginia Tech.  Dr. Hitt’s research investigates freshwater fish ecology and community ecotoxicology from a landscape perspective, focusing on stream ecosystems in the Appalachian highlands.  His research includes:

  • Modeling fish habitat and population/community responses to environmental change
  • Forecasting effects of climate change for fish habitat in headwater streams
  • Effects of stream flow and temperature on fish communities population dynamics


  • 2007Ph.D., Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences                                                                            
  • 2002M.S., University of Montana, Missoula, MT, Division of Biological Sciences, Organismal Biology and Ecology 
  • 1996B.A., The College of Wooster, Wooster, OH  Biology, Honors 

Professional Experience 

  • 2009-presentResearch Fish Biologist, US Geological Survey, Leetown Science Center 
  • 2018-presentAdjunct Associate Professor, Natural Resource Ecology & Management, Oklahoma State University 
  • 2015-presentAdjunct Associate Professor, Department of Ecosystem Science and Management, Pennsylvania State University 
  • 2008-2009Postdoctoral Researcher, US Geological Survey, Leetown Science Center 
  • 2007-2008Postdoctoral Researcher, Virginia Tech, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences 
  • 2002-2007Graduate Research Assistant, Virginia Tech, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences 
  • 1999-2002Graduate Research Assistant, University of Montana, Division of Biological Sciences 

Links to media coverage in The Washington PostThe Washington PostMcClatchy News, Herald-MailDiscovery, Shepherdstown Chronicle, and National Geographic News Watch

Link to Google Scholar profile

Watch a presentation on "brook trout and climate change from genes to landscapes" (AFS New York Chapter plenary 2020)

Link to Project eTrout: crowdsourcing trout ecology data with virtual reality. See a demo 360-video here.

Visit a webmap of future brook trout habitat in Catoctin Mountain Park, and see the underlying methods (2018).

Watch a National Park Service webinar "forecasting fish habitat responses to climate change: importance of groundwater-surface water interactions" (2018) 

Visit a webmap of stream-groundwater modeling results in Shenandoah National Park (2017).

Read an article announcing the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (2017).

Watch a timelapse video of stream flow in Catoctin Mountain Park over a year (2016).

Watch a video of brook trout feeding in the LSC Experimental Stream Laboratory.

Watch a video introducing the LSC Experimental Stream Laboratory.

Watch a presentation on  the importance of stream network topology for brook trout recruitment in 2016. 

Watch a presentation entitled "spatial structure of stream thermal sensitivity affects climate change forecasts for brook trout" given at James Madison University in 2013.

Hear a radio segment on my work investigating brook trout responses to climate change.

Download a final report to USFWS on Kentucky arrow darter and blackside dace relations to stream conductivity.

Download a pdf of slides presented to USFWS, OSM, and TDEC regarding conductivity thresholds for abundance of imperiled stream fishes (June 9, 2015).

Watch a video citing our research on American eel responses to dam removal.

New York Times quote of the day (June 21, 2015).

Download CV