Mark Ford

Mark Ford, Associate Professor

Unit Leader, Cooperative Research Unit


B.S., University of Tennessee (1987)
M.S., Mississippi State University (1989)
Ph.D., University of Georgia (1994)

Virginia Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit

Office: 106B Cheatham Hall
Phone: (540) 231-5927

Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation
310 West Campus Drive
Virginia Tech,Cheatham Hall, Room 106 (MC 0321)
Blacksburg, VA 24061


Ford studies land management (forestry, fire, and mining) and landscape interactions with wildlife habitat and species occurrence in the Southeast and mid-Atlantic.  Currently, his work focuses on ecology and management of bats, Appalachian northern flying squirrels and spotted skunks. Ford is also interested in oak regeneration issues and high elevation red spruce restoration in the Appalachians.

Courses Taught:

  • Wildlife Habitat Management in the Appalachians and Piedmont (F&W 6004)

Current Research Projects:

Response of Bats to Restoration Fires in the Central Appalachians

Funded by the Joint Fire Sciences Program, the U.S. Forest Service Region 8 and the National Park Service, this project is seeking to examine how restoration fire alters foraging and day-roosting patterns of bats with particular emphasis on the threatened northern long-eared bat on Warm Springs Mountain and Shenandoah National Park.  Cooperators are the Nature Conservancy, the George Washington National Forest and Shenandoah National Park.

Bat Ecology and Distribution on Military Lands

Funded by various installations, this project is seeking to better understand how bats respond to the highly managed stand- and landscape conditions on lands devoted to military mission needs and environmental stewardships.  Cooperators are Fort Drum, Fort A.P. Hill, Fort Pickett and Quantico Marine Corps Base.

Modeling Distribution of Bats in the Mid-Atlantic

Funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Virginia Field Office and the National Park Service, this project is seeking to develop acoustically-derived predictive landscape distribution models for all of the bat species that occur in Virginia and portions of Maryland and West Virginia following the occurrence of white-nose syndrome.  Special emphasis on researching the day-roosting habits of the threatened northern long-eared bat, endangered Indiana bat and sensitive small-footed bat also is occurring. Other cooperators include Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

Northern Long-eared Bat Status in the Northeast

Funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 5, this project is seeking to determine through mist-netting and acoustics if residual maternity activity still occurs for the threatened northern long-eared bat in New Jersey, Massachusetts and New Hampshire and if the social day-roost network among extant bats is still present.  Other cooperators include Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.

Habitat Use and Acoustical Monitoring of Appalachian Northern Flying Squirrels

Funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, North Carolina Field Office, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission and the West Virginia Division of Highways, this project is seeking to use a combination of live-trapping, radio-telemetry and acoustic surveys to better define northern flying squirrel habitat in high elevation red spruce forests in the central and southern Appalachians that can guide forest restoration efforts.  Other cooperators include the Jefferson National Forest, the Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, West Virginia Division of Forestry and Snowshoe Resort.

Ecology and Distribution of the Spotted Skunk in Virginia

Funded by Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, this project is seeking to map the distribution of the spotted skunk, a state-sensitive species using baited camera traps.   Habitat use from radio-telemetry is also being conducted.  Other cooperators include the Jefferson National Forest and Fort Pickett.

Environmental and Physical Influences on White-tailed Deer Herbivory

Funded by Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, this project is seeking to understand how deer herbivory varies in extent and impact to native flora in western Virginia relative to forest community type, landscape configuration, soil quality, landform, elevation and deer herd density. 

Assessing Climate Change on Military Land Ecosystems

Funded by the Army Environmental Quality on Installations program, this project is seeking to model the change in Holdrich ecological associations under varying climate change scenarios for all Department of Defense lands in the continental United States.  Site-specific landscape changes are being assessed at Fort Drum in northern New York to understand data needs for military planners interested in understanding climate change impacts to environments at tcale. he more local landscapes

Arrested Succession on Appalachian Mine Lands

Funded by the Appalachian Research Initiative for Environmental Science, this project is seeking to understand the longevity of early successional grassland and shrub-scrub habitats post-mining in the central Appalachian coalfields to better assess future habitat condition and needs for species such as elk or grassland birds.  Cooperators include the Virginia Tech Conservation Management Institute.

Select Recent Publications:

  • Rentch, J.S., W.M. Ford, T.S. Schuler, J. Palmer and C.A. Diggins. 2015.  Release of suppressed red spruce using canopy gap creation – ecological restoration in the Central Appalachians.  Natural Areas Journal (in press).
  • Ford, W.M., A. M. Evans, R. H. Odom, J. L. Rodrigue, C. A. Kelly, N. Abaid, C. A. Diggins and D. Newcomb. 2015. Predictive habitat models derived from nest-box occupancy for the endangered Carolina northern flying squirrel in the southern Appalachians. Endangered Species Research 27:131-140.
  • Silvis, A., W.M. Ford, and E.R. Britzke. 2015. Effects of hierarchical roost removal on northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis) maternity colonies.  PLoS ONE DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0116356. 17 p.
  • Coleman, L.S., W.M. Ford, C.A. Dobony, and E.R. Britzke. 2014. Comparison of radio-telemetric home range analysis and acoustic detection for little brown bat habitat evaluation in northwestern New York, USA.  Northeast Naturalist 21:431-435.
  • Jachowski, D.S., C.A. Dobony, L.S. Coleman, W.M. Ford, E.R. Britzke, and J.L. Rodrigue. 2014. Disease and community assemblage: white-nose syndrome alters spatial and temporal niche partitioning in sympatric bat species.  Diversity and Distributions 20:1002-1015.
  • Silvis, A., W.M. Ford, E.R. Britzke, and J.B. Johnson. 2014. Association, roost and social networks of Myotis septentrionalis maternity colonies. Behavioral Processes 103:283-290
  • Coleman, L.S., W.M. Ford, C.A. Dobony and E.R. Britzke. 2014. Effect of passive acoustic sampling methodology on detecting bats after declines from white nose syndrome.  Journal of Ecology and the Natural Environment 6:56-64.
  • Ford, W.M., C. A. Kelly, J.L. Rodrigue, R.H. Odom,  D. Newcomb, L. M. Gilley and C. A. Diggins. 2014. Late winter and early spring home range and habitat use of the endangered Carolina northern flying squirrel in western North Carolina.  Endangered Species Research 2:73-82.
  • Silvis, A., W.M. Ford, E.R. Britzke, N.R. Beane and J.B. Johnson. 2012.  Forest succession and maternity roost selection by Myotis septentrionalis in a mesophytic hardwood forest.  International Journal of Forestry doi:10.1155/2012/148106. 8 p.
  • Francl, K.E., W.M. Ford, D.W. Sparks and V. Brack. 2012.  Capture and reproductive trends of summer bat communities in West Virginia: assessing the impacts of white-nose syndrome.  Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management 3:33:42


Last updated April, 2015