Eric Hallerman

Eric Hallerman, Professor


B.S., University of Illinois (1977) 
M.S., University of Illinois (1980) 
Ph.D., Auburn University (1984)

Lab Website



Office: 114 Cheatham Hall
Lab: 1021 ILSB
Phone: (540) 231-3257

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


Genetics of fish and wildlife species; Genetic improvement of aquaculture stocks; Aquaculture biotechnology and related public policy; Genetics education

Courses Taught:

  • FiW 4324 - Genetics of Natural and Managed Populations
  • FiW 5114 - Conservation Genetics
  • FiW 6114 - Applied Conservation Genetics >

Current Research Projects:

Population viability assessment and taxonomic assessment of endangered mussels in the Tennessee and Cumberland River watersheds, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The Southeastern United States is a biodiversity hotspot for freshwater mussels, but many species are in decline. Some species that are hard to identify morphologically may be identified using molecular genetic markers. We are developing molecular tools for distinguishing Villosa perpurpurea and Villosa trabalis, as well as applying demographic projection models to assess their viability. Ou conclusions will inform management of the species and its critical habitat.    

Development of environmental DNA protocols for detecting occurrence of imperiled daces (genus Chrosomus) in Virginia, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

Clinch and Tennessee daces are rare and difficult to collect in the field. It may be more effective to detect their DNA in water samples than to collect the fish themselves, especially in sites that are difficult or impossible to access. We are developing protocols for detecting the DNA of these daces using classical and quantitative polymerase chain reaction assays.

Administration of bluefin tuna research grants for the National Marine Fisheries Service, National Marine Fisheries Service.

Atlantic bluefin tuna populations spawn in the Gulf of Mexico and in the Mediterranean Sea, and then mix of feeding grounds of our Atlantic coast, where they are subject to a mixed-stock fishery. Managers need to know the contributions to the respective stocks in order to manage the fishery while conserving the demographically weaker stock. Within this project, genetic and contaminant (Virginia Institute of Marine Science) and otolith microchemistry (University of Maryland and Texas A&M University) markers for the respective stocks are being developed and evaluated.   

Assessment of population genetic structure and broodstock sources for the endangered purple bean (Villosa perpurpurea), Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

Before augmentation and reintroduction programs are implemented for the purple bean in the Tennessee River basin, a genetic assessment is needed, comparing source and recipient populations among rivers. Once identified, genetically similar source populations could be used to restore mainstem river and tributary populations. My group is evaluating genetic variation in two populations of purple bean, upper Clinch River (Indian Creek and Copper Creek) and Holston River (Beech Creek). The data will be used to make management decisions on augmentation and reintroduction activities for this species in the upper Tennessee River basin.

Selected Recent Publications:

  • King, T.L. King, M.S. Eackles, A.W. Aunins, H.J. Brockmann, E. Hallerman, and B.B. Brown. In press. Conservation genetics of the horseshoe crab (Limulus polyphemus): allelic diversity, zones of genetic discontinuity, and regional differentiation. Chapter in R. Carmichael, M.L. Botton, P. Shin, and S.G. Cheung, eds. Changing Global Perspectives on Biology, Conservation and Management of Horseshoe Crabs. Springer, Berlin.

  • Hallerman, E., N. Johnson, and D. Dutton. 2015. Implications of microsatellite DNA variation upon management of Virginia smallmouth bass populations. Pages 615-633 in M. Tringali, J.M. Long, T.W. Birdsong, and M.S. Allen, eds. Black Bass Diversity: Multidisciplinary Science for Conservation. American Fisheries Society, Symposium 82, Bethesda, MD.  

  • Carey, C.S., J.W. Jones, R.S. Butler, and E.M. Hallerman. 2015. Restoring the endangered Oyster Mussel (Epioblasma capsaeformis) to the upper Clinch River, Virginia: an evaluation of population restoration techniques. Restoration Ecology, in press.

  • Jones, J.W., N. Johnson, D. Schilling, R.J. Neves, E.M. Hallerman, and P. Grobler. Population genetics of the endangered rough pigtoe (Pleurobema plenum) (Bivalvia: Unionidae). Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management, in press.

  • Wultsch, C., L.P. Waits, E.M. Hallerman, and M.J. Kelly. Effects of storage methods and scat sample location on PCR amplification success, genotyping accuracy, and genotyping error rates for fecal samples of jaguars (Panthera onca) and co-occurring Neotropical felids from two tropical habitats in Belize, Central America. Journal of Wildlife Management, in press.

  • Jones, J.W., R.J. Neves, and E.M. Hallerman. 2015. Historical demography of freshwater mussels (Bivalvia: Unionidae): genetic evidence for population expansion and contraction during the late Pleistocene and Holocene. Biological Journal of the Linnaean Society 114:376–397.

  • Roberts, J., P. Angermeier, E. Hallerman. 2014 Extensive dispersal of Roanoke logperch (Percina rex) inferred from genetic marker data. Ecology of Freshwater Fish, in press. doi: 10.1111/eff.12177.

  • Hallerman, E., and A.W.S. Hilsdorf. 2014. Conservation genetics of tilapias: seeking to define appropriate units for management. The Israeli Journal of Aquaculture – Israeli Journal of Aquaculture – Bamidgeh,

  • Ansah, Y.B. E.A. Frimpong, and E.M. Hallerman. 2014. The GIFT tilapia strain in Africa: potential benefits and negative impacts. Sustainability 6:3697-3721.

  • Cnaani, A., E.M. Hallerman, and E. McLean. 2014. Physiological responses of yellow perch to hypoxia, air exposure and bleeding. North American Journal of Aquaculture 76:423-429.


Last updated April, 2015