Professor of Wildlife Ecology
Unit Leader, US Geological Survey
Wisconsin Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit

204 Russell Labs
1630 Linden Drive
Madison, WI 53706-1598

Phone: 608/263-6556




Unit Leader, USGS BRD


Degree Institution Major Field Granted
B.S. Colorado State University Wildlife Biology
with high distinction
M.S. University of Minnesota Statistics
paper: Spatial Statistics in Ecology
M.S. University of Minnesota Ecology
Thesis: Autumn movements and activity patterns of sea otters (Enhydra lutris) in California
Ph.D. University of Minnesota Ecology
Dissertation: Growth of a northern elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris) colony.


As Unit Leader, I am responsible for working with the state, University, and federal government in developing research programs in the general area of wildlife ecology. As part of my responsibilities, I train graduate students and teach elective graduate level courses on a wide variety of topics (e.g., metapopulations, wildlife and agroecosystems, null models in community ecology).

Previous Employment

Research Ecologist, U.S. EPA Environmental Research Laboratory, Corvallis, OR (Oct. 1990-August 1994)

Research Assistant Professor, Center for Quantitative Science in Forestry, Fisheries and Wildlife, School of Fisheries, University of Washington, Seattle, WA (April 1985-September 1990)

Professional Affiliations

Ecological Society of America, U.S. Chapter International Association of Landscape Ecology, The Wildlife Society, The Biometric Society, American Statistical Association, Phi Kappa Phi

Current Research

My research projects are organized into these broad programs of investigation: conservation of grassland vertebrates in working agricultural landscapes; alternative energy production; and global climate change.

Conservation of grassland vertebrates in working agricultural landscapes

This long-term program attempts to understand how to manage for grassland vertebrates in landscapes dominated by active agriculture. I created this program to understand how grassland birds respond to existing best-management practices and have expanded it to encompass a systems view, studying aspects of predation and landscape ecology. The organisms studied include meso-predators, small mammals, grassland birds, and snakes. My team also addresses ecological theories including area sensitivity, edge effects, and landscape influences.

Alternative Energy Production

Biomass production for alternative energy production systems has the potential to impact land use at a large scale across the nation. The increasing demand to use forests and grassland systems for bioenergy purposes will compete with other ecological services these systems provide. It is increasingly clear that more information is necessary in order to evaluate the trade-offs between alternative energy production and other ecological services. I have a grassland project and a forest ecosystem project that are investigating different aspects of biomass production.

Global Climate Change

The Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts (WICCI) is a multi-organizational, multi-disciplinary group of scientists and managers who have organized to explore ways to identify and measure the impacts of climate change and variability at local and regional scales as well as consider adaptation strategies for Wisconsin ecosystem and natural resource management, agriculture, business, human health and other aspects impacting the state’s quality of life. The goal of the WICCI Wildlife Working Group is to collaboratively synthesize existing climate research as it pertains to Wisconsin, set priorities for research, and generate management strategies to address future climate change impacts using applied research, modeling, and adaptive management. My team is working to produce a risk assessment by synthesizing information on the direct and indirect impacts of climate change on Wisconsin’s wildlife resources that are likely to occur over the next 50-100 years. We are also developing a model-based approach to integrating climate variables with high-quality, long-term data to predict population-level responses of focal species to future climate conditions and landscape change in Wisconsin, with implications for the Midwestern region.

Recent Publications

Ribic, C.A., S.B. Sheavly, and D.J. Rugg.  2011. Trends in marine debris in the U.S. Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico 1996-2003.  Journal of Integrated Coastal Zone  Management 11(1): 7-19.

Vos, S.M. and C.A. Ribic. 2011. Grassland bird use of oak barrens and dry prairies in Wisconsin. Natural Areas Journal 31: 26-33.

Donner, D.M., C.A. Ribic, and J.R. Probst. 2010. Patch dynamics and the timing of colonization-abandonment events by male Kirtland’s Warblers in an early succession habitat. Biological Conservation 143: 1159-1167.

Ribic, C.A., S.B. Sheavly, D.J. Rugg, and E.S. Erdmann.  2010. Trends and drivers of marine debris on the Atlantic coast of the United States 1997-2007. Marine Pollution Bulletin 60: 1231-1242.

Murray, L.D., C. A. Ribic, and K. Ellison. 2009.  Red-headed woodpecker habitat associations in southwest Wisconsin. Passenger Pigeon 71: 367-373.

Donner, D.M., C.A. Ribic, and J.R. Probst.  2009. Male Kirtland’s warblers' patch-level response to landscape structure during periods of varying population size and habitat amounts.  Forest Ecology and Management 258: 1093-1101.

Johnson, D.H., J.P. Gibbs, M. Herzog, S, Lor, N.D. Niemuth, C.A. Ribic, M. Seamans, T.L. Shaffer, W.G. Shriver, S.V. Stehman, and W.L. Thompson.  2009.  A sampling design framework for monitoring secretive marshbirds. Waterbirds 32: 203-362.

Ribic, C. A., R. R. Koford, J. R. Herkert, D. H. Johnson, N. D. Niemuth,  D. Naugle, K. K. Bakker, D.W. Sample, and R.B. Renfrew.  2009.  Area sensitivity in North American grassland birds:  patterns and processes. The Auk 126: 233-244.

Joly, D.O., D.M. Heisey, M.D. Samuel, C.A. Ribic, N. Thomas, S.D. Wright, and I.E. Wright.  2009.  Estimating cause-specific mortality rates using data derived from recovered carcasses.  Journal of Wildlife Diseases 45: 122-127.

Ribic, C.A., M.J. Guzy, and D.W. Sample. 2009. Grassland bird use of remnant prairie and Conservation Reserve Program fields in an agricultural landscape in Wisconsin. American Midland Naturalist 161: 110-122.

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