Arthur Middleton during field work on Trident Plateau at the southeast corner of Yellowstone National Park.

Research Expertise and Interest

wildlife, biodiversity, ecology, conservation

Research Description

Arthur Middleton is associate professor of wildlife policy and management in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management at UC Berkeley. Professor Middleton studies the effects of environmental change on the behavioral, population, and community ecology of wide-ranging wildlife, with emphasis on habitat conservation and human-wildlife conflict reduction. He has led a variety of research initiatives that connect wildlife movements to large-landscape conservation, and has often collaborated with photographers, artists, filmmakers, and media organizations to communicate about science and conservation to the public. He has contributed to The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, co-produced a film distributed by National Geographic, and co-created a museum exhibit about the animal migrations in and out of Yellowstone. Professor Middleton currently advises the Biden Administration on its conservation efforts, through an appointment as Senior Advisor for Wildlife Conservation at USDA.

In the News

New study reveals how fences hinder migratory wildlife in the West

Each year, thousands of migratory mule deer and pronghorn antelope journey northwest from their winter homes to their summer homes in the mountainous landscape near Grand Teton National Park. But to reach their destination, these ungulates must successfully navigate the more than 6,000 kilometers (3,728 miles) of fencing that crisscrosses the region. That’s enough distance to span nearly twice the length of the U.S.-Mexico border.

What drives Yellowstone’s massive elk migrations?

Every spring, tens of thousands of elk follow a wave of green growth up onto the high plateaus in and around Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks, where they spend the summer calving and fattening on fresh grass. And every fall, the massive herds migrate back down into the surrounding valleys and plains, where lower elevations provide respite from harsh winters. These migratory elk rely primarily on environmental cues, including a retreating snowline and the greening grasses of spring, to decide when to make these yearly journeys, shows a new study led by University of California, Berkeley, researchers.

Featured in the Media

Please note: The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or positions of UC Berkeley.
January 13, 2021
Maddie Capron
Enough fencing to span the U.S.-Mexico border twice is impacting wildlife migration in the West, a new study reported. Thousands of mule deer and pronghorn antelope make their way west in Wyoming to spend the summer near Grand Teton National Park. Along the way, they run into more than 3,728 miles of fences. "We need fences — they help keep livestock safe, can help keep livestock and wildlife separate, and mark property boundaries," Arthur Middleton, an assistant professor of wildlife management and policy at UC Berkeley, said. "So, the question becomes, how do you identify which fences are really important, and which are problematic from a wildlife standpoint, and then seek some way to mitigate the impacts?" For more on this, see our press release at Berkeley News.
June 28, 2019
Roughly 20,000 migrating elk appear ready to adapt to climate change, finds a new survey led by Berkeley researchers. Tracking more than 400 GPS-collared elk in nine herds between 2001 and 2017, the researchers aimed to "create a comprehensive model of what drives these animals to move." Assistant environmental science, policy, and management professor Arthur Middleton, the study's senior author, says: "In some ways it kind of confirms some things we would have expected based on anecdotal comments. ... This is just a much bigger, comprehensive look at the drivers, looking at the variation across the system." Co-author Gregory Rickbeil, a postdoctoral researcher in Professor Middleton's lab, says: "We found that the immediate environment is a very effective predictor of when migration occurs. ... It seems like these animals can adapt to changing climates, which is likely a good thing. ... But there will be a lot of consequences to these changes." For more on this, see our press release at Berkeley News. Other stories on this topic appeared in the Salt Lake Tribune, The Hill, and goHunt.
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