Alumni Profile: Daniel J. Hocking
Degree: Natural Resources and Environmental Studies
Dissertation Title: The Role of Red-backed Salamanders in Ecosystems
Advisor: Dr. Kim Babbitt
Description of Research
My broad research interests are in the ecology and conservation of amphibians and reptiles. My current research focus is on the role of terrestrial, woodland salamanders in ecosystem functions. Terrestrial salamanders of the genus Plethodon can be incredibly abundant in forest ecosystems. In many eastern US forests they are the most abundant vertebrate and can makeup twice the biomass of all the breeding forest birds. As abundant predators of forest floor invertebrates salamanders have the potential to affect ecosystem processes through alteration of the detrital food web and through direct nutrient cycling. I am specifically testing how the removal of salamanders from forest plots affects nitrogen mineralization rates, leaf litter decomposition rates, and oak seedling growth and survival. Additionally, I am examining how salamanders affect other top detrial predators including spiders, centipedes, and carabid beetles. These intraguild predators are likely competing for resources and their roles in the food web and ecosystem may be altered in the absence of salamanders.
Previous Awards and Activities
- College of Life Sciences & Agriculture Summer Fellowship. UNH. 2008. $5,000
- Summer TA Fellowship. University of New Hampshire. 2008. $3,000
- Natural Resources Travel Funds. University of New Hampshire. 2008. $475
- TWA Scholarship. University of Missouri, 2006. $7,000
- Biology Graduate Student Association Travel Funds. University of Missouri 2005. $260
- Life Science Fellowship. University of Missouri. 2004-2007
- NCAA Cross Country Academic All-American. 2003
- America East Conference Scholar Athlete of the Year. 2002, 2003
- Meritorious Achievement Award for Undergraduate Research. American Society of Limnology and Oceanography’s annual Aquatic Sciences Meeting 2003
- Zocchi Scholarship. UNH Chemical Engineering Department
- Woodward Scholarship. UNH Chemical Engineering Department
- Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry Scholarship. UNH Chemical Engineering Department
Selected Presentations and Publications
Semlitsch, R.D., S.M Blomquist, A.J.K. Calhoun, J.W. Gibbons, J.P. Gibbs, G.J. Graeter, E.B. Harper, D.J. Hocking, M.L. Hunter, D.A. Patrick, T.A.G. Rittenhouse, B.B. Rothermel, and B.D. Todd. 2009. Effects of timber management on amphibian populations: understanding mechanisms from forest experiments. Bioscience. (Cover Photograph)
- Babbitt K. J., M. J. Baber, D. L. Childers, D. J. Hocking. 2009. The influence of agricultural upland habitat type on larval anuran assemblages in seasonally-inundated wetlands. Wetlands 29(1): 294-301.
- Hocking, D. J. and R. D. Semlitsch. 2008. Effects of clearcut logging on gray treefrog (Hyla versicolor) tadpole performance. Journal of Herpetology 42: 689-698.
- Hocking, D. J., T. A. G. Rittenhouse, B. B. Rothermel, J. R. Johnson, C. A. Conner, E. B. Harper, and R. D. Semlitsch. 2008. Breeding and recruitment phenology of amphibians in Missouri oak-hickory forests. American Midland Naturalist 160: 41-60.
- Semlitsch, R. D., C. A. Conner, D. J. Hocking, T. A. G. Rittenhouse, and E. B. Harper. 2008. Effects of timber harvesting on pond-breeding amphibian persistence: testing the evacuation hypothesis. Ecological Applications 18(2): 283-289
- Hocking, D.J. and R. D. Semlitsch. 2007. Effects of timber harvest on breeding site selection by gray treefrogs (Hyla versicolor). Biological Conservation 138: 506-513.
- In Press
Scheffers, B., E. D. McDonald, D. J. Hocking, C. A. Conner, and R. D. Semlitsch. A comparison of two artificial cover objects for sampling amphibians and reptiles. Herpetological Review.
- Hocking, D. J. Hyla squirella (squirrel treefrog) reproduction. Herpetological Review.
- Ph.D., Natural Resources and Earth Systems Science, University of New Hampshire. May 2012
Dissertation Topic: The Role of Red-backed Salamanders in Ecosystems
Advisor: Dr. Kimberly Babbitt
- M.A., Biological Sciences, U. of Missouri, Columbia, MO. May 2007
Thesis: Gray treefrog breeding site selection and offspring performance in response to forest management.
Advisor: Dr. Raymond Semlitsch
- B.S., Environmental Conservation, U. of New Hampshire, Durham. May 2003
Minor: Chemical Engineering
Magna Cum Laude