Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: West Virginia
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

West Virginia Project

Longterm Louisiana Waterthrush and Avian Community Response to Shale Gas Development in the Central Appalachian Region

March 2008 - December 2018


Participating Agencies

  • Appalachian Stewardship Foundation
  • West Virginia University
  • US Dept of Energy
  • National Aviary

Shale gas development in the central Appalachian region has increased exponentially in recent years leading to concerns related to fragmentation of the regions forests and to affects on water resources particularly forested headwater streams. This 6-year study evaluated multiple measures of avian population response to a changing landscape from shale gas development activities. Measures included avian community changes, Louisiana waterthrush demographic response, and benthic community changes. Results suggest that headwater systems are affected and that affects scale-up through the food chain ultimately affecting waterthrush demography. Findings help to better define ecosystem level responses across the terrestrial-aquatic interface.

Research Publications Publication Date
Wood, P.B., M.W. Frantz, and D.A. Becker. 2016. Louisiana Waterthrush and Benthic Macroinvertebrate Response to Shale Gas Development. Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management 7(2). Online at August 2016
Frantz, M.W., P.B. Wood, and G.T. Merovich, Jr. Demographic characteristics of an avian predator in response to its aquatic prey in watersheds impacted by shale gas development. PLoSONE November 2018
Frantz, M.W., P.B. Wood, S. Latta, and A. Welsh. 2020. Epigenetic response of Louisiana Waterthrush (Parkesia motacilla) to shale gas development. Ibis. March 2020
Frantz, M.W., P.B. Wood, J. Sheehan, and G. George. 2019. Louisiana Waterthrush Survival and Site Fidelity in an Area Undergoing Shale Gas Development. Wilson Journal of Ornithology 131(1):84-95. April 2019
Frantz, M.W., P.B. Wood, J. Sheehan, and G. George. 2018. Demographic response of Louisiana Waterthrush, a stream obligate songbird of conservation concern, to shale gas development. Condor 120:265-282. DOI: 10.1650/CONDOR-17-130.1 February 2018
Farwell, L.S., P.B. Wood, R. Dettmers, and M. Brittingham. 2020. Threshold responses of songbirds to forest loss and fragmentation across the Marcellus-Utica shale gas region of central Appalachia, USA. Landscape Ecology 35:1353–1370. April 2020
Farwell, L.S., P.B. Wood, J. Sheehan, and G.A. George. 2016. Shale gas development effects on the songbird community in a central Appalachian forest. Biological Conservation 201:78-91. July 2016
Theses and Dissertations Publication Date
Frantz, M.W. 2019. Demographic, Spatial, and Epigenetic Response of the Louisiana Waterthrush (Parkesia motacilla) to shale gas development. PhD Dissertation, West Virginia University, Morgantown. May 2019. May 2019
Farwell, L.S. August 2018. Songbird response to forest disturbance due to unconventional shale gas development in the Marcellus-Utica region: a multi-scale analysis. PhD Dissertation, West Virginia University, Morgantown. August 2018