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

New Mexico Staff Member


Dr. Abby Lawson

Photo of Dr. Abby Lawson hiking in West Virginia

Assistant Unit Leader
Email: alawson@usgs.gov
Faculty Email: ajlawson@nmsu.edu
Faculty Website

Education

  • Ph D Clemson University 2019
  • MS University of Nevada, Reno 2012
  • BS University of California, Davis 2007

Biography

Dr. Lawson joined the New Mexico Unit as an Assistant Unit Leader of Wildlife in 2021. She received graduate degrees from the University of Nevada, Reno and Clemson University, and later worked as a postdoc in the Alabama Cooperative Research Unit at Auburn University, followed by the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. Her research is management- and conservation-motivated, incorporating ecological theory and quantitative methods to support decision making in the face of uncertainty. Her research often involves field studies to estimate population vital rates, and to describe movement and foraging patterns. Most of her research focuses on upland game birds, waterfowl, and reptiles, though she also works with species of conservation concern including raptors, migratory songbirds, and cryptic marshbirds. A second major component of her research involves the application of structured decision making and adaptive management, as well as the development of predictive models and decision analytic tools. She has provided decision support for diverse topics including monitoring program design, harvest programs, species conservation status designations, capital investments, and research prioritization. Dr. Lawson teaches graduate-level courses in Structured Decision Making and Science Communication.

Areas of Expertise

Adaptive Management, Behavioral Ecology, Contaminants, Decision Support/Analysis, Desert Ecology, Energy: Development/Alternative, Grassland Ecology, Population Dynamics, Population and Community Ecology, Resilience, Species Management, Species Status Assessments, Statistics and Modelling, T&E Species Management, Toxicology, Wildlife Management

Taxon Groups Studied

Amphibians, Gamebirds, Nongame Fish/Wildlife, Reptiles, Songbirds, Species of Greatest Conservation Need, Waterfowl

Research Publications Publication Date
Lawson, A.J., K. Kalasz, M.C. Runge, A.C. Schwarzer, M.L. Stantial, M. Woodrey, J.E. Lyons. 2022. Application of qualitative value of information to prioritize uncertainties about eastern black rail population recovery. Conservation Science and Practice 4:e12732. | Abstract | Download | Publisher Website May 2022
Lawson, A.J., J.S. Sedinger, and E.J. Taylor. 2017. Life history patterns, individual heterogeneity, and density dependence in breeding common goldeneyes of the northern boreal forest. Journal of Avian Biology 48:597–610. doi:10.1111/jav.00975 | Abstract | Publisher Website February 2017
Lawson, A.J., J.S. Sedinger, and E.J. Taylor. 2017. Identifying demographic and environmental drivers of recruitment and population growth in a cavity nesting sea duck population. Journal of Avian Biology 48:1394–1405. doi: 10.1111/jav.01359 | Abstract | Publisher Website September 2017
Lawson, A.J., Clinton T. Moore, Thomas R. Rainwater, Frances M. Nilsen, Philip M. Wilkinson, Russell H. Lowers, Louis J. Guillette Jr., K.W. McFadden, and Patrick G.R. Jodice. 2020. Nonlinear patterns in mercury bioaccumulation in American alligators are a function of predicted age. Science of the Total Environment 707:135103. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.135103 | Download March 2020
Lawson AJ, Folt B, Tucker AM, Erickson FT, McGowan CP. 2021. Decision context is a necessary component of population viability analysis appraisal. Conservation Biology. doi: 10.1111/cobi.13818 | Publisher Website August 2021
Lee, James
Master's
jlee97@nmsu.edu

Zimba, Heather
Master's
hzimba@nmsu.edu

Presentations Presentation Date
Stantial, M.L., A.M.V. Fournier, A.J. Godar, A.J. Lawson, P.K. Kappes, C.S. Kross, M.S. Woodrey, J.E. Lyons. 2022. Informing the use of prescribed fire in an adaptive management framework for Gulf of Mexico high marshes using an expert-based Bayesian decision network. Gulf of Mexico Conference; Baton Rouge, Louisiana. 25-28 April. April 2022
Stantial, M.L., A.M.V. Fournier, A. Godar, A.J. Lawson, J.E. Lyons. 2022. Using An Expert-Based Bayesian Network to Inform the Use of Prescribed Fire in High Marshes of the Gulf of Mexico. The Wildlife Society Annual Conference; Spokane, Washington. 6-10 November. November 2022
Stantial, M.L., A.J. Lawson, A.M.V. Fournier, P. Kappes, C. Kross, M.C. Runge, M. Woodrey, J.E. Lyons. 2022. Qualitative Value of Information Provides a Transparent and Repeatable Method for Identifying Critical Uncertainty Regarding the Use of Prescribed Fire to Benefit Black Rails and Other Marshbirds. Institute for Operations Research and Management Sciences Annual Meeting; Indianapolis, Indiana. 16-29 October. October 2022
Stantial, M.L., A.J. Lawson, A.M.V. Fournier, P. Kappes, C. Kross, M.C. Runge, M. Woodrey, J.E. Lyons. 2021. Qualitative Value of Information Provides a Transparent and Repeatable Method for Identifying Critical Uncertainty Regarding the Use of Prescribed Fire to Benefit Black Rails and Other Marshbirds. The Wildlife Society Annual Conference; Virtual. 1-5 November. November 2021
Stantial, M.L., A.J. Lawson, A.M.V. Fournier, P. Kappes, C. Kross, M.C. Runge, M. Woodrey, J.E. Lyons. 2021. Qualitative Value of Information Provides a Transparent and Repeatable Method for Identifying Critical Uncertainty Regarding the Use of Prescribed Fire to Benefit Black Rails and Other Marshbirds. American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting; Virtual. 13-17 December. December 2021
Stantial, M.L., A.J. Lawson, A.M.V. Fournier, P. Kappes, C. Kross, M. Woodrey, J.E. Lyons. 2021. Informing the use of prescribed fire in an adaptive management framework for Gulf of Mexico high marshes using an expert-based Bayesian Network model. Gulf of Mexico Conference; Virtual. 14th April. April 2021
Lyons, J.E., A.J. Lawson, M.L. Stantial, A. Weldon. 2021. Ecology and conservation of Eastern black rail: Road to recovery through management. The Wildlife Society Annual Conference, Virtual, 1-5 November. November 2021
Lee, J.B., D.J. Vargo, J.B. Bulger, C.J. Cardinal, M.A. Boggie, E.J. Goldstein, A.J. Lawson. 2022. Natural history and reintroduction of the white-tailed ptarmigan in New Mexico. Wilson Ornithological Society Meeting; Santa Fe, New Mexico. 17-20 July. July 2022
Lee, J.B., D.J. Vargo, J.B. Bulger, C.J. Cardinal, M.A. Boggie, E.J. Goldstein, A.J. Lawson. 2022. Natural history and reintroduction of the white-tailed ptarmigan in New Mexico. New Mexico Ornithological Society Meeting, Virtual; 26th March. March 2022
Lawson, A.J., and K.W. McFadden. 2014. Optimizing survey designs for complex habitat: evaluating seasonal variation of alligator abundance estimates derived from nightlight surveys in South Carolina. Crocodile Specialist Group Working Meeting, Lake Charles, Louisiana, USA. May 2014
Lawson, A.J., and K.W. McFadden. 2014. Optimizing Alligator Nightlight Survey Designs for Complex Habitat: Evaluating Seasonal Variation in Abundance and Detectability in South Carolina. The Wildlife Society Annual Conference, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Poster Presentation. October 2014
Lawson, A.J., and K.W. McFadden. 2013. South Carolina alligator adaptive management strategies: population dynamics, habitat utilization, and conservation threats. U.S. Geological Survey South Carolina Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit Coordinating Committee Meeting, Clemson, South Carolina. May 2013
Lawson, A.J., and K.W. McFadden. 2013. Influence of habitat on American Alligator densities in coastal South Carolina derived from nightlight survey data (1971-2012). The Wildlife Society Annual Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Poster presentation. October 2013
Lawson, A.J., P.G.R. Jodice. 2015. Do changes in size class composition influence ontogenetic niche shifts in American alligators? Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting. Baltimore, Maryland. September 2015
Lawson, A.J., P.G.R. Jodice, and C.T. Moore. 2019. Synthesizing monitoring data to estimate abundance and detection probability in American alligators in South Carolina. Southeastern Assoc Fish & Wildlife Agencies. October 2019
Lawson, A.J., M.L. Stantial, M.D. Correll, M. Hartley, K. Kalasz, M.C. Runge, A. Schwarzer, C. Watson, A. Weldon, and J.E. Lyons. 2021. Reducing uncertainties in eastern black rail conservation: qualitative value of information to identify field experiments in a resilience-experimentalist adaptive management framework. The Wildlife Society Annual Conference; Virtual. 1-5 November. November 2021
Lawson, A.J., M.L. Stantial, A.D. Smith, and J.E. Lyons. 2021. Best-case scenario planning: evaluating tradeoffs among abundance and occupancy monitoring frameworks to detect eastern black rail population trends in optimal habitat. The Wildlife Society Annual Conference; Virtual. 1-5 November. November 2021
Lawson, A.J., K.W. McFadden, P.G.R. Jodice. 2015. Does harvest pressure influence body size class composition in American alligator populations? The Wildlife Society Annual Meeting. Winnipeg, Manitoba. October 2015
Lawson, A.J., J.S. Sedinger, and E.J. Taylor. 2013. Does density dependence influence local recruitment and population growth of Common Goldeneyes? The Wildlife Society Annual Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Oral presentation. October 2013
Lawson, A.J., J.H. Gardner, M.L. Stantial, and C.S. Rushing. 2022. Value added conservation: prioritizing critical uncertainties for rosy-finch conservation in a warming world. Institute for Operations Research and Management Sciences; Indianapolis, Indiana. 16-19 October. October 2022
Lawson, A.J., J.H. Gardner, J.E. Lyons, C.S. Rushing, M.L. Stantial, M.C. Runge. 2022. Value-added conservation: Prioritizing critical uncertainties in avian conservation using value of information. Wilson Ornithological Society, Santa Fe, New Mexico. 17-20 July. July 2022
Lawson, A.J., J.E. Lyons, K. Kalasz, M.C. Runge, M. Woodrey. 2020. Application of Value of Information to Prioritize Conservation Actions for the Eastern Black Rail. Institute for Operations Research and Management Sciences; Virtual. 8-13 November. November 2020
Lawson, A.J., J.E. Lyons, K. Kalasz, M.C. Runge, A. Schwarzer, M.L. Stantial, M. Woodrey. 2020. Application of Value of Information to Prioritize Conservation Actions for the Eastern Black Rail on the Atlantic Coast. The Waterbirds Society Meeting; Virtual. 3-13 November. November 2020
Lawson, A.J., E. Rivenbark, C.P. McGowan. 2022. Reconciling and propagating uncertainty from expert elicited data into decision support population viability analyses. The Wildlife Society Annual Conference; Spokane, Washington. 6–10 November. November 2022
Lawson, A.J., C.T. Moore, and P.G.R. Jodice. 2018. Synthesizing multiple data streams to estimate abundance and detection probability in a highly wary, long-lived apex predator: an integrated modeling approach. International Statistical Ecology Conference, 2-6 July 2018, St. Andrews, Scotland. July 2018
Lawson, A.J., C.T. Moore, T.R. Rainwater, F.M. Nilsen, P.M. Wilkinson, R.H. Lowers, L.J. Guillette Jr., K.W. McFadden, and P.G.R. Jodice. 2019. Non-linear mercury bioaccumulation patterns in American alligators are a function of predicted age. The Wildlife Society Annual Conference, Reno, Nevada, USA. October 2019
Lawson, A.J. 2014. Land cover influence on South Carolina American alligator densities derived from nightlight surveys (1971-2013). Clemson University Graduate Research and Discovery Symposium, Clemson, South Carolina, 4 April 2014. April 2014
Lawson, A.J, P.G.R. Jodice, C.T. Moore. 2015. Using Seasonal Abundance Patterns to Improve Monitoring Programs and Conservation Decision-Making: An American Alligator Example. Annual Meeting of the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, 1-4 November 2015, Asheville, NC. November 2015
Lawson, A., P. Jodice, T. Rainwater, K.W. McFadden. Evaluating American alligator home range size and site fidelity patterns in artificial wetlands. International Congress for Conservation Biology; Cartagena, Colombia. July 2017
Lawson, A. J., T. G. Crawford, and C. T. Moore. 2019. Development of an American alligator adaptive harvest management framework: what can be learned from waterfowl management? Oral presentation at Joint Annual Conference of American Fisheries Society and The Wildlife Society, 29 September - 3 October 2019, Reno, NV. September 2019
Lawson, A. J., C. T. Moore, P. G. R. Jodice, and K. W. McFadden. 2016. Optimizing American alligator population survey design to improve management decision-making. The Wildlife Society 23rd Annual Conference, 15-19 October 2016, Raleigh, NC. October 2016
Lawson, A. J., C. T. Moore, B. E. Ross, and P. G. R. Jodice. 2018. Synthesizing multiple data streams to estimate abundance and detection probability in a highly wary, long-lived apex predator: an integrated modeling approach. The Wildlife Society 25th Annual Conference, 7-11 October 2018, Cleveland, OH. October 2018
Lawson AJ, DeMay SM, Rivenbark E, Soileau K, London K, Waddle JH, Yarborough L, Coppola C, and McGowan, CP, 2020, Accounting for Multiple Uncertainties to Evaluate Population Viability of the Alligator Snapping Turtle for the Species Status Assessment. The Wildlife Society Annual Conference; Virtual. October 2020.<br><br><br> October 2020
Correll, M.D., A.J. Lawson, M. Hartley, M.L. Stantial, C. Watson, A. Weldon, and J.E. Lyons. 2021. Reducing uncertainties in eastern black rail conservation: identifying species and management needs for a rare and highly cryptic marsh bird. The Wildlife Society Annual Conference; Virtual. 1-5 November. November 2021