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

Pennsylvania Technical Assistance Activities

Research conducted by the Pennsylvania Unit helps to inform management of white-tailed deer.

As part of our mission, each of the Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit scientists routinely provides technical assistance such assistance with study design and data analysis support, special training in statistical analysis, workshops, and consultations on a variety of natural resource issues.

See a few of our recent contributions below.

Description and Agency Provider(s) Date
Surveyed heron rookery on Susquehanna River
Diefenbach April 2004
Survey heron rookery on Susquehanna River
Diefenbach April 2003
Site visit with Pennsylvania state personnel to discuss an environmental sampling program at a hatchery
Carline December 2001
Served on a science advisory committee meeting for the Eastern Rivers and Mountains Network
Diefenbach December 2004
Served on a panel to review Wisconsin's deer population estimation methods
Diefenbach September 2005
Served on a interdisciplinary, multi-agency team to develop guidelines for development and conduct of scientifically sound surveillance programs for detecting Chronic Wasting Disease in free-ranging cervids, U.S. Geological Survey, National Wildlife Health Center, Madison, Wisconsin,
Diefenbach December 2002
Served as expert reviewer for a Thermal Fish Index developed by the PA Department of Protection, as the request of the PA Fish & Boat Commission.
PA Fish & Boat Commission
Wagner March 2021
Reviewer for the Chesapeake Bay Trust Pooled Monitoring Initiative’s Restoration Research Award Program – FY 2. Served as an expert reviewer for proposals to restoration and management practices in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
Chesapeake Bay Trust
Wagner February 2021
Reviewed the Pennsylvania Game Commission's draft Deer Management Plan and provided comments and recommendations
Diefenbach July 2002
Reviewed brook trout conservation plan for the PA Fish and Boat Commission
Carline June 2006
Reviewed a species status assessment (SSA) for the Florida Key deer
Southeast Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Diefenbach December 2017
Provided technical advice to New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife regarding methods of estimating abundance of black bears
Diefenbach February 2003
Provided recommendations on designing a trout spawning survey to Trout Unlimited Watershed Coordinator, Amy Gottesfeld.
Carline September 2002
Provided printed materials and advice to a Cumberland County fishing club on techniques to treat an acidified stream.
Carline April 2005
Provided population estimates for black bears in New Jersey for the NJ Division of Wildlife using 2003-2-14 data.
New Jersey Division of Wildlife
Diefenbach January 2015
Provided expert opinion on Trout Unlimited's conservation portfolio analysis for the eastern range of the brook trout. This occurred via a webinar to discuss results of their assessment.
Trout Unlimited
Wagner April 2016
Provided evalation of efficacy of sampling hunter-killed deer to detect presence of chronic wasting disease in Pennsylvania
Diefenbach July 2003
Provided analyses of angler survey data to state biologists
Carline May 2006
Provide technical assistance/expert opinion to Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, through Cambium Inc., to help guide efforts to manage and monitor both brook trout and their habitat across southern Ontario.
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (
Wagner February 2016
Participating in a working group that reviewed guidelines and policies for the stocked trout program.
Carline September 2005
Participated on a panel to review selection criteria for state wildlife grants.
Carline March 2004
Participated in a workshop to develop a risk assessment procedure for chronic wasting disease in cervids for use by state wildlife agencies
Diefenbach April 2004
Participated in a workshop that reviewed monitoring plans for the National Park Service
Carline May 2005
Participated in a working group to design two studies for PA Fish & Boat Comm.
Carline January 2006
Participated in a Trout Working Group session that reviewed regulation proposals for the PA Fish and Boat Commission
Carline January 2005
Participated in a Conservation Action Planning Workshop
Carline September 2006
Participated in a 2-day workshop sponsored by the PA Game Commission to provide input on avian conservation in Pennsylvania.
Diefenbach November 2004
Organized a panel of freshwater mussel experts who reviewed existing protocols for sampling mussels in large rivers and developed revised protocols.
Carline June 2005
Met with bear biologists from Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania to discuss survival and population estimation as well as aversive conditioning techniques for nuisance bears and possible multi-state research
Diefenbach March 2005
Member of the Chesapeake Bay brook trout technical team to provide expertise on statistical model development and application.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Wagner April 2014
Member of the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Brook Trout Action Team to develop a management strategy for brook trout in the Chesapeake Bay
Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture
Wagner October 2014
I served on a technical review panel to review and comment on stock assessment and simulation models of management performance and to share criticisms with the Lake Erie Percid Management Advisory Group (LEPMAG). The LEPMAG is a partnership between the Lake Erie Committee and the Lake Erie fisheries stakeholders. LEPMAG works to develop fisheries management plans for walleye and yellow perch.
Lake Erie Percid Management Advisory Group
Wagner February 2012
I served as an USGS-OSQI-RGE panel member - Fisheries and Aquatic Organisms (Su 2023)
Wagner October 2023
Helped Trout Unlimited chapter set up an environmental fellowship for a graduate student and screened applicants.
Carline December 2002
Facilitated presentation by economists on value of recreational fishing for technical and nontechnical audience
Carline January 2006
Facilitated Structured Decision Making workshop for Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry to develop a decision model for managing deer with respect to forest vegetation conditions.
PA DCNR, Bureau of Forestry
Wagner February 2011
Facilitated Structured Decision Making workshop for Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry to develop a decision model for managing deer with respect to forest vegetation conditions.
PA DCNR, Bureau of Forestry
Wagner, Diefenbach February 2010
Conducted groundwater sampling on Big Spring Creek.
Carline February 2003
Conducted a redd survey on Big Spring Creek for the PA Fish & Boat Commission.
Carline November 2002
Assisted state fisheries biologists in developing a sampling design to assess fisher use of wild trout streams in Pennsylvania
Diefenbach March 2004
Assisted state biologists with designing an angler survey for wild trout streams
Carline January 2004
Assisted state biologist with designing a sampling program for detection of PCBs at fish hatcheries.
Carline February 2004
Assisted local sewer authority and state EPA personnel with design of fish sampling protocol.
Carline May 2006
Assisted in a horseshoe crab survey.
Carline, Snyder June 2003
Assisted environmental monitoring volunteers with selection of stream sampling sites
Carline May 2006
Assisted USFWS staff at Rappahannock NWR to conduct a pilot study to develop techniques for monitoring wintering grassland songbirds.
Diefenbach January 2005
Assisted U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with hooking mortality study.
Carline May 2002
Assisted PA Fish and Boat Personnel with design of a state-wide angler survey on stocked trout streams
Carline February 2005
Assisted PA Fish & Boat Comm. staff with study design for angler survey
Carline April 2006
Assist Deer Management Section of the Pennsylvania Game Commission with developing management programs and activities, and developing research projects.
Diefenbach July 2002
Assist DCNR with developing a process for setting deer harvest allocations on state forest lands
PA DCNR, Bureau of Forestry
Diefenbach October 2009
Advised PA Fish & Boat Commission on a groundwater sampling protocol at Huntsdale Hatchery.
Carline November 2002
Role - Description Provider         Start Date        End Date       
co-chair Ecology Admissions Committee - As co-chair, I run the admissions process for the Ecology Interdisciplinary Degree Program (IDGP) at Penn State. I review all applications, coordinate additional faculty reviews, provide recommendations on whether students are acceptable for the Ecology Program, and handle any disputes or other issues that may arise during the application/admissions process. Wagner August 2022 Present
Member, ad hoc Graduate Review Committee Diefenbach September 2008 August 2009
Member, ad hoc Computer Technology Committee Diefenbach July 2006 August 2010
Member, ad hoc Computer Committee Diefenbach September 2007 August 2009
Member, School of Forest Resources Safety Committee Diefenbach May 2005 May 2007
Member, Forestlands Committee Diefenbach August 2009 Present
Member of ad hoc Grants and Contracts Faculty Committee - Provide input to Grants and Contracts Office for improving handling of grant proposals. Diefenbach April 2016 Present
Graduate Program Committee - Administer PhD candidacy exams in Wildlife and Fisheries Science program. Assist with allocating departmental graduate assistantships. Review graduate applications to the program. Diefenbach January 2014 August 2016
Faculty search committee member - Served on a search committee to hire a new Aquatic Sciences faculty member in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management. Wagner March 2021 April 2021
Ecology Admissions Committee - Main jobs are to review applications online, determine whether students should be admitted, and provide online comments for each applicant to help Ecology Program Chair and faculty members make decisions. Wagner December 2020 January 2021
Ecology Admissions Committee - Main jobs are to review applications online, determine whether students should be admitted, and provide online comments for each applicant to help Ecology Program Chair and faculty members make decisions. Wagner December 2011 December 2013
Chair, Curriculum Committee for IGDP in Ecology Diefenbach August 2007 August 2010
Role and Organization Individual         Start Date        End Date       
Wildlife Action Plan Advisory Committee Diefenbach December 2012 October 2015
Member, Steering Committee, Rethinking Deer Management from an Ecological Perspective Diefenbach October 2001 November 2003
Chronic Wasting Disease Consortium - Secretary Walter May 2023 May 2024
Chronic Wasting Disease Consortium - Member Walter January 2019 Present
At-large Member, Pennsylvania Biological Survey Diefenbach August 2002 August 2010
Affiliate Member, Quantitative Fishery Center, Michigan State University Wagner March 2012 Present
Outreach Activity Provider(s)        Date       
With the overarching goal of determining how the always-fatal-to-cervids disease will disburse through the state's free-ranging white-tailed deer herd, the research is aimed at informing the commission's efforts to slow or limit the spread of the disease. Walter May 2017
Water resources monitoring in the Spring Creek basin. Carline September 2003
Water resource monitoring in the Spring Creek watershed; Nittany Valley Planning Comm. Carline May 2004
Water resource monitoring in the Spring Creek watershed; Centre Region Planning Comm. Carline May 2004
Water resource monitoring in the Spring Creek watershed; Centre County Planners Carline February 2004
Was interviewed by a reported from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette regarding paddlefish project. Carline February 2002
Was interviewed by WHYY radio station for a report on paddlefish project. Carline March 2002
Was interviewed by Scripps Howard News Service regarding effects of climate change on fishery resources. Carline May 2002
The Wildlife Society online: Deer in the Mid-Atlantic may be more susceptible to chronic wasting disease than deer elsewhere, according to recent research, which found they carry more gene markers known to represent a high susceptibility to the fatal neurological disease than other deer. Walter June 2019
The Wagner Lab discussed the importance of water quality and stream health with 160 first and second grade students at a local school. Wagner, Massie, White, McClure September 2019
The Wagner Lab at Penn State University talked with approximately 90 local elementary school children about fish ecology and threats to freshwater fish biodiversity, including invasive species and climate change. The event included a presentation and activities. Wagner October 2022
Students from the State College Area School District Learning Enrichment/Gifted Support Program visited a study stream where Bob Mollenhauer and Dr. Wagner provided an overview of radio telemetry for studying movement and habitat use of stream fishes. The students were also given a tour of the USFWS Northeast Fishery Center and an overview of lake trout bioenergetics research by Megan Kepler. Wagner, Kepler, Mollenhauer November 2010
Special briefing for Pennsylvania agency administrators on accumulation of PCBs in hatchery trout Carline November 2001
Special briefing for Pennsylvania House of Representatives, House Game and Fisheries Committee on PCB accumulation in hatchery trout. Carline December 2001
Served as judge for Pennsylvania Waterfowl Management Stamp Design Contest Diefenbach September 2003
Provided written material to WPSX, Public Television Station, for production about brook trout and other natives Pennsylvania fishes. Carline January 2002
Provided update on snowshoe hare and cottontail rabbit research to a joint Pennsylvania Game Commission and houndsmen meeting at the Harrisburg Hq of the PGC Diefenbach June 2005
Provided to a graduate student from University of Maryland background information and data on a riparian restoration project. Carline April 2002
Provided overview of white-tailed deer research in Pennsylvania to the SE Pennsylvania State Chapter of the Quality Deer Management Association Diefenbach March 2009
Provided interview to reporter for Centre Daily Times regarding water quality status of Spring Creek. Carline September 2002
Provided interview to a reporter from the Centre Daily Times on stream pollution. Carline October 2002
Provided benthic data to Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. Carline January 2002
Provided a public tour of research grouse study area as part of Migratory Bird Day celebration Diefenbach May 2005
Provided a half day field tour on stream ecology for a youth fishing program. Carline August 2002
Provided a display on ecology of crayfish for a one-day public education program sponsored by the PA Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources. Carline June 2005
Provided a display at a one-day public education program sponsored by the ClearWater Conservancy. Carline September 2005
Presented a program on water resources monitoring to the Board of Directors of the ClearWater Conservancy. Carline August 2005
Presentation to the Spring Creek Chapter of Trout Unlimited on water quality issues in Spring Creek. Carline January 2002
Presentation to the PA Bureau of Forestry on the Deer-Forest Study and Decision Support Tool for their Deer Management Assistance Program Diefenbach January 2015
Presentation to the Beech Creek Watershed Association on deer research. Diefenbach April 2005
Presentation of research findings on white-tailed deer research in Pennsylvania at the Southeast Pennsylvania Chapter of the Quality Deer Management Association. Diefenbach March 2014
Persentation on managing trout streams to a youth conservation camp. Carline July 2003
Penn State News: Some deer are more susceptible to chronic wasting disease that is spreading through herds of white-tailed deer across much of the United States, according to Penn State researchers, who have identified a panel of genetic markers that reliably predict which animals are most vulnerable to the contagious neurological disorder. Walter June 2019
Organized presentations on economic evaluations of recreational fishing Carline January 2006
News release on results of deer hunter research studying deer hunter densities, movements, and distribution. Diefenbach February 2004
Made presentation at public meeting on management of Big Spring Creek. Carline January 2003
Made a presentation at the Pennsylvania Trout Summit Conference on accumulation of PCBs in hatchery trout. Carline September 2002
Interviewed for a Pennsylvania radio show on grouse research at the Barrens. Diefenbach October 2004
Information on watershed research for local newspaper. Carline September 2001
I created outreach materials and talked with approximately 70 elementary school children about vernal pool ecology. Wagner, Stark April 2023
I created outreach materials and talked with approximately 70 elementary school children about Earth's habitats and wetland ecology. Wagner, Stum, Chotlos May 2024
Guided field trip of Millbrook Marsh for members of the Clearwater Conservancy. Carline May 2002
Gave presentation on urban development and water resources and moderated a public forum Carline October 2005
Gave a talk on wastewater issues and moderated a public forum Carline January 2006
Gave a talk on groundwater issues and moderated a public forum Carline February 2006
Gave a talk and moderated a public forum on surface water issue Carline May 2006
Fair Chase Article: When we think about genetics of white-tailed deer we almost always think about the large antlered buck that we see walking by our tree stand. In fact, there is a booming business in the deer farming industry to share genetic materials to breed those bucks that give us the highest score. Over years or decades, mating these large-antlered bucks in captivity has resulted in deer farms having deer with antlers that we would never see in the wild deer we hunt. This form of breeding bucks for big anlters over many generations coincidently provides us with another tool in the toolbox for another type of deer research –landscape genetics of wild deer. The use of genetics in the deer farming industry is different than how we might use genetics to manage or understand the ecology of wild white-tailed deer. Genetics have become even more important recently due to the wild deer-farmed deer interface as it relates to chronic wasting disease. Walter June 2018
Effects of I-99 construction on Spring Creek Carline December 2003
Eastern US representative for USGS to a briefing to House and Senate Committee staffers to assist in understanding on chronic wasting disease for future funding initiatives to address research and management of the disease in Washington, D.C., 20–21 June (Invited Oral – 2 days) Walter June 2019
During the COVID-19 pandemic, I created an outreach video on vernal pools for use by local elementary schools. Wagner March 2021
Diefenbach, D. R. 2003. The Coop Unit: long term wildlife partners. Pennsylvania Game News 74(4):12-14. Diefenbach April 2003
Developed news release to describe ongoing progress of white-tailed deer research in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Game Commission. Diefenbach June 2003
Developed news release on upcoming research project to study the distribution of snowshoe hares in Pennsylvania. Diefenbach July 2003
Conducted field trip on stream sampling for senior volunteers Carline May 2006
Conducted electrofishing which was videotaped for TV production by WPSX, public television. Carline January 2002
Advised local TU group on stream site selection for restoration- 2 half day trips Carline July 2006
A two-year research project based in the Poconos region involves collecting otter scat -- excrement -- at hundreds of waterside locations, called latrines, in Monroe, Wayne, Carbon, Luzerne and Lackawanna counties, and subjecting it to DNA analysis to identify different animals. Data from those collections will be fed into a computer population model to calculate otter numbers Walter February 2014
A study of the spread of chronic wasting disease among white-tailed deer in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania found that infected deer tend to cluster in low-lying open and developed areas. These results suggest that state wildlife management agencies should concentrate surveillance efforts in such topography and landscapes. Walter April 2014