Justin A. Dellinger

University of Washington - Wirsing Lab
Email: jad1nel2@gmail.com
Phone: 704-692-8142  
Mail: School of Environmental and Forest Sciences
University of Washington
Box 352100          
Seattle, WA 98195
Office: Winkenwerder 114a

Radio-collaring a male mountain lion captured in a snare on the San Carlos Apache Reservation in 2012
     About Me
     I am a good ol' southern boy born and raised in North Carolina.  I can honestly say I have been obsessed with animals since I was an infant.  From begging to go to every zoo within a days drive when I   was 5 to begging to go camping/backpacking (mostly by myself due to the superior hygiene practices of friends and family) when I was 15.  After graduating from Shelby High School in 2004 in Shelby, NC, I set off to attend the University of North Carolina Wilmington to study Biology (at the  time thinking I would become a biology teacher).  While at UNCW I took an internship at the Bald Head Island Conservancy in the summer of 2006 convinced me that  wildlife biology was my true passion.  So after graduating from UNCW in 2008 with a B.S. in Biology, and getting married to my wonderful wife Nikki (who also has  hygiene practices superior to my own) of 4+ years, I undertook a graduate position at Auburn University under Dr. Troy Best studying foraging and spatial ecology of red wolves (Canis rufus) in northeastern North Carolina (click for thesis).  After graduating in Spring of 2011 with an M.S. in Biology, and becoming a first time dad to  my son Jude five days after defending my thesis, the family and I headed to Arizona where I got a job as a wildlife researcher studying mountain lions (Puma concolor)  in collaboration with the San Carlos Apache Tribe.  In the summer of 2012 I accepted a Ph.D position at the University of Washington under Dr. Aaron Wirsing studying  the impacts of recolonizing gray wolves (Canis lupus) in Washington state on ungulate species.  I love to spout out random wildlife facts for my wife's benefit, teach my  son all manner of boyhood mischief and fun, hike and backpack with my certified ADD hound dog Mason, kayak, play rugby (that  is when I was younger and my body  could take such obscene abuse), and play and watch basketball (I have a mild addiction to Duke basketball which there is no cure for since growing up in NC).  I look  forward to exploring the left coast in my time at UW and hope to get my hands on all manner of wildlife (both fluffy and hazardous to my health).  

                                             My wife Nikki in Costa Rica on our honeymoon, 2008                              My son Jude and I hiking in, AZ 2011               Mason doing what hounds do best, laying on the front porch, with Jude, 2011


     Ok so predators rule!  There I said it, I am totally fascinated by the predators of the world, large and small.  That said my research interests lie at the crossroads of pure and applied questions concerning carnivores and their interactions with prey and humans.  I seek to ask ecological questions about how and why things work  but also think it is important for research to have application such as species and habitat management and conservation.  My M.S. work detailed the basic foraging and  spatial ecology of one of the rarest canids in the world, the red wolf (Canis rufus).  Beyond the purely ecological I investigated: low-cost management  techniques for monitoring red wolves in the  wild; foraging habits of red wolves in relation to accessibility of human-related food sources; and how habitat use of red wolves changes with human density and development.  Following my M.S. work I spent time in the beautiful desert southwest capturing and radio-collaring mounatin lions (Puma concolor). The goal of the research was to use radio-collar data in concert with remote game cameras to develop a technique to estimate mountain lion densities without having to capture and radio-collar mountain lions. At UW I am investigating the impact of recolonizing gray wolves in Washinton state on ungulate species.  Field  work will involve four (2012-2017) winter field seasons (December - April) on the north and south halves of the Colville Reservation in north-central Washingon. With the natural experiment provided by the recolonizing gray wolves, and cutting edge  technology (GPS and camera collars!!!), I hope to understand the 1) non-consumptive and 2) consumptive effects of wolves on ungulate species in Washington state as well as 3)  develop predator-prey models to understand how predation risk by wolves with respect to ungulate prey varies as a function of landscape variables, weather, and season.  With this information state biologists should be better able to predict the impact  that recolonizing gray wolves will have on  ungulate populations in Washington. Such an understanding with allow for proper management of ungulate prey for shared use by 1) hunters, which bring in substantial state revenue from buying tags, and 2) wolves, which currently carry a state and federal listing and attract tourist dollars. 

Field Work Update:

Progress Report 1


                Male red wolf re-released with a new radio-collar, 2010             Male red wolf near Lake Mattamuskeet NWR, 2010                                   Beech Ridge pack pups, 2009


- Wildlife Technician, Bald Head Island Conservancy.  May - August 2006.  This internship gave me tons of initial field experience.  I was able to to get hands on experience monitoring populations in the wild.  I conducted nightly surveys of deer and alligators on the island as well as monitoring of beaches for nesting loggerhead and green sea turtles. 

- Plant Biodiversity Research Technician, University of North Carolina Wilmington.  May 2006 - May 2007.  I investigated patterns of plant diversity in maritime forests with respect to varying age, size, and elevation of various maritime islands.  This research helped give a better understanding of how various environmental factors interact to direct plant diversity in these coastal ecosystems.  

- Assistant Curator, University of North Carolina Wilmington.  January - December 2007.  Assisted in preparing, maintaining, and cataloging specimens in the ornithology and mammalogy collections at the university.
- Bird Survey Technician, University of North Carolina Wilmington.  January - May 2007.  Conducted daily visual and auditory bird surveys in a long-leaf pine ecosystem to guide development of land with respect to species of concern.  

- Exotic Mammal Technician, University of North Carolina Wilmington.  August - December 2007.  Conducted surveys of rivers in southeastern North Carolina to determine the presence/absence of the invasive nutria or coypu (Myocastor coypus), a large rodent native to South America capable of devastating wetland habitats in North America.

- Paleoecology Research Technician, University of North Carolina Wilmington.  May 2007 - May 2008.  I identified carbon dated bone fragments taken from the Colorado Rockies to lowest possible taxonomic level in order to try and determine the faunal make-up of the Colorado Rockies during the mid-Miocene.  This research helped to give a better picture of how resitant alpine communities are to changes in climate.

- Mammal Research Technician, Colima, Mexico.  Winter 2009-2010.  I helped set-up and maintain trapping grids for small mammals in a tropical thorn forest to study interplay in population dynamics between the various species, as well as spatial and temporal habitat partitioning.  

- Graduate Researcher, Auburn University.  August 2008 - May 2011.  See thesis.

- Graduate Teaching Assistant, Auburn University.  August 2008 - May 2011. I taught the laboratory components for Mammalian Physiology, a hands-on live dissection lab involving anesthetized vertebrate lab animals, and Vertebrate Biodiversity, a field course detailing various methods used to catch, survey, and monitor vertebrate populations.

- Wildlife Researcher, San Carlos Apache Tribe Recreation and Wildlife Dept.  May 2011 - May 2012.  Set-up and maintained camera grids to determine occupancy and detection rates for mountain lions as a function of habitat.  Also used camera grids to determine interactions between mountain lions and prey species such as mule deer and elk.  I also made and deployed snares to catch and radio-collar mountain lions to better understand habitat use and foraging ecology.  Specifically we were interested in developing methods to determine mountain lion abundance across a given landscape and the impact that mountain lions were having on the cattle ranched by San Carlos Apache Tribe.  

            Male Mexican Gray Wolf in a Ponderosa Pine Forest, AZ 2011                   Bull Elk in a Ponderosa Pine Forest, AZ 2011              Mtn. Lion waking up from radio-collaring, captured with hounds, AZ 2012  

 - Dellinger, J. A., J. M. McVey, C. Moorman, and D. Cobb.  2011.  Diameter thresholds for distinguishing between red wolf and other canid scat.  Wildlife Society Bulletin 35(4):416-420.

 - Dellinger, J. A., T. D. Steury, B. L. Ortman, J. Bohling, and L. P. Waits.  2011.  Food habits of red wolves (Canis rufus) during pup-rearing season.  Southeastern Naturalist 10(4):731-740.

- Dellinger, J. A., C. Proctor, T. D. Steury, M. J. Kelly, and M. R. Vaughan.  2013.  Habitat selection of a large carnivore, the red wolf, in a human-altered landscape. Biological Conservation 157:324-330.  

 - Dellinger, J. A., C. Proctor, T. D. Steury, and M. J. Kelly. In Prep. Potential sites for continued reintroduction of the red wolf to its historic range. To be submitted to Journal of Wildlife Management.

 - Proctor, C., J. A. Dellinger, M. J. Kelly, and M. R. Vaughan. In Prep. Seasonal variation in red wolf home range size and composition. To be submitted to Journal of Mammalogy.

                                       Black bear in box canyon, Arizona, 2012                                            Exploring a bat cave, Mexico, 2010                               Setting small mammal traps, Mexcio, 2010


Todd Steury - Auburn University

Marcella Kelly - Virginia Tech

Christine Proctor - Virginia Tech

Joey Hinton - University of Georgia

Red Wolf Recovery Team including: Chris Lucash, Art Beyer, and Ford Mauney - U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Eric Krausz - Colville Confederated Tribes Fish & Wildlife

Donovan Antoine - Colville Confederated Tribes Fish & Wildlife

Matt Marsh - Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest

Woody Myers - Washington Dept. of Fish & Wildlife

Briand Kertson - Washington Dept. of Fish & Wildlife

Jude watching the lions at the zoo, 2012, reminding me never to get to busy in my work that I forget the initial awe I felt as a child watching animals.
Job 12: 7-10