Conservation Biology of Prairie Reptiles and Amphibians


Currently, I am studying the importance of peripheral and disjunct populations to the conservation of species. The objectives of this research are two-fold: 1) determine the genetic diversity and differentiation of peripheral and disjunct populations, and the conservation consequences of these patterns, and 2) examine the combined effects of habitat fragmentation and biogeography as mechanisms of genetic differentiation.

My research focuses on conservation biology of amphibians and reptiles. My post-doctoral research working with Mark Forbes (Carleton University) investigated the impacts of anthropogenic or natural stress on immune function, and its relationship to life-history trade-offs in amphibians. My Ph.D. research with Patrick Gregory (University of Victoria) focused on the costs of reproduction in the northern alligator lizard.

Recent Publications

Cairns, N.A., Rutherford, P.L. and D.J. Hoysak (2018) Morphology, reproduction, habitat use, and hibernation of Red-bellied Snake (Storeria occipitomaculata) near its northern range limit. Canadian Field Naturalist 132 (2): 150-162.

Rutherford, P.L. and Cairns, N.A. (2018) Morphology, reproduction, seasonal activity and habitat use of a northern population of the Smooth Greensnake (Opheodrys vernalis). Journal of North American Herpetology 2018 (2): 18-24.

Rutherford, P. L., Malcolm, C. D., Meadows, K., Burke, M., and Pratt. S. (2017) Chelydra Serpentina (Snapping Turtle). Movement and Flood Response. Herpetological Review 48 (3):619–21.

Lesbarrères, D., Ashpole, S.L., Bishop, C.A., Blouin-Demers, G., Brooks, R.J., Echaubard, P., Govindarajulu, P., Green, D.M., Hecnar, S.J., Herman, T., Houlahan, J., Litzgus, J.D., Lougheed, S.C., Mazerolle, M.J., Paszkowski, C.A., Rutherford, P., Schock, D.M., and Storey, K. (2014) Conservation of herpetofauna in northern landscapes: Threats and challenges from a Canadian perspective. Biological Conservation 170: 48-55.

Krause Danielsen, A., Rutherford, P.L. and Koper, N. (2013) The importance of vegetation structure and artificial cover for Prairie Skinks (Plestiodon septentrionalis) on exurban land. Journal of Herpetology 48: 67-73.

Rutherford,P.L., Cairns, N.A., and Gushulak, N.C. (2010) Heterodon nasicus (Plains Hog-nosed Snake) Diet and prey size. Herpetological Review 41: 236-237.