Environmental Sciences

Environmental Sciences Experts

Sara L Zeigler

Mendenhall Postdoctoral Fellow
U.S. Geological Survey
The U.S. Geological Survey
United States Virgin Islands


Before coming to the USGS as a Mendenhall Fellow in 2014, I worked in a wide variety of systems. I was introduced to – and fell in love with - the discipline of conservation biology early in my undergraduate career when I was invited to assist on research on human-wildlife conflict with tigers in Sumatra, Indonesia. During this time, I spent a summer in Baja, Mexico, learning about conservation approaches for sea turtles. I went on to complete a professional degree in conservation biology at the University of Maryland, where I was exposed to a wide curriculum in economics, policy, ecology, and geography – including a summer semester in tropical ecology in Costa Rica. I moved to the Department of Geographical Sciences at the University of Maryland to complete my PhD under the co-advisement of Drs. Ruth Defries and Bill Fagan. I studied the effects of habitat and connectivity loss for golden-headed lion tamarins in the Atlantic rainforests of Brazil. My post-doctoral research was completed at Virginia Tech under Dr. Jeff Walters, where we developed decision support tools for the conservation of red-cockaded woodpeckers on military installations in the southeastern U.S. Throughout this time, I’ve assisted in conservation workshops as a member of the IUCN’s Conservation Planning Specialist Group.

Research Interest

Landscape ecology Geographic information system analysis Habitat change Habitat connectivity Shorebirds


  • utierrez, BT, NG Plant, ER Thieler, A Turecek. 2015. Using a Bayesian network to predict barrier island geomorphologic characteristics. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface. 120: 2451-2475

  • Gutierrez, BT, NG Plant, EA Pendleton, ER Thieler. 2014. Using a Bayesian network to predict shoreline-change vulnerability to sea-level rise for the coasts of the United States. United States Geological Survey open file report 2014-1083. 26 pp.

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