Dr. John "Jack" Hopkins
Assistant Professor of Wildlife Biology/ School of Biodiversity Conservation
Dr. Hopkins is an Assistant Professor of Wildlife Biology in the School of Biodiversity Conservation at Unity College. He also maintains research positions in the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at University of California Santa Cruz and the Forestry Department at University of Ljubljana in Slovenia. He earned a B.A. in Environmental Studies, concentrating in Wildlife Biology, at Denison University and a Ph.D. in Fish and Wildlife Biology at Montana State University. While in graduate school, Hopkins studied the ecology and foraging behavior of black bears in Yosemite National Park with his mentors Drs. Steven Kalinowski (Montana State), Paul Koch (UC Santa Cruz), and Chuck Schwartz (USGS). Prior to graduate school, Hopkins worked as a field biologist for the U.S. Forest Service in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the US Geological Survey in Glacier National Park, and National Park Service in both the US Virgin Islands, and more recently, Yosemite. Before joining Unity College, he held Postdoctoral Fellowships at University of Alberta, Peking University in China, University of California San Diego, and University of California Merced.
Dr. Hopkins is broadly interested in wildlife ecology, conservation, and management. He is particularly interested in using stable isotopes to study food webs, ecological niches, and causes and consequences of individual diet variation and specialization. He has primarily conducted field-based studies that use a variety of sampling methods and quantitative approaches to investigate the effects of environmental impacts on species interactions, wildlife-habitat relationships, and the foraging behavior of free-ranging mammalian carnivores. Please visit his website to read more about his research.
Hopkins uses stable isotopes from plant and animal tissues to investigate the trophic structure of food webs, the realized niches of populations, and the diets of individuals. He is active in advancing the use of stable isotope analysis in wildlife studies. For instance, he co-developed a stable isotope mixture modeling framework (IsotopeR) used to estimate the diets of animals. He and many others have used such models to investigate the foraging behavior of a variety of species from Threatened grizzly bears to invasive rats.
Although Hopkins uses a wide variety of traditional methods to study wildlife, including live-capture and radio-telemetry, he typically relies on noninvasive sampling methods to conduct his studies because they do not require handling the target animals and often yield relatively large samples that can be used for genetic and isotopic analyses. Hopkins often samples free-ranging mammal populations by collecting their hair. He uses microsatellite genotypes derived from hair follicles to estimate the occupancy or abundance of populations and to identify individuals and their relatives. He also uses stable isotopes from tissues catalogued in museums to gain a deeper temporal perspective about the diets of animals and the environment in which they lived.
Hopkins’ research is often collaborative, multidisciplinary, and innovative. For over 15 years, he has worked with a variety of partners from all over the world, including students and faculty, federal and state/provincial agencies, NGOs, and other interest groups. Much of his research has been funded by resource management agencies and conducted on public lands that are influenced by people or are undergoing other forms of environmental change. As a result, informing wildlife conservation, management, and policy is often a main goal of his research.
Teaching & Mentorship
Dr. Hopkins often frames lectures around questions, uses guided inquiry and Socratic questioning in small classrooms, and provides hands-on learning exercises in the lab and field. He teaches a variety of classes related to wildlife ecology, conservation, and management. At Unity, Hopkins has taught Wildlife Techniques, North American Wildlife (lab), and a seminar in Carnivore Research & Management. He will also be offering off-campus field courses and incorporates his research into undergraduate learning.
Hopkins is also active in mentoring graduate students at other institutions and undergraduate students aiming for field-based internships and abroad programs, graduate school, and careers in wildlife research and management. His motivation as a mentor is to see his students succeed in reaching their academic, professional, and personal goals. He will do all he can to help students find their way and stay on track.
Hopkins J.B., III, J.M. Ferguson, D.B. Tyers, & C.M. Kurle. 2017. Selecting the best stable isotope mixing model to estimate grizzly bear diets in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. PLoS ONE 12(5): e0174903.
Hopkins, J.B. III, & C.M. Kurle. 2015. Measuring the realized niches of animals using stable isotopes: from rats to bears. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 7:210–221.
Hopkins, J.B. III, P.L. Koch, J.M. Ferguson, & S.T. Kalinowski. 2014. The changing anthropogenic diets of American black bears over the past century in Yosemite National Park. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 12:107–114.
Hopkins, J.B. III. 2013. Use of genetics to investigate socially learned foraging behavior in free- ranging American black bears. Journal of Mammalogy 94:1214–1222.
Hopkins, J.B. III, P.L. Koch, C.C. Schwartz, J.M. Ferguson, S.S. Greenleaf, & S.T. Kalinowski. 2012. Stable isotopes to detect food-conditioned bears and evaluate human-bear management. Journal of Wildlife Management 76:703–713.
Hopkins, J.B. III, & J.M. Ferguson. Estimating the diets of animals using stable isotopes and a comprehensive Bayesian mixing model. 2012. PLoS ONE 7: e28478.doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0028478