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I am the Director of the Government of the Virgin Islands' Department of Planning and Natural Resources - Division of Fish and Wildlife. Our fisheries and wildlife staff of about two dozen employees work across the U.S. Virgin Islands (St. Thomas, St. John, St. Croix) to conserve natural resources and provide scientific expertise to the GVI.


My research integrates landscape and population modeling to inform conservation decision making and is used to frame our work. I was inspired by Aldo Leopold, who famously wrote in A Sand County Almanac, 'To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.' Thus our research program is driven by persistence-related species' population goals, and I optimistically believe that science can help answer the question, "Why do some species persist, while other closely related species go extinct?"

My ties remain strong with academic, federal, and non-profit research. Service activities to the research community include acting as the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles' Conservation Committee co-chair, the Partners for Amphibians and Reptiles Caribbean sub-chapter co-chair, and a Smithsonian Institution research collaborator. I review academic papers across biological disciplines for journals.

Several of my on-going research projects include:

Mechanisms of persistence: 

The puzzling ability of some species to persist when closely related species decline is a major theme of my research program. We investigate population-level Anthropocene-era (pre- vs. post- 1947) morphological, physiological, and genomic changes in closely-related species. We collaborate most recently with the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, USDA, FWS, University of Maryland, Texas A&M University, Westfield State University, Interamericana University of Arecibo, and the University of Puerto Rico.

Predicting where populations are vulnerable:

Repatriating species when threats exist to recover biodiversity and ecological function is an idea that our research program is exploring with partners in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, and USVI Department of Planning and Natural Resources. We are applying conservation theory to maintain species, for example reciprocal translocations of St. Croix ground lizards funded in 2017 through a federal ESA Section 6 agreement in the U.S. Virgin Islands and repatriation of St. Croix ground lizards in 2022. Our larger goal is repatriating species to their historic ranges. 

Modeling for conservation decision making:

Species status assessments are a new tool for the federal U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to make decisions related to the listing, recovery of endangered species. At the Alabama Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Unit, I worked on Service-led projects to apply quantitative tools to analyze current conditions and predict future conditions in species status assessment. My specialty has been in applying population models to very widespread and very cryptic species.


Contact me for publications or collaborations using email or the form at right.

email: nicoleangeli1 @


Twitter: @WildlifeSci

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