Dr. O’Connell has 40+ years of professional experience in wildlife ecology and natural resource management. He holds a doctorate in wildlife ecology from the University of Massachusetts, and worked for the U.S. Department of Interior and U.S. Department of Agriculture as a biologist, research scientist, program manager, and administrator. He has worked at Gateway National Recreation Area and Fire Island National Seashore in NY, Acadia National Park in Maine, where he also directed the National Park Service’s Cooperative Research Unit at the University of Maine’s flagship campus in Orono. Between 2001 and 2020, he was stationed at the world-renowned Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel MD, known for its work on endangered species conservation, population ecology, and wildlife toxicology.
He has over 60 technical publications to his credit, and in 2011 was the senior editor of Camera Traps in Animal Ecology: Methods and Analyses, the treatise on the application of remote cameras for the study of animal population dynamics. Published by Springer, the work has revolutionized how conservation practitioners’ study and analyze animal population data, and assess biodiversity around the world.
Much of his recent research focused on predator ecology and endangered species including the Florida Panther, Lower Keys marsh rabbit, and the Key Largo woodrat. He directed the development of the Atlantic Seabird Compendium, a clearinghouse for occurrence information of marine birds in the western Atlantic, and statistical sampling guidelines for assessing marine avian hotspots. Both efforts continue to guide offshore wind energy development and its impact on Atlantic seabirds. During his tenure at Patuxent, he supervised the North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS), National Bird Banding Laboratory (BBL), Northeast program of the Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative (ARMI), Whooping Crane captive breeding and recovery program, and the quantitative methods group, a cadre of scientists working on marine mammals, endangered species recovery, adaptive management, structured decision making (SDM), stream and landscape ecology, climate change, mammalian taxonomy, and the development of statistical applications for conservation. His current interests include occupancy estimation, non-invasive sampling of wildlife, assessment of biodiversity information, and wildland management.