John A. Vucetich

John A. Vucetich portrait
"I am a population biologist. I spend most of my time studying the wolves and moose of Isle Royale. I am also interested in the philosophy and ethics of ecological and conservation science."


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Professor, SFRES

  • PhD, Forest Science, Michigan Technological University
  • BS, Biology, Michigan Technological University

Ad vitam paramus

The purpose of the Isle Royale wolf-moose project has been to observe and understand the dynamic fluctuations of Isle Royale’s wolves and moose, in the hope that such knowledge will inspire a new, flourishing relationship with nature. I seek to understand, but thinking that I understand destroys understanding. My approach to this paradox is to wake up every morning and hope to be shown how something - the more basic the better - is not what I think it is. To be shown wrong, repeatedly, is what I hope for as a scientist. This may be the only route to learning and understanding.

Environmental ethicists and environmental scientists have a common goal, which is to better understand how we ought to relate to nature. Nevertheless, these two groups employ wildly different methods and premises, and sadly these scholars rarely interact. This the basis for my interest in environmental ethics.

Areas of Expertise

  • Demographic and genetic elements of population biology
  • Ecology of wolves and moose
  • Environmental ethics

Recent Publications

  • Vucetich JA, Hebblewhite M, Smith DW, Peterson RO. 2011. Predicting Prey population dynamics from kill rate, predation rate and predator-prey ratios in three wolf- ungulate systems. Journal of Animal Ecology (May 13). doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2656.2011.01855.x.
  • Nelson, MP, JA Vucetich, PC Paquet, JK Bump. 2011. North American Model: An Inadequate Construct? The Wildlife Professional 58-60 (May 2011).
  • Adams JR, LM Vucetich, PW Hedrick, RO Peterson, JA Vucetich. in press. Genomic sweep and potential genetic rescue during limiting environmental conditions in an isolated wolf population. Proceedings Royal Soc B (doi:10.1098/rspb.2011.0261) (March 2011).
  • Nelson, MP, JA Vucetich, RO Peterson, LM Vucetich. 2011. The Isle Royale Wolf-Moose Project (1958-present) and the Wonder of Long-Term Ecological Research. Endeavour 35(1):30-38 (Feb 2011).
  • Silvia, WJ, RO Peterson, WF Silvia, JA Vucetich, AW Silvia. 2011. The occurrence and morphology of a lateral metatarsal splint bone in moose (Alces alces). The Anatomical Record 294(2):231-235 (Feb 2011).
  • Metz, MC, JA Vucetich, DW Smith, DR Stahler, RO Peterson. 2011. Effect of Sociality and Season on Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) Foraging Behavior: Implications for Estimating Summer Kill Rate. PLoS ONE 6(3)e17332 (March 2011).
  • Peterson, RO, JA Vucetich, G Fenton, TD Drummer, CS Larsen. 2010. The ecology of arthritis. Ecology Letters doi: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2010.01504.x (Sept 2010).
  • Vucetich JA, Nelson MP. 2010. Sustainability: virtuous or vulgar? Bioscience 60(7):539-544 (July, 2010).
  • Wolf-moose research on Isle Royale, NSF
  • Wolf-moose research on Isle Royale, NPS
  • Wolf research in Yellowstone National Park, NSF
  • Genetic monitoring of Isle Royale wolves, NPS

Teaching Experience

  • Environmental Ethics
  • Wildlife Ecology & Management
  • Population Ecology
  • Wolves & Moose of Isle Royale
  • Mammalogy