Post-doctoral Research Fellow
Forestry and Environmental Conservation Department
Office: Lehotsky 118A
Ph.D. Wildlife and Fisheries Resources
West Virginia University 2016
Western Carolina University 2003
Presbyterian College 1999
Forested Watershed Management
Understanding Ecology and Ecosystems
As a postdoctoral fellow, my research interests are in the area of spatial planning for conservation at various scales. Since completing my doctoral work I have engaged with stakeholders at various spatial scales (e.g., Appalachian Landscape Conservation Cooperative, Palmetto Green, and Tennessee River Basin) to develop products that inform on the ground conservation efforts. I look forward to continuing to work on projects with these groups and others to aid conservation practitioners in their efforts to spend their valuable resources efficiently. Prior to my postdoctoral fellowship, and still a primary research interest, much of my research interests were focused on the influence anthropogenic disturbances have on aquatic populations and communities at multiple spatial scales. At the local scale, I have investigated dam and land use influences on downstream fish and aquatic benthic macroinvertebrate community structure and crayfish populations. These types of local scale p! rojects allow for intensive field sampling of aquatic biota, and in stream and riparian habitat characteristics, large scale regional analyses require data to be collected from a variety of data sources. Biological and habitat/land use data are typically garnered from various state and federal agencies (e.g., EPA, National Land Cover Database). At the regional scale, I developed and used various aquatic community metrics to evaluate the impact of large scale land use stressors on the biological condition of watersheds across the central and southern Appalachians. I am also interested in the spatiotemporal gradient associated with disturbance and what distance/time is required for a population and/or community to reach some reference condition. I believe this spatially nested, diverse taxonomic, and varied quantitative approach lends itself to a wide variety of interesting research questions. Land use conversion from primarily natural landscapes to developed lands is considered one of the greatest threats to conservation. Most recently I have become interested in sustainable land use practices that promote environmental conservation, land owner profitability, and social equity. Working with a cross-disciplinary team of researchers and stakeholders in the Congaree Biosphere Region, we are developing a holistic, systems based spatial plan that promotes sustainable forestry practices in the region known as the “Green Heart” of South Carolina. Our approach attempts to integrate a spatial conservation plan where ecosystem services (both evaluation of and willingness to pay), potential for mitigation and conservation easements, improved efficiency in the spatial configuration of forestry operations, and ecotourism all promote a sustainable forestry industry in the region.
Fortunately, my research interests can be extended to any location as land use gradients across can be found with relative ease on nearly any landscape. It excites me to consider furthering my research interests across both terrestrial and aquatic realms and to potentially new (to me) territories. Additionally, landscape conservation design is continuing to become a trusted and utilized tool to prioritize limited conservation resources and I look forward to developing these types of products, educating stakeholders and students about them, and informing on the ground decisions that are impactful for conservation. I truly look forward to extending my own passion for conservation and environmental sciences to students through a variety of interdisciplinary research
Brumm, K. J., B. K. Peoples, R. D. Hanks, and R. F. Baldwin. Addressing the potential of scale-linked conservation planning for freshwater ecosystems. Conservation Biology. (Revision in Progress)
Brumm, K. J., B. K. Peoples, R. D. Hanks, and R. F. Baldwin. Accounting for multiple dimensions of biodiversity to assess surrogate performance in a freshwater conservation prioritization. Ecological Indicators. (Revision in Progress)
Hanks, R. D., R. J. Baldwin, R. C. Coen, T. Folks, E. Wiggers, and E. Fields-Black. Wetland transformation at the landscape scale: expanding historical understanding of the distribution of rice fields built by the enslaved in the United States. Ecology and Society. (Submitted)
Hanks, R. D., Y. Kanno, J. M. Rash, and D. W. Goodfred. Development and evaluation of standard weight (Ws) equations for Brook Trout in southern Appalachian streams. North Journal of Applied Ichthyology. (In Review)
Baldwin, R. F., R. D. Hanks, and J. S. Dertien. Landscape ecology for biological conservation. Routledge Handbook of Landscape Ecology. (In Print)
Hanks, R. D., P. B. Leonard, and R. F. Baldwin. 2020. Understanding landscape influences on aquatic fauna across the central and southern Appalachians. Land. 9(1). 16. https://doi.org/10.3390/land9010016
Hanks, R. D. Dams: anthrome enablers. 2020. Encyclopedia of the World’s Biomes. Reference Module for Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences. doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-409548-9.12035-4
Hanks, R. D., Baldwin, R. F., Leonard, P. B., G. Bee, and P. Claflin. 2019. Interactive online tool for educating the public about landscape conservation. Journal of Extension 57(2) Article 2TOT5. https://www.joe.org/joe/2010june/a3.php
Pregler, K. C., R. D. Hanks, E. Childress, N. P. Hitt, D. J. Hocking, B. H. Letcher, T. Wagner, and Y. Kanno. 2019. Hierarchical analysis of power to detect regional brook trout population trends at the southern range. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. Doi: 10.1139/cjfas-2018-0241
Hanks, R. D. and K. J. Hartman. 2019. Evaluation of the influences of dam release types, land use, and habitat affecting abundance, richness, diversity, and community structure of larval and juvenile fish. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. doi: 10.1139/cjfas-2017-107.
Hanks, R. D., Y. Kanno, and J. M. Rash. 2018. Can single-pass electrofishing replace three-pass depletion for state-wide population trend detection? Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 147:729-739. doi:10.1002/tafs.10061.
Leonard, P. B., R. F. Baldwin, and R. D. Hanks. 2017. Landscape-scale conservation design across biotic realms: sequential integration of aquatic and terrestrial landscapes. Scientific Reports 7 (article 14556). doi:10.103/s41598-017-15304-w
Hanks, D., R. Andrew, and A. Anderson. 2015. West Virginia University graduate students lead citizen science program. Fisheries Magazine 40 (7):302.