Josh B. Pierce

Wildlife Biologist
506 Hayter Street
Nacogdoches, TX 75965-3556
Phone: 936-569-7981

Current Research

Home ranges and habitat use of Louisiana Pine Snakes

Effects of KR Bluestem on prairie birds using blackland prairies

Effects of prairie restoration on winter prairie bird abundances and diversity

Speyeria butterfly habitat use in Ouachita Mountains, AR.

Research Interests

Ecology and habitat use of the Louisiana Pine Snake

Ecology and habitat use of the Alligator Snapping Turtle

Why This Research is Important

The Louisiana pine snake (Pituophis ruthveni) occupies a limited range in eastern Texas and west-central Louisiana. Recent surveys have documented the continued presence of P. ruthveni at a limited number of sites in Texas and Louisiana, failed to document current presence at numerous sites within the historic range, and documented landscape level alteration in habitat throughout the historic range. This species is listed as Threatened by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and is classified by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a candidate species for listing as Threatened or Endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Concerns about the conservation status of P. ruthveni have resulted in increasing attention to the ecology of this previously little known species. It has been hypothesized that habitat for this species is, or was, maintained by a fire regime characterized by frequent, low intensity ground fires, and that alteration of the pre-European fire regime resulted in landscape level declines in suitable habitat. Specifically, suppression of herbaceous vegetation, leading to declines in Baird's pocket gopher (Geomys breviceps) populations, the primary prey of P. ruthveni, was hypothesized to result in decline and extirpation of P. ruthveni populations. Little is known about the ecology of the Louisiana Pine Snake. Better understanding of home range parameters should assist those involved in the conservation or management of Louisiana Pine Snakes as they develop management and recovery strategies and make decisions concerning the size of landscapes necessary to maintain viable populations.


M.S. in Biology
Stephen F. Austin State University
B.S. in Biology
Stephen F. Austin State University

Professional Organizations

  • Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, Member (2005—Current)

Featured Publications and Products


Research Highlights

Defining the Louisiana Pine Snake Breeding Season (2016)
SRS-2016-74 Forest Service conservation efforts for the Louisiana pine snake, a rare and secretive snake of fire-maintained pine forests, include a captive breeding program. Snakes released for the restoration effort are hatched and raised in zoos, and are the offspring of Louisiana pine snakes captured from the wild. Making the best of the program requires knowing the timing of natural reproduction.

R&D Affiliations
Research Topics
Experimental Forests and Ranges
External Resources