Select Page

M. Elsbeth McPhee Ph.D.


Associate Prof Environmental Studies and Biology      

3448 Sage Hall
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Oshkosh, WI 54901

Phone: 920-424-0644


Click to view my calendar and CV.

My research


Long-term maintenance of captive populations, and release of captive animals into the wild, is one of many approaches to endangered species conservation. For conservation biologists working with captive populations, however, a fundamental question is: How has captivity altered the behavior, morphology,WC 3 and physiology of captive-bred animals? Broadly, I am interested in how populations respond to rapid changes in their environment. Specifically, I have focused on this question of how animals respond when they are brought into captivity and when, generations later, captive-bred individuals are released back into the wild. Altered selective pressures and increased stress levels are often associated with novel captive environments thus potentially changing the expression and distribution of behavioral, physiological, and morphological traits. Such changes can have profound effects on the success of conservation programs that use captive-bred animals.  Currently, I am working with the reintroduction of whooping cranes into central Wisconsin to establish an Eastern Migratory Population of these endangered birds.  I am working with the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center (the largest captive breeding population in the world of whooping cranes), International Crane Foundation, US Fish and Wildlife Service’s

Dr Misty with chick

Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, Operation Migration, the WI Department of Natural Resources, and others.  I and all collaborators are members of the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership whose goal it is to establish a migratory population east of the Mississippi River.


For a short video on my work, go to

vole crew after release on 17 Aug 2011

Korin's vole-in-a-jar

Vole crew after big release on 17 Aug 2011



Introduction to Environmental Issues (ES 101)

Environmental Science (ES 260)

Principles of Wildlife Management (ES/Bio 314/514)

Wildlife Behavior and Conservation (ES/Bio 318/518)

Science of Sustainable Food (ES 312)

Approaches to Resource Management in Tropical Ecosystems in Belize (ES 396)

Environmental Studies Senior Seminar (ES 490)