Dr. Hopkins’ research program at Virginia Tech focuses on physiological ecology and wildlife ecotoxicology, addressing pressing questions in both basic and applied science.
From a basic science perspective, Dr. Hopkins is currently interested in the energy costs of various physiological and behavioral processes. He is particularly intrigued by problems that involve the interplay of different physiological systems (e.g., the endocrine and immune systems).
Current work in Dr. Hopkins’ laboratory examines the bioenergetics of various processes including digesting various prey types, development under variable incubation conditions, mounting an immune response, and enduring parasitic infections. He is also interested in maternal effects and how maternal behavioral decisions may influence a mother’s fitness and the fitness of her offspring.
From an applied perspective, Dr. Hopkins’ primary goal is to understand how anthropogenic disturbances alter the ability of fish and wildlife to interact appropriately with their environment. He is interested in the movement of contaminants through communities via trophic mechanisms, with most emphasis placed on chronic dietary uptake of bioaccumulative contaminants by high trophic level predators (e.g., birds and snakes). He focuses on sublethal endpoints of toxicity including changes in endocrine physiology, energy allocation, reproductive success, and measures of performance. He is particularly interested in maternal transfer of teratogenic compounds and resulting effects on developing offspring. In all of his studies, Dr. Hopkins is devoted to developing minimally invasive sampling techniques to estimate exposure and effects, and he has published a wide array of papers dealing with the importance of these approaches in applied ecology.
Dr. Hopkins’ previous research experience at the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, Mercer University’s Medical School, Auburn University, and the University of South Carolina includes quantification of diverse physiological responses of invertebrates and vertebrates to natural and anthropogenic stressors. Currently, he is an Associate Professor in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Virginia Tech and the Program Director of the Interfaces of Global Change interdisciplinary graduate education program. He holds additional adjunct associate professor appointments with the University of Georgia’s Institute of Ecology and the College of Pharmacy’s Interdisciplinary Toxicology Program, as well as the University of South Carolina’s Department of Biological Sciences. To date, Dr. Hopkins has published more than 145 peer-reviewed manuscripts and book chapters on subjects pertaining to environmental stress and pollution, as well as additional peer-reviewed works on the physiological ecology of amphibians, reptiles, and bats.
Hopkins serves (or previously served) on the editorial boards of three journals, as a toxicologist on the Scientific Advisory Board for the International Center for Birds of Prey, and as a member of the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Minefilling Power Plant Wastes. He has also served in advisory capacities at the local, state, national and international level on issues pertaining to waste management, ecological sustainability, and the global decline of amphibians. Dr. Hopkins’ professional affiliations include The Wildlife Society, Society for Integrative and Comparative Biologists, American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, and Sigma Xi.
Courses Taught at Virginia Tech
FiW 5334 Vertebrate Physiological Ecology
FiW 2314 Wildlife Biology
FiW 3954 Tropical Ecology I
FiW 3954 Tropical Ecology II
Names in bold are current or past members of the Hopkins Lab.
S. E. DuRant, A. W. Carter, R. J. Denver, G. R. Hepp, and W. A. Hopkins. 2014. Are thyroid hormones mediators of incubation temperature-induced phenotypes in birds? Biol Lett 2014 10: 20130950.
Moser, W.E., J.T. Briggler, D.J. Richardson, C.D. Schuette, C.I. Hammond, W.A. Hopkins, and E.A. Lazo-Wasem. 2013. Redescription and Molecular Characterization of Placobdella cryptobranchii (Johnson and Klemm, 1977) (Glossiphoniidae: Hirudinida). ZooKeys 338:1-10.
Adelman, J.S., A.W. Carter, W.A. Hopkins, and D.M. Hawley. In press. Deposition of pathogenic Mycoplasma gallisepticum onto bird feeders: host pathology is more important than temperature-driven increases in food intake. Biology Letters.
Van Dyke, J.U., W.A. Hopkins, and B.P. Jackson. 2013. Influence of relative trophic position and carbon source on selenium bioaccumulation in turtles from a coal fly-ash spill site. Environmental Pollution 182:45-52.
Beck, M. L., Hopkins,W.A., and Jackson, B.P. 2013. Spatial and Temporal Variation in the Diet of Tree Swallows: Implications for Trace Element Exposure after Habitat Remediation. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology. DOI: 10.1007/s00244-013-9913-5
DuRant, S.E., W.A. Hopkins, A. F. Wilson*, C. M. Stachowiak*, and G.R. Hepp. In Press. Incubation conditions are more important in determining early thermoregulatory ability than post hatch resource conditions in a precocial bird. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology.
Carter, A. W., S.E. DuRant, G.R. Hepp, W.A. Hopkins. In press. Thermal challenge severity differentially influences wound healing in wood duck (Aix sponsa) ducklings. Journal of Experimental Zoology: Part A.
Hopkins, B.C., Chin, S.Y., Willson, J.D., and Hopkins, W.A. 2013. Like mother, like offspring: Maternal and offspring wound healing correlate in snakes. Journal of Experimental Biology 216:2545-2547.
Hopkins, B.C., Hepner, M.J., and Hopkins, W. A. 2013. Nondestructive techniques for biomonitoring of spatial, temporal, and demographic patterns of mercury bioaccumulation and maternal transfer in turtles. Environmental Pollution 177:164-170.
Hopkins, B.C., Willson, J.D., and Hopkins, W.A. 2013. Mercury exposure is associated with negative effects on turtle reproduction. Environmental Science & Technology 47:2416-2422.
Drewett, D.V.V., Willson J.D., Cristol D.A., Chin S.Y., and Hopkins, W.A. 2013. Inter- and intra-specific variation in mercury bioaccumulation by snakes inhabiting a contaminated river floodplain. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 32:1178-1186.
Metts, B., Buhlmann, K., Tuberville, T., Scott, D., Hopkins, W. 2013. Maternal transfer of contaminants and reduced reproductive success of southern toads (Bufo [Anaxyrus] terrestris) exposed to coal combustion waste. Environmental Science & Technology 47: 2846-2853.
Melnyk, K., Gelis, R.A., Hopkins, W. A., Vaca, F. and Moore, I.T. 2013. Gray-bellied hawk (Accipiter poliogaster) observed feeding on a tinamou in Yasuni Biospere Reserve, Ecuador. Journal of Raptor Research 47:330-332.
DuRant, S. E., W. A. Hopkins, J. R. Walters, and G. R. Hepp. 2013. Ecological, evolutionary, and conservation implications of incubation temperature-dependent phenotypes in birds. Biological Reviews 88:499-509.
Willson, J. D., and W.A. Hopkins. 2013. Evaluating the Effects of Anthropogenic Stressors on Source-Sink Dynamics in Pond-Breeding Amphibians. Conservation Biology 27:595-604.
Fallon, J.A, Fox, L., Hopkins, W.A. 2013. A practical quantification method for Heinz bodies in birds applicable to rapid response field scenarios. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 32: 401-405.
DuRant, S. E., Hopkins, W. A., Hepp, G. R. and L. M. Romero. 2013. Energetic constraints and parental care: is corticosterone indicative of energetic costs of incubation in a precocial bird? Hormones and Behavior 63: 385-391.
Hopkins, W.A., Bodinof, C., Budischak, S. , and Perkins, C. 2013. Nondestructive indices of mercury exposure in three species of turtles occupying different trophic niches downstream from a former chloralkali facility. Ecotoxicology 22:22-32.
Orlofske, S.A., Belden, L.K., Hopkins, W.A. 2013. Larval wood frog (Rana [=Lithobates] sylvatica) development and physiology following infection with the trematode parasite, Echinostoma trivolvis. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology, Part A 164:529-536.
Chin, S.Y., J.D. Willson, D.A. Cristol, D.V.V. Drewett, and W.A. Hopkins. 2013. Altered behavior of neonatal northern watersnakes (Nerodia sipedon) exposed to maternally transferred mercury. Environmental Pollution 176:144-150.
Chin, S.Y., J.D. Willson, D.A. Cristol, D.V.V. Drewett, and W.A. Hopkins. 2013. High levels of maternally transferred mercury do not affect reproductive output or embryonic survival of northern watersnakes (Nerodia sipedon). Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 32:619-626.
Davis, A.K., W.A. Hopkins. 2013. Widespread trypanosome infections in a population of eastern hellbenders (Chyptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis) in Virginia, USA. Parasitology Research 112:453-456.
Willson, J. D., W. A. Hopkins, C. M. Bergeron, and B. D. Todd. 2012. Making leaps in amphibian ecotoxicology: translating individual-level effects of environmental contaminants to population viability. Ecological Applications 22(6):1791-1802.
Hawley, D., DuRant, S., Wilson, A., Adelman, J., Hopkins, W. 2012. Additive metabolic costs of thermoregulation and pathogen infection. Functional Ecology 26:701-710.
Wack, C. L., DuRant, S.E., Hopkins, W.A., Lovern, M.B., Feldhoff, R.C., and Woodley, S.K. 2012. Elevated plasma corticosterone increases metabolic rate in a terrestrial salamander. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology-A 161:153-158.
Todd, B., Bergeron, C.M., Hopkins, W.A. 2012. Use of toe clips as a nonlethal index of mercury accumulation and maternal transfer in amphibians. Ecotoxicology 21:882-887.
Todd, B.D., Willson, J.D., Bergeron, C.M., Hopkins, W.A. 2012. Do effects of mercury in larval amphibians persist after metamorphosis? Ecotoxicolgy 21:87-95.
Bryan, A.L., Hopkins, W.A., Parikh, J.H., Jackson, B.P., Unrine, J.M. 2012. Coal Fly Ash Basins as an Attractive Nuisance to Birds: Parental Provisioning Exposes Nestlings to Harmful Trace Elements. Environmental Pollution 161:170-177.
Metts, B.S., Buhlmann, K.A., Scott, D.E., Tuberville, T.D., Hopkins, W.A. 2012. Interactive effects of maternal and environmental exposure to coal combustion wastes decrease survival of larval southern toads (Bufo terrestris). Environmental Pollution 164:211-218.
DuRant, S.E., Hopkins, W.A., Wilson, A.F., Hepp, G.R. 2012. Incubation temperature affects the metabolic cost of thermoregulation in a young precocial bird. Functional Ecology 26:416-422.
Salice, C.J., Rowe, C.L., Pechmann, J.H.K. and Hopkins, W.A. 2011. Multiple stressors and complex life cycles: insights from a population‐level assessment of breeding site contamination and terrestrial habitat loss in an amphibian. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 30:2874-2882.
Hopkins, W.A., DuRant, S.E. 2011. Innate immunity and stress physiology of eastern hellbenders (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis) from two stream reaches with differing habitat quality. General and Comparative Endocrinology 174:107-115.
Todd, B.D., Bergeron, C.M., Hepner, M.J., and Hopkins, W.A. 2011. Aquatic and terrestrial stressors in amphibians: a test of the double jeopardy hypothesis based on maternally and trophically derived contaminants. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 30:2277-2284.
Wada, W., Bergeron, C.M., McNabb, A.F.M., Todd, B.D., and Hopkins, W.A. 2011. Dietary mercury has no observable effects on thyroid-mediated processes and fitness-related traits in wood frogs. Environmental Science and Technology 45:7915-7922.
DuRant, S. E., Hopkins, W.A, Hawley, D.M., and Hepp, G.R. 2011. Incubation temperature affects multiple measures of immunocompetence in young wood ducks (Aix Sponsa). Biology Letters, 24 August 2011, doi:10.1098/rsbl.2011.0735.
Bergeron, C. M., Hopkins, W. A., Bodinof, C. M., Budischak, S. A., Wada, H. and Unrine, J. M., 2011. Counterbalancing effects of maternal mercury exposure during different stages of early ontogeny. Science of the Total Environment: 409:4746-4752.
DuRant, S.E, Hopkins, W.A., and Hepp, G.R. 2011. Energy expenditure of developing wood duck (Aix sponsa)embryos is related to incubation temperature. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology 84:451-457.
Bergeron, C.M., Hopkins, W.A., Todd, B.D., Hepner, M.J., and Unrine, J.M. 2011. Interactive effects of maternal and dietary mercury exposure have latent and lethal consequences for amphibian larvae. Environmental Science and Technology 45:3781-3787.
Hopkins, B.C, DuRant S.E., Hepp, G.R., and W.A. Hopkins. 2011. Incubation temperature influences locomotor performance in young wood ducks (Aix sponsa). Journal of Experimental Zoology Part A: Ecological Genetics and Physiology 315:274-279.
Todd, B.T., Bergeron, C.M., Hepner, M.J., Burke, J.N., Hopkins, W.A. 2011. Does maternal exposure to an environmental stressor affect offspring response to predators? Oecologia 166:283-290.
Willson, J.D. and Hopkins, W.A. 2011. Prey morphology constrains the feeding ecology of an aquatic generalist predator. Ecology 92:744-754.