Dr. Hopkins is a Professor in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation in the College of Natural Resources and Environment at Virginia Tech.  He is also the Director of the Global Change Center at Virginia Tech (The Fralin Life Science Institute).  He holds additional Adjunct Professor appointments with the University of Georgia’s Odum School of Ecology and the College of Pharmacy’s Interdisciplinary Toxicology Program where he is also a member of the UGA Graduate Faculty.

Dr. Hopkins’ research focuses on physiological ecology and wildlife ecotoxicology, addressing pressing questions in both basic and applied science. To date, he has published more than 165 peer-reviewed manuscripts and book chapters on subjects pertaining to environmental stressors, pollution, and the physiological ecology of amphibians, reptiles, birds, and bats.  His work is heavily cited in the scientific literature and he frequently provides input on important environmental issues to the media (e.g., 60 minutes, NPR, etc.) and to decision makers in Richmond, VA and Washington D.C.

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, and tradeoffs between, different physiological systems (e.g., the bioenergetics of endocrine, thermoregulatory, and immune interactions).  He is also keenly interested in parental effects and how parental physiology and behavioral decisions may influence a parent’s fitness and the fitness of his/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, amphibians, and reptiles). He focuses on sublethal endpoints of toxicity including changes in endocrine physiology, energy allocation, immunology, 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 ecotoxicological 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 is an award-winning undergraduate teacher and 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 three National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council Committees dealing with water resource and energy issues. 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. In 2015, he received Virginia Tech’s Alumni Award for Excellence in Research. Dr. Hopkins’ professional affiliations include The Society for Integrative and Comparative Biologists, The American Ornithological Union, The American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, The Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, The Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, and Sigma Xi.

He has been a key scientific contributor to five of the U.S. Department of Interior’s Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration (NRDAR) cases, including those surrounding the B.P. oil spill, the T.V.A. ash spill (Kingston, TN), the Olin Superfund site (Saltville, VA), the South River mercury spill (Waynesboro, VA), and the Los Alamos National Lab in New Mexico. In all five NRDAR cases, he has worked effectively with multiple stakeholder groups, including industry, state government, federal government, local concerned citizens, NGOs, private consultants, and other academic institutions. His contributions to these damage assessments have proven vital towards understanding the physiological and reproductive responses of diverse organisms to the contaminants of interest, and have provided scaling from individual-level responses to population- and metapopulation-level changes.  In his long-running contributions to the South River case, he now currently works alongside the Dept. of the Interior and Industry to develop practical, science-based restoration strategies and long-term monitoring plans based on the science his team provided during their ecological damage assessment.

WAHopkins CV           Email
(July 2016)

Recent Publications


Hope, S.F., Kennamer, R.A., van Montfrans, S.G., and Hopkins, W.A. 2019. Incubation temperature and social context affect nest exodus performance of precocial ducklings. Behavioral Ecology30: 518-527. doi:10.1093/beheco/ary192.



Hope, S.F., Beunaventura, C., Husain, Z., DuRant, S.E., Kennamer, R.E., Hopkins, W.A., and Thompson, C.K. 2018. Effects of incubation temperature on thyroid hormone and corticosterone related gene expression in the developing brain of a precocial bird. Frontiers in Physiology. INVITED FOR SPECIAL ISSUE: – developmental programing of vertebrate health and disease.

Connock, J.U, Case, B.G, Button, S.G, Groffen, J., Galligan, T.M.P, and Hopkins, W.A.In Press. Detection of hellbenders (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis) occupying nest boxes using remote passive integrated transponder (PIT) tag scanning technology. Herpetological Conservation and Biology.

Whitmore, K.M., Schoenholtz, S.H., Soucek, D.J., Hopkins, W.A., and Zipper C.E. 2018. Selenium dynamics in headwater streams of the central Appalachian coalfield. Environ Toxicol Chem, 37(10), 2714-2726. doi:10.1002/etc.4245

Eagles-Smith, C.A., E. K. Silbergeld, N. Basu, P. Bustamante, F. Diaz-Barriga, W.A. Hopkins, K.A. Kidd, J.F. Nyland. 2018. Modulators of mercury risk to wildlife and humans in the context of rapid global change. Ambio. 47(2),170-197. INVITED REVIEW AND INTERNATIONAL PLENARY PANEL.

Jachowski, C.M.B., and W.A. Hopkins. 2018. Demography of the hellbender, Cryptobranchus alleganiensis, along a land use gradient: Implications for monitoring and conservation of long-lived species. Biological Conservation. 220, 215-227.

Thompson, M.M., B.H. Coe, R.M. Andrews, D.A. Cristol, D.A. Crossley II, and W.A. Hopkins. 2018. Agricultural land use creates evolutionary traps for nesting turtles and is exacerbated by mercury pollution. Journal of Experimental Zoology: Part A. INVITED FOR SPECIAL ISSUE: Reptile Developmental Plasticity. 329(4-5), 230-243.

Thompson M.M., B.H. Coe, R.M.Andrews, D.F.Stauffer, D.A.Cristol, D.A.Crossley II, W.A. Hopkins. 2018. Major global changes interact to cause male-biased sex ratios in a reptile with temperature-dependent sex determination. Biological Conservation.

S.F. Hope, S.E. DuRant, J.J. Hallagan, M.L. Beck, R.A. Kennamer, W.A. Hopkins. In Press. Free-moving artificial eggs containing temperature loggers reveal remarkable within-clutch variance in incubation temperature. Journal of Avian Biology.


Eagles-Smith, C.A., Silbergeld, E.K., Basu, N., Bustamante, P., Diaz-Barriga, F., Hopkins, W.A., Kidd, K.A., Nyland, J.F. 2017. Modulators of mercury risk to wildlife and humans in the context of rapid global change. Ambio. INVITED REVIEW AND INTERNATIONAL PLENARY PANEL

Jachowski, C.M.B. and W. A. Hopkins. 2017. Demography of the hellbender, Cryptobranchus alleganiensis, along a land use gradient: Implications for monitoring and conservation of long-lived species. Biological Conservation.

Thompson, M.M., B.H. Coe, R.M. Andrews, D.A. Cristol, D.A. Crossley, W.A. Hopkins. 2017. Adding Insult to Injury: Agricultural land use creates evolutionary traps for nesting turtles and is exacerbated by mercury pollution. Journal of Experimental Zool  INVITED FOR SPECIAL ISSUE: Reptile Developmental Plasticity.

Fallon, J.A., Smith, E.P., Schoch, N., Paruk, J. D., Adams, E. A., Evers, D. C., Jodice, P. G.R., Perkins, C., Schulte, S. and Hopkins, W. A. 2017. Hematological indices of injury to lightly oiled birds from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Environ Toxicol Chem. doi:10.1002/etc.3983. FEATURED AS HIGHLIGHT ARTICLE BY JOURNAL

Chin, S.Y., W.A. Hopkins, D.A Cristol. 2017. Mercury alters initiation and construction of nests by zebra finches, but not incubation or provisioning behaviors.  Ecotoxicology 26:1271-1283.

Handler L., M.S. Painter, B.H. Coe, P.W. Youmans, W.A. Hopkins, and J.B. Phillips. 2017. High levels of maternally transferred mercury disrupt magnetic responses of snapping turtle hatchlings (Chelydra serpentina). Environ Pollution. 11: 228:19-25.

Thompson, M.T., B.H. Coe, J.D. Congdon, D.F. Stauffer, W.A. Hopkins. 2017. Nesting ecology and habitat use of Chelydra serpentina in an area modified by agricultural and industrial activity. Herpetological Conservation and Biology 12:292-306.

Van Dyke, J., C.M.B. Jachowski, D. Steen, B. Jackson, and W. A. Hopkins. 2017. Spatial differences in trace element bioaccumulation in turtles exposed to a partially remediated coal fly-ash spill. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. 36:201-211.


Jachowski, C.M.B, Millspaugh, J.J. , and Hopkins, W.A. in press. Current land use is a poor predictor of hellbender occurrence: Why assumptions matter when predicting distributions of data deficient species. Diversity and Distributions.

Coe, B.H.Drewett, D.V., and Jachowski, C. M.B. 2016. Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis (Eastern Hellbender). Terrestrial Movement. Herpetological Review 47(1): 99-­‐100.

Hopkins, W.A., Fallon, J.A., Beck M, Coe BH, and Jachowski C.M.B. 2016. Haematological and immunological characteristics of eastern hellbenders (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis) infected and co-­‐infected with endo-­‐ and ectoparasites. Conservation Physiology. 4: doi:10.1093/conphys/cow002

Steen, D. A.*P, Van Dyke, J. U. *P, Dziadzio, M. C., Parker, T. D., Vogel, H. J., Webb, K. Q., and Hopkins W. A. Kinosternon subrubrum (Eastern Mud Turtle). Geographic Distribution. Herpetological Review: in press.


Hepp, GR, SE DuRant, and WA Hopkins. 2015. Influence of incubation temperature on offspring phenotype and fitness in birds.  In: Nests and Eggs: Incubating New Ideas about Avian Reproduction, D.C. Deeming and S.J. Reynolds (eds).  Oxford University Press.

DuRant, S.E.Hopkins, W.A., Davis, A.K., and Romero, L.M. 2015. Evidence of ectoparasite-induced endocrine disruption in an imperiled giant salamander, the eastern hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis). Journal of Experimental Biology 218:2297-304.

Landler L. Painter, M.S., Youmans, Hopkins, W.A. and Phillips, J.B. 2015. Spontaneous magnetic alignment by yearling snapping turtles: rapid association of radio frequency dependent pattern of magnetic input with novel surroundings. PLOS ONE DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0124728.

Beck, M.L., HopkinsW.A. , Jackson, B.P, and Hawley, D.M. 2015. The effects of a remediated fly ash spill and weather conditions on reproductive success and offspring development in tree swallows. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 187:119.

Steen, D.A.Van Dyke, J.U. , Jackson, B.P., and Hopkins, W.A., 2015. Reproduction and hatchling performance in freshwater turtles associated with a remediated coal fly-ash spill. Environmental Research 138: 38 – 48.

Coe, B.H., Beck, M.L.Chin, S.Y.Jachowski, C.B. and Hopkins, W.A., 2015. Local variation in weather conditions influences incubation behavior and temperature in a passerine bird. Journal of Avian Biology 46: 1-10.


Carter, A.W., Hopkins, W.A. Moore, I.T., and DuRant, S.E., 2014. Influence of incubation recess patterns on incubation period and hatchling traits in wood ducks (Aix sponsa). Journal of Avian Biology 45(3) 273-279.

Van Dyke, J.U., Steen, D.A., Jackson, B.P., and Hopkins, W.A., 2014. Maternal transfer and embryonic assimilation of trace elements in freshwater turtles after remediation of a coal fly-ash spill. Environmental Pollution 194:38-49

Hopkins, W.A., Moser, W.E., Garst, D.W., Richardson, D.J., Hammond, C.I. and Lazo-Wasem, E.A., 2014. Morphological and molecular characterization of a new species of leech (Glossiphoniidae, Hirudinida): Implications for the health of its imperiled amphibian host (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis). ZooKeys 378: 83–101. **COVER PHOTO

Beck M.L., Hopkins, W.A., Hallagan, J.J., Jackson, B.P., and Hawley, D.M., 2014. Exposure to residual concentrations of elements from a remediated coal fly ash spill does not adversely influence stress and immune responses of nestling tree swallows. Conservation Physiology 2: doi:10.1093/conphys/cou018.

Steen, D.A., Hopkins, B.C., Van Dyke, J.U., and Hopkins, W.A., 2014. Prevalence of Ingested Fish Hooks in Freshwater Turtles from Five Rivers in the Southeastern United States. PLoS ONE 9:e91368.

S. E. DuRantA. 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.

Eskew, E.A., B.Todd, W.A.Hopkins.  2014. Extremely low prevalence of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis infection in Eastern Hellbenders (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis) in southwest Virginia, USA.  Herpetological Review 45:425-427.

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