Our People

Joe Kiesecker

Lead Scientist, Land and Water

Fort Collins, Colorado

Headshot of Joe Kiesecker.

Joe Kiesecker Senior Scientist for Global Lands, The Nature Conservancy © TNC


Development by Design, Energy Siting and Mitigation, Climate Change, Human and Wildlife Disease




Joseph Kiesecker is a Lead Scientist for The Nature Conservancy’s Conservation Lands Team. In this capacity his main responsibilities include developing new tools, methods, and techniques that improve conservation. He pioneered the Conservancy’s Development by Design strategy, to improve impact mitigation through the incorporation of predictive modeling to provide solutions that benefits conservation goals and development. He also conducts his own research in areas ranging from disease ecology, to the effectiveness of new conservation tools such as conservation easements.

His training was in ecology, conservation biology and animal behavior, with a Ph.D. from Oregon State University in 1997. He has held faculty appointments at Yale University, Penn State University and currently holds a faculty appointment at the University of Wyoming. He has been a Donnelly Fellow, and has received funding for his research from National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the IUCN and numerous private foundations. Kiesecker has published over 100 articles, on topics ranging from climate change to the effectiveness of conservation strategies; examples of his work have been published in Nature, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Conservation Biology, Ecology and American Scientist.

His past work has focused primarily on the conservation and ecology of freshwater systems. In particular, he has been interested in the global amphibian decline phenomenon. This line of research has involved investigating how perturbations resulting from climate change and land use changes can stress organisms, making them more susceptible to disease. He began his job with the Conservancy in 2004 with the challenge of putting years of classroom teaching and academic research into conservation practice in the real world. 

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Visit Joe's Google Scholar Profile for a full list of publications.

Development by Design

Griscom, B.W., Adams, J., Ellis, P.W., Houghton, R.A., Lomax, G., Miteva, D.A., Schlesinger, W.H., Shoch, D., Siikamäki, J.V., Smith, P., Woodbury, P., Zganjar, C., Blackman, A., Campari, J., Conant, R.T., Delgado, C., Elias, P., Gopalakrishna, T., Hamsik, M.R., Herrero, M., Kiesecker, J., Landis, E., Laestadius, L., Leavitt, S.M., Minnemeyer, S., Polasky, S., Potapov, P., Putz, F.E., Sanderman, J., Silvius, M., Wollenberg, E. & Fargione, J. (2017). Natural climate solutions. PNAS, 201710465.

Kennedy, C.M., Hawthorne, P.L., Sochi, K., Miteva, D.A., Baumgarten, L., Uhlhorn, E.M. & Kiesecker, J.M. (2017). Biofuels Expansion and Environmental Quality in Brazil. In: Energy Sprawl Solutions. Island Press, Washington, DC, pp. 100–111.

Kiesecker, J.M., Evans, J.S., Sochi, K., Fargione, J., Naugle, D. & Doherty, K. (2017). Win-Win for Wind and Wildlife. In: Energy Sprawl Solutions. Island Press, Washington, DC, pp. 52–64.

Kiesecker, J.M. & Naugle, D.E. (2017). Energy Sprawl Solutions: Balancing Global Development and Conservation. Island Press.

Klein, E., Cardenas, J.J., Martínez, R., González, J.C., Papadakis, J., Sochi, K. & Kiesecker, J.M. (2017). Planning for Offshore Oil. In: Energy Sprawl Solutions. Island Press, Washington, DC, pp. 76–87.

Oakleaf, J., Kennedy, C.M., Baruch-Mordo, S. & Kiesecker, J.M. (2017). Geography of Risk. In: Energy Sprawl Solutions. Island Press, Washington, DC, pp. 7–19.

Oakleaf, J.R., Matsumoto, M., Kennedy, C.M., Baumgarten, L., Miteva, D., Sochi, K. & Kiesecker, J. (2017). LegalGEO: Conservation tool to guide the siting of legal reserves under the Brazilian Forest Code. Applied Geography, 86, 53–65.

Kennedy, C.M., Hawthorne, P.L., Miteva, D.A., Baumgarten, L., Sochi, K., Matsumoto, M., Evans, J.S., Polasky, S., Hamel, P., Vieira, E.M., Develey, P.F., Sekercioglu, C.H., Davidson, A.D., Uhlhorn, E.M. & Kiesecker, J. (2016). Optimizing land use decision-making to sustain Brazilian agricultural profits, biodiversity and ecosystem services. Biological Conservation, 204, 221–230.

Kennedy, C.M., Miteva, D.A., Baumgarten, L., Hawthorne, P.L., Sochi, K., Polasky, S., Oakleaf, J.R., Uhlhorn, E.M. & Kiesecker, J. (2016). Bigger is better: improved nature conservation and economic returns from landscape-level mitigation. Science Advances, 2, e1501021.

Smith, J.T., Evans, J.S., Martin, B.H., Baruch-Mordo, S., Kiesecker, J.M. & Naugle, D.E. (2016). Reducing cultivation risk for at-risk species: predicting outcomes of conservation easements for sage-grouse. Biological Conservation, 201, 10–19.

Tallis, H., Kennedy, C.M., Ruckelshaus, M., Goldstein, J. & Kiesecker, J.M. (2016). Mitigation for the people: an ecosystem services framework. In: Handbook on biodiversity and ecosystem services in impact assessment (ed. Geneletti, D.). Edward Elgar Publishing, Cheltenham, UK, pp. 397–427.

Sochi, K. & Kiesecker, J. (2016). Optimizing regulatory requirements to aid in the implementation of compensatory mitigation. Journal of Applied Ecology, 53, 317–322.

Heiner, M., Oakleaf, J.R., Davaa, G., Yunden, B. & Kiesecker, J. (2016). Emerging threats to snow leopards from energy and mineral development. In: Snow leopards: biodiversity of the world: conservation from genes to landscapes. Elsevier Science, Amsterdam, pp. 116–122.


Oakleaf, J.R., Kennedy, C.M., Baruch-Mordo, S., West, P.C., Gerber, J.S., Jarvis, L. & Kiesecker, J. (2015). A world at risk: aggregating development trends to forecast global habitat conversion. PLoS ONE, 10, e0138334.

Kiesecker, J.M., McKenney, B. & Kareiva, P. (2015). Offsets: factor failure into protected areas. Nature, 525, 33–33.

Mandle, L., Bryant, B.P., Ruckelshaus, M., Geneletti, D., Kiesecker, J.M. & Pfaff, A. (2015). Entry points for considering ecosystem services within infrastructure planning: how to integrate conservation with development in order to aid them both. Conservation Letters, doi: 10.1111/conl.12201

Tallis, H., Kennedy, C.M., Ruckelshaus, M., Goldstein, J. & Kiesecker, J.M. (2015). Mitigation for one & all: an integrated framework for mitigation of development impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem services. Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 55, 21–34.

Fitzsimons, J., Heiner, M., McKenney, B., Sochi, K. & Kiesecker, J. (2014). Development by Design in Western Australia: overcoming offset obstacles. Land, 3, 167–187.

Villarroya, A., Barros, A.C. & Kiesecker, J. (2014). Policy development for environmental licensing and biodiversity offsets in Latin America. PLoS ONE, 9, e107144.

Baruch-Mordo, S., Evans, J.S., Severson, J.P., Naugle, D.E., Maestas, J.D., Kiesecker, J.M., Falkowski, M.J., Hagen, C.A. & Reese, K.P. (2013). Saving sage-grouse from the trees: a proactive solution to reducing a key threat to a candidate species. Biological Conservation, 167, 233–241.

Oakleaf, J.R., Kennedy, C.M., Boucher, T. & Kiesecker, J. (2013). Tailoring global data to guide corporate investments in biodiversity, environmental assessments and sustainability. Sustainability, 5, 4444–4460.

Saenz, S., Walschburger, T., González, J.C., León, J., McKenney, B. & Kiesecker, J. (2013). Development by Design in Colombia: making mitigation decisions consistent with conservation outcomes. PLoS ONE, 8, e81831.

Saenz, S., Walschburger, T., González, J.C., León, J., McKenney, B. & Kiesecker, J. (2013). A framework for implementing and valuing biodiversity offsets in Colombia: a landscape scale perspective. Sustainability, 5, 4961–4987.

Kiesecker, J.M., Sochi, K., Heiner, M., McKenney, B., Evans, J. & Copeland, H. (2013). Development by Design: using a revisionist history to guide a sustainable future. In: Encyclopedia of biodiversity (ed. Levin, S.). Academic Press, Waltham, pp. 495–507.

Copeland, H.E., Doherty, K.E., Naugle, D.E., Pocewicz, A. & Kiesecker, J.M. (2011). Forecasting energy development scenarios to aid in conservation design. In: Energy development and wildlife conservation in western North America (ed. Naugle, D.E.). Island Press/Center for Resource Economics, pp. 183–193.

Copeland, H.E., Pocewicz, A. & Kiesecker, J.M. (2011). Geography of energy development in western North America: potential impacts on terrestrial ecosystems. In: Energy development and wildlife conservation in western North America (ed. Naugle, D.E.). Island Press/Center for Resource Economics, pp. 7–22.

Kiesecker, J.M., Copeland, H.E., McKenney, B.A., Pocewicz, A. & Doherty, K.E. (2011). Energy by Design: making mitigation work for conservation and development. In: Energy development and wildlife conservation in western North America (ed. Naugle, D.E.). Island Press/Center for Resource Economics, pp. 159–181.

Obermeyer, B., Manes, R., Kiesecker, J., Fargione, J. & Sochi, K. (2011). Development by Design: mitigating wind development’s impacts on wildlife in Kansas. PLoS ONE, 6, e26698.

Kiesecker, J.M., Copeland, H., Pocewicz, A. & McKenney, B. (2010). Development by Design: blending landscape-level planning with the mitigation hierarchy. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 8, 261–266.

Kiesecker, J.M., Copeland, H., Pocewicz, A., Nibbelink, N., McKenney, B., Dahlke, J., Holloran, M. & Stroud, D. (2009). A framework for implementing biodiversity offsets: selecting sites and determining scale. BioScience, 59, 77–84.


Maloney, K.O., Baruch-Mordo, S., Patterson, L.A., Nicot, J.-P., Entrekin, S.A., Fargione, J.E., Kiesecker, J.M., Konschnik, K.E., Ryan, J.N., Trainor, A.M., Saiers, J.E. & Wiseman, H.J. (2017). Unconventional oil and gas spills: Materials, volumes, and risks to surface waters in four states of the U.S. Science of The Total Environment, 581–582, 369–377.


Patterson, L.A., Konschnik, K.E., Wiseman, H., Fargione, J., Maloney, K.O., Kiesecker, J., Nicot, J.-P., Baruch-Mordo, S., Entrekin, S., Trainor, A. & Saiers, J.E. (2017). Unconventional Oil and Gas Spills: Risks, Mitigation Priorities, and State Reporting Requirements. Environ. Sci. Technol.

Jones, N.F., Pejchar, L. & Kiesecker, J.M. (2015). The energy footprint: how oil, natural gas, and wind energy affect land for biodiversity and the flow of ecosystem services. BioScience, 65, 290–301.

Evans, J.S. & Kiesecker, J.M. (2014). Shale gas, wind and water: assessing the potential cumulative impacts of energy development on ecosystem services within the Marcellus Play. PLoS ONE, 9, e89210.

Fargione, J., Kiesecker, J., Slaats, M.J. & Olimb, S. (2012). Wind and wildlife in the Northern Great Plains: identifying low-impact areas for wind development. PLoS ONE, 7, e41468.

Kiesecker, J.M., Evans, J.S., Fargione, J., Doherty, K., Foresman, K.R., Kunz, T.H., Naugle, D., Nibbelink, N.P. & Niemuth, N.D. (2011). Win-win for wind and wildlife: a vision to facilitate sustainable development. PLoS ONE, 6, e17566.

Copeland, H.E., Doherty, K.E., Naugle, D.E., Pocewicz, A. & Kiesecker, J.M. (2009). Mapping oil and gas development potential in the US Intermountain West and estimating impacts to species. PLoS ONE, 4, e7400.

McDonald, R.I., Fargione, J., Kiesecker, J., Miller, W.M. & Powell, J. (2009). Energy sprawl or energy efficiency: climate policy impacts on natural habitat for the United States of America. PLoS ONE, 4, e6802.

Conservation Easements

Pocewicz, A., Kiesecker, J.M., Jones, G.P., Copeland, H.E., Daline, J. & Mealor, B.A. (2011). Effectiveness of conservation easements for reducing development and maintaining biodiversity in sagebrush ecosystems. Biological Conservation, 144, 567–574.

Kiesecker, J.M., Comendant, T., Grandmason, T., Gray, E., Hall, C., Hilsenbeck, R., Kareiva, P., Lozier, L., Naehu, P., Rissman, A., Shaw, M.R. & Zankel, M. (2007). Conservation easements in context: a quantitative analysis of their use by The Nature Conservancy. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 5, 125–130.

Rissman, A.R., Lozier, L., Comendant, T., Kareiva, P., Kiesecker, J.M., Shaw, M.R. & Merenlender, A.M. (2007). Conservation easements: biodiversity protection and private use. Conservation Biology, 21, 709–718.

Disease Ecology

Kiesecker, J.M. (2011). Global stressors and the global decline of amphibians: tipping the stress immunocompetency axis. Ecol Res, 26, 897–908.

Kiesecker, J.M. (2002). Synergism between trematode infection and pesticide exposure: a link to amphibian limb deformities in nature? PNAS, 99, 9900–9904.

Kiesecker, J.M., Blaustein, A.R. & Belden, L.K. (2001). Complex causes of amphibian population declines. Nature, 410, 681–684.

Kiesecker, J.M., Skelly, D.K., Beard, K.H. & Preisser, E. (1999). Behavioral reduction of infection risk. PNAS, 96, 9165–9168.

Invasive Species

Kiesecker, J.M., Blaustein, A.R. & Miller, C.L. (2001). Transfer of a pathogen from fish to amphibians. Conservation Biology, 15, 1064–1070.

Kiesecker, J.M., Blaustein, A.R. & Miller, C.L. (2001). Potential mechanisms underlying the displacement of native red-legged frogs by introduced bullfrogs. Ecology, 82, 1964–1970.

Kiesecker, J.M. & Blaustein, A.R. (1997). Population differences in responses of red-legged frogs (Rana aurora) to introduced bullfrogs. Ecology, 78, 1752–1760.

See Joe’s Scribd page for more of his papers.