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Earl  McCoy

Earl McCoy

Earl McCoy
Professor and Associate Chair


Office: SCA 314
Phone: 813-974-5219
Lab: SCA 315
Fax: 974-3263


Personal Bio



Ph.D., Florida State University, 1977.


Biogeography, Biostatistics, Conservation, Restoration

 My students and I study a broad range of ecological and biogeographical problems. Many of our projects relate in some way to conservation biology, either in theory or in practice. Most of our current research deals with conservation and restoration of severely threatened upland habitats, particularly sandhill and scrub, in Florida. Within this framework, my students have focused their projects on a variety of topics: structure of gopher tortoise populations, demography and autecology of sand skinks, restoration of Florida mouse populations on lands mined for phosphate, and comparative biology of common and rare frogs, for example. Other students have focused their projects on topics such as methods of ecological analysis and the composition of species' assemblages. My own research encompasses additional topics in the areas of disturbance ecology, particularly fire ecology; biogeographical theory; and the philosophical basis of ecology.

Virtually all of the research being conducted by my students is aimed at solving particular problems and, therefore, probably would be labeled "applied research" by many persons. My students are encouraged to take a broad view of ecological research, however. They are well-versed in ecological theory and practice, and most develop a useful set of computer, statistics, and modern genetics skills.

Specialty Area


Conservation Ecology

Recent Journal Articles


Honors and Award






Recent Publications


Schrey, A.W., A.K. Ragsdale, E.D. McCoy and H.R. Mushinsky. 2016. Repeated habitat disturbances by fire decrease local effective population size. Journal of Heredity, Doi:10.1093/jhered/esw016, pp 1-6.

Schrey, A.W., R.K. Evans, M. Netherland, K.G. Ashton, H.R. Mushinsky and E.D. McCoy. 2015. Phylogeography of the Peninsula Crowned Snake (Tantilla relicta relicta) on the Lake Wales Ridge in central Florida. Journal of Herpetology 49: 415-419.

Rizkalla, C.A., E.D. McCoy, E.J. Britt and H.R. Mushinsky. 2015. Indirect monitoring of a rare lizard: Effects of sampling intensity, season, and management practices. Herpetological Conservation and Biology 10: 894-903.

Collins, A.B.., L.R. Barbieri, L.R., R.S. Mc Bride, E.D. McCoy and P.J. Motta. 2015. Reef relief and volume are predictors of Goliath grouper presence and abundance in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. Bulletin of Marine Science 91: 399-418.

Robbins, T.R., L.E. Straub, K.D. Gorospe, S.A. Karl, A.W. Schrey, E.D. McCoy and H.R. Mushinsky. 2014. The rise and fall of a hybrid zone: Implications for the roles of aggression, mate choice, and secondary succession. Journal of Heredity 105: 226-236.

Reed, J.M. and E.D. McCoy. 2014. Relation of minimum viable population size to biology, time frame, and objective. Conservation Biology 28: 867-870.

McCoy, E.D., N. Osman, B. Hauch A. Emerick and H.R. Mushinsky. 2014. Increasing the chance of successful translocation of a threatened lizard. Animal Conservation 17 (S1): 56-64.

Germano, J., J. Ewen, H.R. Mushinsky, E.D. McCoy and L. Ortiz-Catedral. 2014. Moving towards greater success in translocations: Recent advances from the herpetofauna. Animal Conservation 17 (S1)): 1-3.

D. C. Rostal, E. D. McCoy, H. R. Mushinsky, (eds.). 2014. Biology and Conservation of North American Tortoises. Johns Hopkins University Press.

E. D. McCoy, K. A. Basiotis, K. M. Connor, H. R. Mushinsky. 2013. Habitat selection increases the isolation effect of habitat fragmentation on the gopher tortoise. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 67:815-821.

Heath, S., A..W. Schrey, K.G. Ashton, H.R. Mushinsky and E.D. McCoy. 2012. Genetic differentiation of a poorly-dispersing lizard in continuous and fragmented habitat. Journal of Herpetology 46: 602-607.

McCoy, E.D., J.M. Styga, C.A. Rizkalla and H.R. Mushinsky. 2012. Fire intervals affect ectoparasite prevalence on lizards in the Florida Scrub ecosystem. Fire Ecology 8(3): 32-40.

Ennen, J.R., B.R. Kreiser, C.P. Qualls, D. Gaillard, M. Aresco, R. Birkhead, T. Tuberville, E.D. McCoy, H.R. Mushinsky, W.R. Hentges, and A.W. Schrey. 2012. A mitochondrial DNA reassessment of the phylogeography of the Gopher Tortoise. JOURNAL OF FISH AND WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT 3: 110-122.

Guzy, J.C., E.D. McCoy, A.C. Deyle, S. Gonzalez, N. Halstead, H.R. Mushinsky. 2012. Urbanization interferes with the use of amphibians as indicators of ecological integrity of wetlands. JOURNAL OF APPLIED ECOLOGY 49: 941-952

Schrey, A.W., K.G. Ashton, S. Heath, H.R. Mushinsky, E.D. McCoy. 2012. Range-wide genetic analysis of a rare lizard identifies genetic structure similar to that of more common sympatric lizards. JOURNAL OF HERPETOLOGY 46: 241-247.

Schrey, A.W., C.A.C. Coon, M. Grispo, M. Awad, E.D. McCoy, H.R. Mushinsky, L.B. Martin. 2012. Epigenetic variation may compensate for decreased genetic variation with introductions: A case study using house sparrows (Passer domesticus) on two continents. GENETICS RESEARCH INTERNATIONAL 2012: 979751

Smiley, S.A., E.D. McCoy, A.W. Schrey, H.R. Mushinsky. 2012. Multifaceted conservation assessment of uncommon species: The golden mouse (Ochrotomys nuttalli) in Florida. DIVERSITY AND DISTRIBUTIONS 18: 1120-1129.

McCoy, E.D., R.D. Moore, H.R. Mushinsky, S.C. Popa. 2011. Effects of rainfall and the potential influence of climate change on two congeneric tortoise species. CHELONIAN CONSERVATION AND BIOLOGY 10: 34-41.

Schrey, A.W., K.G. Ashton, S. Heath, E.D. McCoy, H.R. Mushinsky. 2011. Fire alters patterns of genetic diversity among three lizard species in Florida Scrub habitat. JOURNAL OF HEREDITY 102: 399-408.

Schrey, A.W., A.M. Fox, H.R. Mushinsky, E.D. McCoy. 2011. Fire increases variance in genetic characteristics of Florida Sand Skink (Plestiodon reynoldsi) local populations. MOLECULAR ECOLOGY 20: 56-66.

Schrey, A.W., M. Grispo, M. Awad, M.B. Cook, E.D. McCoy, H.R. Mushinsky, T. Albayrak, S. Bensch, L.K. Butler, H.B. Fokidis, H. Jensen, T. Imboma, A.M. Reynolds, M.M. Rios, L.M. Romero, I.R.K Stewart, H. Westerdahl, D.F. Westneat, P. Zehtindjev, L.B. Martin. 2011. Broad-scale latitudinal patterns of genetic diversity among native European and introduced house sparrow (Passer domesticus) populations. MOLECULAR ECOLOGY 20: 1133-1143.

Frank, J.H., R.G. van Drietsch, M.S. Hoddle, E.D. McCoy. 2011. Biological control of animals. In: Encyclopedia of Biological Invasions, pp. 58-63 (UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA PRESS, Simberloff and Rejmánek, Eds.).

US Fish and Wildlife Service (Prepared by Recovery Plan Assessment Committee: C.R. Tracy, W. Boarman, D. Delehanty, J. Heaton, E.D. McCoy, K. Nussear, B. Hagerty, P. Medica, D. Morafka, R. Averill-Murray. 2011. Revised recovery plan for the Mojave population of the desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii). US FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE, 209pp.

McCoy, E.D. and J.H. Frank. 2010. How should the risk associated with the introduction of biological control agents be estimated? AGRICULTURAL AND FOREST ENTOMOLOGY 12: 1-8.

Mushinsky, H.R. and McCoy, E.D. 2008. Habitat requirements of key vertebrate species that are under-represented on phosphate mined lands. FLORIDA INSTITUTE OF PHOSPHATE RESEARCH.

McCoy, E.D., Mushinsky, H.R., W.J. Shockley, M.R. Alvarez. 2008. Aging the threatened sand skink with skeletochronology. COPEIA

McCoy, E.D., H.R. Mushinsky, R.D. Moore. 2008. A future with small populations of the gopher tortoise. In: Urban Herpetology HERPETOLOGICAL CONSERVATION, (Jung and Mitchell, Eds.).

McCoy, E.D., K.S. Berry. 2008. Using an Ecological Ethics framework to make decisions about the relocation of wildlife. SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING ETHICS.

McCoy, E.D. 2008. A data aggregation problem in studies of upper respiratory tract disease in the gopher tortoise. HERPETOLOGICAL REVIEW

Halstead, B.J., H.R. Mushinsky, E.D. McCoy. 2008. Sympatric Masticophis flagellum and Coluberconstrictor select prey at different levels of taxonomy. COPEIA

Durbin, D., S. Gonzalez, K. Robbins, N. Halstead, H.R. Mushinsky, E.D. McCoy. 2008. Wildlife habitat and wildlife utilization of phosphate-mined lands. FLORIDA INSTITUTE OF PHOSPHATE RESEARCH.

Catenazzi, A, H.R. Mushinsky, E.D. McCoy. 2008. Plestiodon reynoldsi (sand skink) albinism. COPEIA

Riedl, S.C., H.R. Mushinsky, E.D. McCoy. 2008. Translocation of the gopher tortoise: Difficulties associated with assessing success. APPLIED HERPETOLOGY 5: 145-160

McCoy, E.D., K.S. Berry. 2008. Using an Ecological Ethics framework to make decisions about the relocation of wildlife. SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING ETHICS, 14(4):505-21

Mushinsky, H.R., E.D. McCoy, N. Halstead. 2007. Measuring wetland health: Establishing current population levels of anurans in cypress domes. SOUTHWEST FLORIDA WATER MANAGEMENT DISTRICT. 43pp.

McCoy, E.D., H.R. Mushinsky, J.K. Lindzey. 2007. Conservation strategies and emergent diseases: The case of upper respiratory tract disease in the gopher tortoise. CHELONIAN CONSERVATION AND BIOLOGY 6: 170-176.

McCoy, E.D., H.R. Mushinsky. 2007. Estimates of minimum patch size depend on the method of estimation and the condition of the habitat. ECOLOGY 88: 1401-1407.

Hudson, P., K. Berry, C.R. Tracy, E.D. McCoy, K. Ralls, M. Reed, R. Steidl. 2007. Understanding disease in desert tortoise populations: A brief summary of knowledge and recommendations pertinent to conservation. US FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE. 12pp.

Halstead, B.J., E.D. McCoy, T.A. Stilson, H.R. Mushinsky. 2007. Alternative foraging tactics of a central place forager examined using correlated random walk models. HERPETOLOGICA 63: 472-481.

Frank, J.H., E.D. McCoy. 2007. The risk of classical biological control in Florida. BIOLOGICAL CONTROL 41:151-174.

McCoy, E.D., H.R. Mushinsky, J.K. Lindzey. 2007. Conservation strategies and emergent diseases: The case of upper respiratory tract disease in the gopher tortoise. Chelonian Conservation and Biology.

McCoy, E.D., H.R. Mushinsky, J.K. Lindzey. 2006. Population declines of the gopher tortoise on protected lands. Biological Conservation 128: 120-127.

Moon, J.C., E.D. McCoy, H.R. Mushinsky, S.A. Karl. 2006. Multiple paternity and breeding systems in the gopher tortoise. Journal of Heredity 97: 150-157.

Mushinsky, E.D., E.D. McCoy. 2006. The gopher tortoise, Gopherus polyphemus, an underground engineer. REPTILIA 49:16-21.

Mushinsky, H.R., E.D. McCoy, J.S. Berish, R.E. Ashton, D.S. Wilson. 2006. Gopherus polyphemus – gopher tortoise. In: Biology and Conservation of Florida Turtles (Meylan, Ed.), Chelonian Research Monographs 3, pp. 350-375.

Wilson, D.S., H.R. Mushinsky, E.D. McCoy. 2006. Kinosternon baurii – striped mud turtle. In:Biology and Conservation of Florida Turtles (Meylan, Ed.), Chelonian Research Monographs 3, pp. 180-188.

McCoy, E.D. 2004. Philosophies of evidence encounter the realities of data. In: The Nature of Scientific Evidence: Statistical, Philosophical, and Empirical Considerations (Taper & Lele, Eds.), pp. 97-99, University of Chicago Press.

McCoy, E.D., P.P. Hartmann, H.R. Mushinsky. 2004. Population biology of the rare Florida scrub lizard in fragmented habitat. Herpetologicaem> 60: 54-61.

McCoy, E.D., S.K. Pierce. 2004. The function of course pre-requisites: Comparing “student-driven” and “faculty-driven” models. American Institute of Biolgical Sciences (

Mushinsky, H.R., T.A. Stilson, E.D. McCoy. 2003. Diet and dietary preference of the juvenile gopher tortoise. Herpetologica 59: 477-485.