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Mary Ratnaswamy

Director, DOI Northeast Climate Science Center

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Short Biography

Mary J. Ratnaswamy is originally from St. Paul, Minnesota.  She completed her B.A. in Biology at Carleton College in Northfield, MN.  She subsequently obtained a M.S. in Oceanography from the University of Rhode Island, and a Ph.D. in Forest Resources (Wildlife Ecology and Management) from University of Georgia.  She is currently a Research Manager at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center where she directs three programs including Migratory Birds, Coastal and Wetlands, and Ecosystems.

Mary J. Ratnaswamy is originally from St. Paul, Minnesota.  She completed her B.A. in Biology at Carleton College in Northfield, MN.  She did an independent study in a mangrove estuary in Costa Rica for her senior thesis.  Her experiences in Costa Rica led to strong interest in marine and coastal ecosystems, as well as marine mammal and sea turtle conservation.  After college graduation, Mary worked at the Illinois Natural History Survey, and then went back to school to obtain a M.S. in Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island.  Her Master’s work focused on population dynamics of fin whales along the Atlantic coast.  After obtaining her Master’s degree, Mary returned to Costa Rica to work at the Green Turtle Research Station in Tortuguero.  Mary subsequently worked for NOAA for five years, including conducting fisheries and bathymetric surveys in Alaska, Hawaii and California, and then oceanographic current research in the Caribbean.  After some additional work on marine mammals for a non-governmental conservation organization, Mary went back to graduate school for her Ph.D. in Forest Resources (Wildlife Ecology and Management) at the University of Georgia.  She had the opportunity to work with the National Park Service on an important management and conservation problem: raccoon depredation of sea turtle nests.  This research topic combined her interests in mammalian predators and sea turtle conservation.  Dr. Ratnaswamy took a position as Assistant Professor at University of Missouri-Columbia immediately after obtaining her Ph.D.  She advised graduate students as well as taught undergraduate and graduate courses for several years until leaving her academic position to work for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Annapolis, MD.  Dr. Ratnaswamy was Supervisor of the Endangered Species Program at the Chesapeake Bay Field Office for eight years, with a special focus on recovery of the endangered Delmarva fox squirrel.  In 2008, Dr. Ratnaswamy transferred to USGS/Patuxent Wildlife Research Center as Research Manager over three programs including Migratory Birds, Coastal and Wetlands, and Ecosystems.  Patuxent Wildlife Research Center is the largest biological science center in the USGS.  She currently supervises 15 research grade scientists, as well as several staff, students and technicians.  Dr. Ratnaswamy works closely with the Center Director and other managers to build and direct the science mission and operations of the Center.  Her work contributes to the overall strategic mission of the USGS, which is to provide the science needed by natural resource managers facing the impacts of climate change and other major environmental issues.


Ratnaswamy, M. J.  1995.  Raccoon depredation of sea turtle nests at Canaveral National Seashore, Florida: implications for species management and conservation.  Dissertation, University of Georgia, Athens, GA.


Ratnaswamy, M.  1982.  A photogrammetric study of growth in the fin whale, Balaenoptera physalus (Linnaeus 1758).  M.S. Thesis, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI.




Hilderbrand, R. H., R. H. Gardner, M. J. Ratnaswamy, and C. E. Keller.  2007.  Evaluating population persistence of Delmarva fox squirrels and potential impacts of climate change.  Biological Conservation 137:70-77.


Nelson, R., C. Keller, and M. Ratnaswamy.  2005.  Locating and estimating the extent of Delmarva fox squirrel habitat using an airborne LiDAR profiler.  Remote Sensing of Environment 96: 292-301.


Chalfoun, A. D., F. R. Thompson, and M. J. Ratnaswamy.  2002.  Nest predators and fragmentation: a review and meta-analysis.  Conservation Biology 16(2):306-318.


Chalfoun, A. D., M. J. Ratnaswamy, and F. R. Thompson.  2002.  Songbird nest predators in forest-pasture edge and forest interior in a fragmented landscape.  Ecological Applications 12(3):858-867.


Ratnaswamy, M. J., C. E. Keller, and G. D. Therres.  2001.  Private lands and endangered species: lessons from the Delmarva fox squirrel in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.  Transactions of the 66th North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference: 61-73.


Williams, A. K., M. J. Ratnaswamy, and R. B. Renken.  2001.  Impacts of a flood on small mammal populations of lower Missouri River floodplain forests.  American Midland Naturalist 146:217-221.


Baltz, M. E. and M. J. Ratnaswamy.  2000.  Mascot conservation programs: using college animal mascots to support species conservation efforts.  Wildlife Society Bulletin 28(1):159-163.


Kramer, M. T., R. J. Warren, M. J. Ratnaswamy, and B. T. Bond.  1999.  Determining sexual maturity of raccoons by external versus internal aging criteria.  Wildlife Society Bulletin 27(1):231-234.


Ratnaswamy, M. J., A. K. Williams and R. B. Renken.  1999.  Mammals (Chapter 7), in D. D. Humburg and V. J. Burke (eds).  Initial biotic survey of Lisbon Bottom, USFWS Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge, U.S.G.S. Biological Science Report USGS/BRD/BSR-2000-0001 (78pp).



Ratnaswamy, M. J., M. H. Smith, R. J. Warren, C. L. Rogers, and K. A. K. Stromayer.  1999. Genetic effects of a population bottleneck on a restored deer herd in a national military park.  Natural Areas Journal 19(1):41-46.


Ratnaswamy, M. J. and R. J. Warren.  1998.  Removing raccoons to protect sea turtle nests: are there implications for ecosystem management?  Wildlife Society Bulletin 26(4):846-850.


Ratnaswamy, M. J. , R. J. Warren, M. T. Kramer, and M. K. Adam.  1997.  Comparisons of lethal and nonlethal techniques to reduce raccoon depredation of sea turtle nests.   Journal of Wildlife Management 61(2):368-376.


Ratnaswamy, M. J. and H. E. Winn.  1993.  Photogrammetric estimates of allometry and calf production in fin whales, (Balaenoptera physalus).  Journal of Mammalogy 74(2):323-330.


Ratnaswamy, M. J., C. L. Rogers, R. J. Warren, M. H. Smith and K. A. K. Stromayer.  1993.  Electrophoretic comparison of road-killed deer and live-captured deer sampled by muscle biopsy.  Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies 47:211-221.


Hain, J. H. W., M. Ratnaswamy, R. D. Kenney, and H. E. Winn.  1992.  The fin whale, Balaenoptera physalus, in waters of the northeastern United States continental shelf.  Reports of the International Whaling Commission 42:653-669.


Ratnaswamy, M. J., D. Wilson, and R. L. Molinari.  1985.  Current velocity and hydrographic observations in the Straits of Florida: Subtropical Atlantic Climate Study (STACS) 1983 and 1984.  NOAA Data Report ERL AOML-5, 242 pp.


Scott, G. P., M. Ratnaswamy, and H. E. Winn.  1981.  Photogrammetric investigation of cetacean morphometry.  In: A characterization of marine mammals and turtles in the mid- and north-Atlantic areas of the U.S. outer continental shelf, Annual Report for 1979, Cetacean and Turtle Assessment Program (CETAP), University of Rhode Island, to Bureau of Land Management, Washington, D.C. (No. AA551-CT8-48).


Ratnaswamy, M.  1979.  Right whale morphometrics.  In: Quarterly Summary Report Nos. 2 and 3, Cetacean and Turtle Assessment Program (CETAP), University of Rhode Island, to Bureau of Land Management, Washington, D.C. (No. AA551-CT8-48).



My Science Topics

Science Topic
Ecology and Environmentaquatic ecosystems
Ecology and Environmentbiodiversity
Ecology and Environmentecosystems
Ecology and Environmentforests
Ecology and Environmentfreshwater ecosystems
Ecology and Environmentgrasslands
Ecology and Environmenthabitats
Ecology and Environmentisland ecosystems
Ecology and Environmenttundras
Ecology and Environmentwetlands
Plants and Animalsanimals
Plants and Animalsaquatic vegetation
Plants and Animalscapturing and trapping
Plants and Animalscarnivores
Plants and Animalsendangered species
Plants and Animalsextinction and extirpation
Plants and Animalsinvasive species
Plants and Animalsmigratory species
Plants and Animalsseasonal migration
Plants and Animalsspecies diversity
Plants and Animalsvertebrates
Plants and Animalswildlife
Plants and Animalswildlife population management

My USGS Science Strategy Areas

Energy & Minerals for America's Future

A Water Census of the United States

Climate Variability & Change

The Role of Environment and Wildlife in Human Health

Understanding Ecosystems & Predicting Ecosystems Change

Contact Information

Mary Ratnaswamy
134 Morrill Science Center (611 N. Pleasant St MaIL)
Amherst, MA 01003
413-545-2202 - Fax
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