Erika M. Nowak, PhD

Erika  M. Nowak Herpetologist, Colorado Plateau Field Station
Northern Arizona University
Adjunct, Department of Biological Sciences
Blg 56 Rm #150
Phone: 928-523-7760

Dr. Nowak earned a BS in Wildlife Biology from Cornell University (1991), a MS in Biology (1998) from Northern Arizona University, and a PhD in Biology (2009) from Northern Arizona University. Her Master’s thesis research was on the biological effects and management effectiveness of nuisance rattlesnake translocation. Her PhD research, under the USGS SCEP program, investigated the ecology and potential predatory roles of venomous reptiles living in place in national parks, as well as the trophic-level impacts of provisioning food and water to rattlesnake prey in human-developed areas. 

Dr. Nowak’s current research interests are in herpetofauna and small vertebrate inventories, and ecology, behavior, conservation, and science-based management of herpetofauna, particularly venomous reptiles and declining gartersnakes. She has conducted herpetological and small mammal inventories across the Southwestern US for federal, tribal, state, and non-profit entities. As an internationally-recognized expert on viper ecology and management and member of the IUCN Viper Species Group, she conducts field research on rattlesnakes and Gila Monsters, provides science-based data and policy reviews for management and translocation of venomous reptiles, and provides safe snake handling trainings for federal, state, and other agencies. She has collaborated with Dr. Pälvi Salo of the University of Turku, Finland (http://users.utu.fi/pakisa/Welcome.html), on development and implementation of viper research and education in that country. Dr. Nowak’s previous venomous reptile (and other) research has been featured extensively in local, national, and international media outlets, and on several television programs.

Dr.Nowak is also regionally recognized for her expertise with narrow-headed and Mexican gartersnakes, both currently proposed for federal listing as threatened with critical habitat. A member of the Arizona-New Mexico Gartersnake Conservation Working Group, she has conducted surveys and telemetric studies for both species across their range in Arizona and New Mexico, is actively involved with efforts to improve husbandry and breeding for narrow-headed gartersnakes based on her field research, has served as a technical expert and reviewer for federal listing proposals, state recovery and management plans. She also provides trainings in effective and humane survey methods for both species.

Along with her research, Dr. Nowak also focuses on education at all levels, including teaching at NAU, lecturing to Prescott College and community college classes, mentoring graduate, undergraduate, and younger students, and providing public outreach, including answering questions about snakes. She holds an adjunct faculty position in the Department of Biological Sciences and is the Assistant Curator of Herpetology at NAU (http://nau.edu/CEFNS/NatSci/Biology/Research/Other/). She currently co-supervises two MS thesis projects on declining gartersnakes and serves on one PhD committee at NAU. She co-supervises URM (undergraduate research mentoring) students; current projects include investigating herpetofauna and small mammal use of slash piles, and analyzing methods for improving husbandry of captive narrow-headed gartersnakes. She also supervises undergraduate students from NAU and Prescott College in a variety of herpetological projects.

Dr. Nowak’s interests also include involvement in professional societies and community outreach. She is a former steering member of Southwest Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (PARC), a Board Member of Habitat Harmony, Inc. (http://www.habitatharmony.org/), an honorary life member of the Tucson Herpetological Society, and a member of the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, The Wildlife Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and Sigma Xi. She provides peer reviews for multiple journals and proposals. She has volunteered to provide technical expertise and data to inform community planning decisions, including assistance with development of Flagstaff’s Regional Plans beginning in 2001.

Projects

Nowak, E.M., B. K. Sullivan, and M. Kwiatkowski. Mitigation translocation of nuisance herpetofauna: can it be improved? Invited paper, Animal Conservation translocation special issue.

Nowak, E.M.and G.W. Schuett. Do syntopic rattlesnakes from the Upper Sonoran Desert of Arizona exhibit niche separation? Biology of the Rattlesnakes, Vol. II.

Nowak, E.M., G.W. Schuett, T.C. Theimer, K. Nishikawa, and T. Sisk. Effects of food and water provisioning on a predator-prey system. Journal of Wildlife Management.

Project 3: Ecology and management of venomous reptiles, long-term monitoring, and educational outreach in National Parks.

Nowak, E.M., and M. Amarello. Crotalus cerberus: Arizona Black Rattlesnake. Invited chapter, Snakes of Arizona book.

Project 7: Distribution and ecology of Arizona Black rattlesnakes (Crotalus cerberus).

Journal Publications

Loughran, C.L., E. M. Nowak, J. Schofer, K.O. Sullivan, and B.K. Sullivan. 2013 in press. Lagomorph prey of western diamond-backed ratllesnakes (Crotalus atrox) in Arizona.The Southwest Naturalist.

Amarello, M., E.M. Nowak, E.N. Taylor, G.W. Schuett, R.A. Repp, P.C. Rosen, and D.L. Hardy Sr. 2010. Potential environmental influences on variation in body size and sexual size dimorphism among Arizona populations of the western diamond-backed rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox). Journal of Arid Environments 74: 1443-1449.

Hamilton, B.T., and E.M. Nowak. 2009. Relationships between insolation and rattlesnake hibernacula. Western North American Naturalist 69: 319-328.

Nowak, E.M., T. Theimer and G.W. Schuett. 2008. Functional and numerical responses of predators: Where do vipers fit in the traditional paradigms? Biological Reviews 83: 601-620.

Kwiatkowski, M.W., G.W. Schuett, R.A. Repp, E.M. Nowak, and B.K. Sullivan. 2008. Does urbanization influence the spatial ecology of Gila Monsters in the Sonoran Desert? Journal of Zoology 276: 350-357.

Project 3: Ecology and management of venomous reptiles, long-term monitoring, and educational outreach in National Parks.

Book Chapters

Nowak, E.M. and T.B. Persons. 2010. Milksnakes at Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona: Implications for monitoring rare vertebrates. pp. 133-150 In C. van Riper III, B.F. Wakeling, and T.D. Sisk, editors. The Colorado Plateau IV: Shaping conservation through science and management. University of Arizona Press, Tucson, Arizona.

Persons, T.B., E.M. Nowak, and D. Mikesic. 2008. Overview of herpetofauna inventories in Southern Colorado Plateau National Parks. pp. 197-218 In C. van Riper III and M. Sogge, editors. The Colorado Plateau III: Integrating research and resources management for effective conservation. University of Arizona Press, Tucson, Arizona.

Nowak, E.M. 2005. Movement patterns and life history of western diamond-backed rattlesnakes (Crotalus atrox) at Tuzigoot National Monument, Arizona. pp. 253-274 In C. van Riper III and D. Mattson, editors. The Colorado Plateau II: Biophysical, socioeconomic, and cultural research. University of Arizona Press, Tucson, Arizona.

Project 5: Inventory and monitoring of herpetofauna and small mammals.

Nowak, E.M., T. Hare, and J. McNally. 2002.Management of "nuisance" vipers: Effects of translocation on western diamondback rattlesnakes (Crotalusatrox). pp. 533-560 In G.W. Schuett, M. Höggren, M.E. Douglas, and H.W. Greene, editors. Biology of the Vipers. Eagle Mountain Publishing, LC, UT (USA).

Project 3: Ecology and management of venomous reptiles, long-term monitoring, and educational outreach in National Parks.

Drost, C.A., T.B. Persons, and E.M. Nowak. 2001. Herpetofauna survey of Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona. Pages 83-102 In C. van Riper III, K.A. Thomas, and M.A. Stuart, editors. Proceedings of the Fifth Biennial Conference of Research on the Colorado Plateau. U.S. Geological Survey/FRESC Report Series USGSFRESC/COPL/2001/24.

Project 5: Inventory and monitoring of herpetofauna and small mammals.

Natural History and Distribution Notes

Nowak, E.M., V.L. Boyarski, S.D. Nichols, and T. Greene. 2013 in press. Thamnophis eques megalops (Northern Mexican Gartersnake). Maternal transmission of endoparasites. Herpetological Review.

Project 1: Inventories, long-term monitoring, and clearance surveys for declining gartersnakes (narrow-headed gartersnakes, T. rufipunctatus, and northern Mexican gartersnakes, T. eques megalops) in their US range.

Bridges, A., and E.M. Nowak. 2012. Thamnophis cyrtopsis (distribution record). Herpetological Review 43(2):309.

Project 5: Inventory and monitoring of herpetofauna and small mammals.

Emmons, I.D., and E.M. Nowak. 2012. Thamnophis rufipunctatus (distribution record). Herpetological Review 43(2):310.

Nowak, E.M., and V.L. Boyarski. 2012. Thamnophis eques megalops (Northern Mexican Gartersnake). Reproduction: litter size. Herpetological Review 43(2): 351-352.

Project 1: Inventories, long-term monitoring, and clearance surveys for declining gartersnakes (narrow-headed gartersnakes, T. rufipunctatus, and northern Mexican gartersnakes, T. eques megalops) in their US range.

Loughran, C.L., E.M. Nowak, and R.W. Parker. 2012. Heloderma suspectum; Crotalus cerberus; Crotalus molossus molossus. Diet. Herpetological Review 43(1): various.

Project 7:Distribution and ecology of Arizona Black rattlesnakes (Crotalus cerberus). and Project 3: Ecology and management of venomous reptiles, long-term monitoring, and educational outreach in National Parks.

Persons, T.B., and E.M. Nowak. 2005. Hypsiglena torquata (distribution record). Phrynosoma modestum (distribution record). Herpetological Review 36(1): 80, 82.

Monatesti, AJ, T.B. Persons, and E.M. Nowak. 2005. Hyla eximia (distribution record). Herpetological Review 36(1): 74-75.

Project 5: Inventory and monitoring of herpetofauna and small mammals.

Schuett, G.W., E.M. Nowak, and R.A. Repp. 2002. Crotalus cerberus (Arizona Black Rattlesnake): Diet and prey size. Herpetological Review 33(3): 210-211.

Project 7: Distribution and ecology of Arizona Black rattlesnakes (Crotalus cerberus).

Technical reports, peer-reviewed

van Riper, C., III., J.R. Hatten, J.T. Giermakowski, D. Mattson, J.A. Holmes, M.J. Johnson, E.M. Nowak, K. Ironside, M. Peters, P. Heinrich, and C.R. Schwalbe. Forecasting climate impacts on wildlife of the arid Southwest at regional and local scales using downscaled climate models. U.S. Geological Survey Administrative Report to NCCWSC.

Project 4: Forecasting the future distributions of southwestern herpetofauna

Nowak, E.M., and T. Arundel. 2009. Co-occurrence of syntopic venomous reptiles at Tonto National Monument, Arizona, U.S.A. Final report to National Park Service (Tonto National Monument). USGS Southwest Biological Science Center, Colorado Plateau Research Station, Flagstaff, AZ.

Project 3: Ecology and management of venomous reptiles, long-term monitoring, and educational outreach in National Parks.

Persons, T.B., and E.M. Nowak. 2007. Inventory of amphibians and reptiles at Mojave National Preserve. USGS Southwest Biological Science Center Open-File Report # 2007-1109.

Persons, T.B., and E.M. Nowak. 2006. Inventory of amphibians and reptiles in Southern Colorado National Parks. USGS Southwest Biological Science Center Open-File Report 2006-1132.

Persons, T.B., and E.M. Nowak. 2006. Inventory of Amphibians and reptiles at Death Valley National Park. USGS Southwest Biological Science Center Open-File Report 2006-1233.

Persons, T.B., E.M. Nowak, and S. Hillard. 2006. Inventory of amphibians and reptiles at Manzanar National Historic Site, California. USGS Southwest Biological Science Center Open-File Report 2006-1232.

Project 5: Inventory and monitoring of herpetofauna and small mammals.

Nowak, E.M. 2005.Why did the Gila Monster cross the road? Results from a study at Tonto National Monument, Arizona. Sonoran Herpetologist 18(9): 98-101.

Project 3: Ecology and management of venomous reptiles, long-term monitoring, and educational outreach in National Parks.

Nowak, E.M. 2003. Distribution, ecology, and management recommendations for the narrow-headed garter snake (Thamnophis rufipunctatus) in Oak Creek, Arizona. Sonoran Herpetologist 16 (10-11).

Project 1: Inventories, long-term monitoring, and clearance surveys for declining gartersnakes (narrow-headed gartersnakes, T. rufipunctatus, and northern Mexican gartersnakes, T. eques megalops) in their US range.

Nowak, E.M. and C. van Riper III. 1999. Effects and effectiveness of rattlesnake relocation at Montezuma Castle National Monument. U.S. Geological Survey/FRESC Report Series USGS/FRESC/COPL/1999/17.

Project 3: Ecology and management of venomous reptiles, long-term monitoring, and educational outreach in National Parks.

Nowak, E.M. 1996. CPRS participates in the Flagstaff Festival of Science. Colorado Plateau Newsletter, Vol. 6, No. 3, Fall 1996.

Nowak, E.M. 1998. Implications of nuisance rattlesnake relocation at Montezuma Castle National Monument. Sonoran Herpetologist 11(1) 1998.

Nowak, E.M. 1996. Rattlesnake relocation at Montezuma Castle National Monument. Colo­rado Pla­teau News­let­ter, Vol. 6, No. 1, Winte­r 1996.

Project 3: Ecology and management of venomous reptiles, long-term monitoring, and educational outreach in National Parks.

Nowak, E.M., and C.A. Drost. 1993. Amphibian decline on the Colorado Plateau: CPSU seeks baseline data. Colo­rado Pla­teau Newslet­ter, Vol. 3, No. 3, Sum­mer 1993.

Technical reports, not peer-reviewed

Nowak, E.M. 2013. Herpetology. pp. 81-87 in Watson Woods Riparian Preserve Restoration Project. Prescott Creeks Preservation Association (editor). Final report to Arizona Water Protection Fund Commission in fulfillment of Grant # 08-158WPF, Prescott, Arizona.

Project 5: Inventory and monitoring of herpetofauna and small mammals.

Emmons, I., and E.M. Nowak. 2013. 2012 Northern Mexican Gartersnake surveys. Interim report to Arizona Game and Fish Department, Salt River Project, National Park Service, US Forest Service, and US Fish and Wildlife Service. Colorado Plateau Research Station, Flagstaff, AZ.

Emmons, I., and E.M. Nowak. 2012. Prescott National Forest riparian herpetofauna surveys, 2010-2012. Final Report to US Forest Service (Prescott National Forest). Colorado Plateau Research Station, Flagstaff, AZ.

E.M. Nowak, M. Liszewski, and I. Emmons. 2011. Surveys for Northern Mexican Gartersnakes in Tavasci Marsh (Tuzigoot National Monument). Final Report to National Park Service (Tuzigoot National Monument). Colorado Plateau Research Station, Flagstaff, AZ.

Project 1: Inventories, long-term monitoring, and clearance surveys for declining gartersnakes (narrow-headed gartersnakes, T. rufipunctatus, and northern Mexican gartersnakes, T. eques megalops) in their US range.

Emmons, I., and E.M. Nowak. 2011. Petrified Forest Expansion Areas small vertebrate surveys. Interim Report to National Park Service (Petrified Forest National Park). Colorado Plateau Research Station, Flagstaff, AZ.

Nowak, E.M., J.F. Fisher, J.V. Hart, and T.B. Persons. 2007. Vertebrate fauna and terrestrial vegetation of Rainbow Forest Wilderness Area, Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona. Final report submitted to National Park Service (Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona).

Project 5: Inventory and monitoring of herpetofauna and small mammals.

Nowak, E.M. and J.X. Schofer. 2006. Initial surveys to locate Arizona black rattlesnakes (Crotalus viridis cerberus) in Arizona national parks and monuments. Final report to Western National Parks Association (Grant # 04-14). USGS Southwest Biological Science Center Colorado Plateau Research Station, Flagstaff, Arizona

Nowak, E.M. 2005. Ecology of the Arizona black rattlesnake (Crotalus [viridis] cerberus) at Tonto National Monument, Arizona. Final report to Desert Southwest Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit. USGS Southwest Biological Science Center Colorado Plateau Research Station, Arizona.

Project 7:Distribution and ecology of Arizona Black rattlesnakes (Crotalus cerberus).

Nowak, E.M.2006.Monitoring surveys and telemetry of narrow-headed gartersnakes (Thamnophis rufipunctatus) in Oak Creek, Arizona. Unpublished final report to Arizona Game and Fish Department Heritage Fund, IIPAM Program. USGS Southwest Biological Science Center Colorado Plateau Research Station, Flagstaff, Arizona. 

Nowak, E.M., and M.A. Santana-Bendix. 2002. Status, distribution, and management recommendations for the narrow-headed gartersnake (Thamnophis rufipunctatus) in Oak Creek, Arizona. Final report to Arizona Game and Fish Department in fulfillment of Heritage Grant I99007. USGS Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center, Colorado Plateau Field Station, Flagstaff, Arizona.

Project 1: Inventories, long-term monitoring, and clearance surveys for declining gartersnakes (narrow-headed gartersnakes, T. rufipunctatus, and northern Mexican gartersnakes, T. eques megalops) in their US range.

Nowak, E.M., and M.D. Spille. 2001. Watson Woods Preserve herpetological interpretive guide and checklist. Final report prepared in conjunction with Prescott Creeks Preservation Association to the Arizona Department of Water Resources Water Protection Fund Grant No. 99-076.

Project 5: Inventory and monitoring of herpetofauna and small mammals