Erik Olson faculty


Earned and Honorary Degrees

PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison
MS, University of Wisconsin-Madison
BS, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point


My research interests cover a broad array of conservation- and ecology-based questions, both applied and theoretical. I enjoy applying novel approaches to complex ecological questions. Currently, I am researching multiple aspects of wolf management and ecology in the Great Lakes Region, including: the implications of the sociopolitical conflict over wolves, the spatial and temporal patterns of wolf-human conflicts, how changes to wolf management and policy affect wolf-human conflicts, wolf management and tribal treaty rights, the behavioral response of white-tailed deer to the presence of wolves, and the top-down effect of wolves throughout the food web (trophic cascades).

I am also involved in lemur conservation and research in Madagascar. Currently, with colleagues at The Aspinall Foundation, I am using remote sensing and geospatial analyses to study how anthropogenic and cyclonic disturbances impact the distribution of four lemur species, each of extremely high conservation priority (indri, greater bamboo lemur, diademed sifaka, black-and-white ruffed lemur). Using geospatial analyses I am also examining what landscape characteristics best describe suitable habitats for these four lemur species.

I enjoy involving students in my research, as well as, mentoring students in their own independent research projects.

Peer-reviewed Journal Publications

Olson, E.R., Van Deelen, T., Wydeven, A.P., Ventura, S.J., and D.M. MacFarland. 2015. Characterizing wolf-human conflicts in Wisconsin, USA. Wildlife Society Bulletin. 39:676-688.

Olson, E.R., Stenglein, J.L, Shelley, V., Rissman, A.R., Browne-Nuñez, C., Voyles, Z., Wydeven, A.P., and T. Van Deelen. 2015. Pendulum swings in wolf management led to conflict, illegal kills, and a legislated wolf hunt. Conservation Letters. 8:351-360.

Olson, E.R., Treves, A., Wydeven, A.P., and S.J. Ventura. 2014. Landscape predictors of wolf attacks on bear-hunting dogs. Wildlife Research. 41:584-597.

Olson, E.R. and J. Doherty. 2014. Macrophyte diversity-abundance relationship mediated by invasive and native dominants. Aquatic Botany. 119:111-119.

Olson, E.R., Marsh, R.A., Bovard, B., Randrianarimanana, H., Ratsimbazafy, J., and T. King. 2013. Habitat preferences of the critically endangered greater bamboo lemur (Prolemur simus) and densities of one of its primary food sources, Madagascar giant bamboo (Cathariostachys madagascariensis), in sites with different degrees of anthropogenic and natural disturbance. International Journal of Primatology. 34:486-499.

Olson, E.R., Marsh, R.A., Bovard, B.N., Randrianarimanana, H., Ravaloharimanitra, M., Ratsimbazafy, J., and T. King. 2012. Arboreal camera trapping for the Critically Endangered greater bamboo lemur Prolemur simus. Oryx. 46:593-597.

Olson, E.R. and S.J. Ventura. 2012. Geospatial methods to examine shoreline erosion in the Chippewa Flowage: A case study. Lake & Reservoir Management. 28:170-175.

Olson, E.R. and J. Doherty. 2012. The legacy of pipeline installation on the soil and vegetation of southeast Wisconsin wetlands. Ecological Engineering. 39:53-62.

Olson, E.R., Ventura, S.J., and J.B. Zedler. 2012. Merging geospatial and field data to predict the distribution and abundance of an exotic macrophyte in a large Wisconsin reservoir. Aquatic Botany. 96, 31-41.

Olson, E.R. 2010. Rana pipiens (northern leopard frog) winter activity. Herpetological Review, 41:206.

Student Involvement

Although my travels have exposed me to many beautiful landscapes and cultures, my roots run deep in northern Wisconsin. From childhood to present, the woods, streams, wetlands, lakes, and prairies of Wisconsin have been my classroom. I am excited to have the opportunity to share my love of science and the north woods with the students of Northland College. As an ecologist, I enjoy interacting with students as they make observations and develop questions and theories on how the world works. I like to expose students to the scientific method and scientific concepts and theories through applied, interactive, and reflective learning.

As an ecologist trained in interdisciplinary scholarship, I believe it is important to introduce students to useful tools from other disciplines and to expose students to multiple paradigms. Thus, I cover some of the basics of statistics, social science, communications, political ecology, and geographic information systems science in labs and lectures.

Feel free to contact me for more information on my teaching philosophy and background.

Personal Interests

I enjoy being with my family and watching my daughter explore the woods and waters of the north woods. I participate in any activity that gets me outside, but my favorite activities include: backpacking, hunting, canoeing, rock and ice climbing, fishing, wild ricing, and hanging at the sugar camp with my family.

Erik Olson in the News