Aerial view of campus with Williamsport, the Susquehanna River and Bald Eagle Mountain as a backdrop

Lycoming College considers effects of Marcellus Shale development on local forests

Lycoming College considers effects of Marcellus Shale development on local forests

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Lillie Langlois, Ph.D., visited the Lycoming College campus on Oct. 12 to present her work, “Effects of Marcellus shale gas development on habitat fragmentation of Pennsylvania forests,” which examined the rapid expansion of shale gas development within the northern Appalachians. The College’s close proximity to the region in question was of particular interest to many Lycoming students who can see the effects firsthand.

The talk was sponsored by Lycoming’s biology department as part of the Biology Colloquium, which is primarily to provide seniors an opportunity to present on their capstone experiences doing research, internships and other practical experiences. The fall colloquium provides an opportunity to expose junior and senior students to professional and academic fields in biology through off-campus speakers, including noteworthy presenters from the region, such as Langlois.

In her talk, Langlois discussed how local shale gas development has resulted in the direct loss of habitat for some forest-dependent wildlife species at well sites, pipelines and access roads. Her research used high-resolution aerial imagery to track both private and public land, and found that many public lands fared better in terms of forest preservation, likely resulting from better management practices. Her research suggests that to reduce future fragmentation, new pads should be placed near pre-existing pipelines, and pipelines should be consolidated with other infrastructure. Core forest will continue to be lost without properly mitigating the effects of new pipelines and infrastructure, particularly on private land. Her article can be found online at

“Langlois’ talk aligns with the mission of the Lycoming College Clean Water Institute and further demonstrates the connection between water and energy, which is a focus of the Center for Energy and the Future,” said Bob Smith, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology. “Speakers, such as Langlois, who are brought to campus for the Biology Colloquium, generate challenging discussions for our senior students that will benefit them academically, professionally and intellectually.”

Langlois recently earned a doctoral degree from the department of ecosystem science and management at Penn State University. Her dissertation research examined landscape changes associated with Marcellus shale gas development in Pennsylvania forests and in particular the effects of pipelines on bird abundance and distribution. Fieldwork for her dissertation took place across the north-central region of the state where she conducted bird surveys along natural gas infrastructure. Her professional interests include ornithology, ecology, conservation biology and geographic information systems.

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