Wendy Loya, Ph.D.

Author Contact

Lead Ecologist


907-272-9453 x105

Wendy has led our Alaska Region’s ecology research program since 2006. Her research interests include impacts of oil and gas development on wildlife habitat in the Arctic, understanding climate change impacts on wildlife and watersheds and advancing methods for cumulative effects analyses. She and her team work closely with agency partners to improve the science upon which management decisions are made. 

Wendy earned her B.A. in Environmental Science at the University of Denver, a M.S. in Natural Resource Management at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and a Ph.D. at Kansas State University for her work in Arctic ecology and carbon biogeochemisty of tundra soils. She represents the conservation community on the Western Arctic Caribou Herd Working Group and is an appointed member of the North Slope Science Initiative Science Technical Advisory Panel. Her passion for the Arctic wilderness has inspired her to traverse the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge multiple times by foot and packraft with her dog.

Alaska Ecology Team Research

Our Alaska ecology team includes Dr. Loya (Lead Ecologist) and Jason Leppi, M.S. (Watershed Ecologist). The primary focus of our ecology research program in Alaska has been to better understand the impacts of climate and land use change, especially oil and gas development, on ecosystems in Alaska’s refuges, parks and BLM lands. We are narrowing that focus to America’s Arctic to bring forth the strongest program possible to protect this priority landscape. The Wilderness Society has ecologists working out of offices in California, Montana, Colorado and Maine.

We use our scientific research to improve management decisions that are being made both regionally and nationally. We do this through direct outreach with land managers, participating in conferences and workshops with scientists and other NGOs and submitting technical comments to policy makers. Seven years of ecological research and science outreach have made The Wilderness Society in Alaska the “go-to” place for many federal agencies looking for data, methods and a framework for incorporating climate change into research and management plans.

In the past several years, we have also become a leader in cumulative effects analyses, working directly with federal and state agencies that do not have the expertise or proper guidance to produce quantitative analyses. Cumulative effects analyses are an important part of NEPA and, therefore, play an important role in how our national public lands are managed and developed. It is critical that these decisions are based on sound science when there is data available.

Recent Publications:

Leppi, J.C., R.R. Wilson, D.J.Rinella and W.M. Loya. In prep. Linking climate change projections for an Alaskan Watershed to future coho salmon production. For submission to Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences.

Loinaz, M.C., R.H. Prucha, J.C. Leppi, S.McAfee and W.M. Loya. 2013. Stream temperature changes due to climate change within the Chuitna Watershed, Alaska. The Wilderness Society for US Fish and Wildlife Service.  46pp.

Wison, R. R., J. Liebezeit, W.M. Loya. 2013.  Accounting for uncertainty in oil and gas development impacts to wildlife in Alaska. Conservation Letters. doi: 10.1111/conl.12016

McAfee, S.A., A. Springsteen, B. O’Brien, T.S. Rupp and W.M. Loya. 2012.  An assessment of high-resolution Potential Evapotranspiration (PET) datasets and projections for Alaska. The Wilderness Society and University of Alaska Fairbanks Scenarios Network for Alaska Planning. 46pp.

Wilson, R.R., A. Bartsch, K. Joly, J. Reynolds, A. Orlando, W.M. Loya. 2012. Frequency, timing, extent and size of winter thaw-refreeze events in Alaska 2001-2008 detected by remotely sensed microwave backscatter data.  Polar Biology,. doi: 10.1007/s00300-012-1272-6.

Prucha, R., J. Leppi, S. McAfee, and W.M. Loya. 2012. Integrated hydrologic effects of climate change in the Chuitna Watershed, Alaska. The Wilderness Society for US Fish and Wildlife Service. 158pp.