US Forest Service Research & Development
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  • US Forest Service Research & Development
  • 1400 Independence Ave., SW
  • Washington, D.C. 20250-0003
  • 800-832-1355
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Todd B. Cross

Research Biologist
1648 S 7th Ave
United States

Phone: 406-209-8633
Contact Todd B. Cross

Current Research

I am a postdoctoral research scientist at the University of Montana stationed at the Forest Service’s National Genomics Center for Wildlife & Fish Conservation. Here, I am involved in a large-scale greater sage-grouse conservation genetics project which aims to understand population structure and to identify landscape and environmental features critical to maintaining genetic connectivity for this species of great conservation concern. I use cutting-edge genomic methods and robust genetic tools to gather information from thousands of birds sampled from leks across the species’ range. My efforts are in close collaboration with state and federal agencies and non-governmental organizations involved with sage grouse management across the eleven western states within the species’ range. Together, we are tackling an unprecedentedly large study which will provide a comprehensive view of genetic population structure, patterns of diversity, and qualitative connectivity data.


  • University of Montana, Ph.D. Fish And Wildlife Biology Dissertation Title: Dispersal, genetic structure, network connectivity and conservation of an at-risk, large-landscape species 2017
  • Wheaton College, B.S. Biology 2006

Professional Experience

  • Post-Doctoral Researcher, National Genomics Center for Wildlife and Fish Conservation, Wildlife and Terrestrial Ecosystems, Rocky Mountain Research Station, USDA Forest Service & USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service – Sage Grouse Initiative.
    2017 - Current
    Given the vast expanse across which the greater sage-grouse ranges, knowing where to target conservation investments to get the greatest return can be an overwhelming task. This position focuses on providing spatial data-driven conservation prioritization tools made publicly available using Google Earth Engine and SGI Map. As part of this position, I have optimized research products from my dissertation and recent work for this interface, so that data and results can be interacted with and downloaded for stakeholders. Tools provided include a network prioritization tool that ranks greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) leks for their importance to maintaining genetic connectivity, and a map of pathways of range-wide genetic connectivity (pathways of gene flow) among leks. Concurrently, I have developed and am testing a genome-wide marker panel of 70,000 genic single nucleotide polymorphisms for greater sage-grouse.
  • Wildlife Biologist Student Trainee, Ph. D. Candidate, National Genomics Center for Wildlife and Fish Conservation, Wildlife and Terrestrial Ecosystems, Rocky Mountain Research Station, USDA Forest Service
    2011 - 2017
    My dissertation research was centered on using large scale, high resolution, non-invasive genetic sampling, and spatial data analysis to inform conservation and management. Using network analysis, I quantified range-wide genetic connectivity and identified hubs of genetic exchange, providing a way to prioritize populations for conservation. Using genetic mark recapture, I discovered long distance breeding dispersal in Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota, with special focus on sex-biased dispersal and patterns of movement among state-identified areas of conservation priority. Using Bayesian clustering algorithms, I determined spatial population structure and then used spatial analyses to identify potential landscape drivers of genetic population structure, and I quantified genetic population structure alignment with existing management boundaries. Using simulated populations, I tested the Bayesian clustering algorithm used to detect subpopulation structure in order to provide insight into the interpretation of the evolutionary history leading to subpopulation divergence. This project involved a collaboration with scientists from USGS, University of Montana, University of Waterloo, and biologists from state and federal agencies across eleven western states to collect over 16,000 feather samples. To accomplish this task, I trained and led a team of four laboratory technicians to catalogue, extract, and genotype over 8,000 samples. With their help, I constructed and maintained a spatial genetic database for 7,000 individual greater sage-grouse.
  • Laboratory Technician, Wildlife and Terrestrial Ecosystems – Wildlife Genetics Lab, Rocky Mountain Research Station, USDA Forest Service
    2010 - 2010
    This research laid the groundwork for my dissertation research. I extracted DNA from over 500 feather and blood samples from across Montana and into North Dakota, South Dakota, and southern Canada. I researched, selected, and optimized multi-primer amplification protocols for over 20 microsatellite loci. I created and maintained GIS spatial databases, which I used to develop a sampling protocol and to analyze population and landscape genetics. This project was in close collaboration with and the Montana and Dakotas Bureau of Land Management, Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, National Resources Conservation Service, The Nature Conservancy, The University of Montana, and The Wildlife Federation.

Featured Publications & Products


Research Highlights


Sage-grouse genetics

Unfortunately, greater sage-grouse are not as easy to find as they used to be. The birds’ population, once estimated at 16 million, is now bel ...


Last updated on : 07/12/2019