Back to Directory

Luke Thomas Macaulay, Ph.D.

Wildlife Management Specialist

Wye Research and Education Center Queenstown, MD 21658

Dr. Luke Macaulay conducts applied research and extension (outreach and education) in wildlife management and conservation, with a focus on practical approaches to enhance wildlife habitat and mitigate wildlife problems in agricultural, forested and grassland/shrubland systems. He focuses heavily on recovery of the northern bobwhite quail in Maryland. He runs a monthly Land & Wildlife Speaker Series exploring a diversity of topics related to wildlife management, and shares educational content regularly on X @LukeRangeWalker, LinkedIn, and YouTube.

A native of Texas, he pursued an undergraduate degree in a Great Books program at the University of Notre Dame and earned a dual major in Spanish, which he speaks proficiently. He worked for the U.S. Department of Justice from 2002-2007, first in the Antitrust Division and advancing to the position of spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's Office in San Francisco. He returned to graduate school to earn a master's degree in range management (grazing lands) from the University of California, Berkeley, and continued on to earn his Ph.D. in rangeland & wildlife management.  Upon earning his Ph.D., he worked for several years as an Extension Specialist in Rangeland Planning & Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, until starting his current position with the University of Maryland Extension. In December 2023, the Natural Resources Extension Education Foundation elected Dr. Macaulay as a Trustee to their Board.

His research and extension program include three major themes:Maryland Land Cover (Adapted from 2020 USDA Cropland Data Layer)

Working Landscapes: Luke seeks to provide education and research about compatible win-win solutions for improving wildlife habitat in conjunction with agricultural and forestry practices. Forests comprise 33% Maryland land cover, agriculture 18%, and grassland/pasture/hay comprising 12%. These land covers make up 63% of Maryland's land area and provide important habitat for the state's wildlife and are key to successful conservation. Projects I work on include forest management for wildlife, grassland/meadow management for declining grassland birds, and both attracting and deterring wildlife in agricultural settings.

Figure of Maryland bird trends
Annual population trends of native Maryland birds by habitat from 1966 - 2019. Figure created by Patricia Guillen.  Source: North American Breeding Bird Survey. 

A particular area of focus is education and research for enhancing quality grassland, shrubland, and young forest habitat (i.e. early succession habitat) for the benefit of declining wildlife such as the northern bobwhite quail, ruffed grouse, eastern meadowlarks, native sparrows, woodcock, and pollinators. The North American Breeding Bird Survey shows these bird species have undergone the most significant declines by habitat type between 1966-2019 (see figure).

White-tailed Deer: Luke’s work involves the management of white-tailed deer populations, with a focus on better understanding deer behavior and preferences for warm-season and cool-season food plots and reducing damage in agricultural, forested, and suburban settings. A current focus includes determining the efficacy of forage soybeans as a buffer crop to divert deer from core agricultural production areas, which is funded by the Maryland and Delaware Soybean Boards.

Human Dimensions of Wildlife: Because over 92% of Maryland’s land is under private ownership, Luke’s program also seeks to better understand how farmers, foresters, and landowners interact with and manage their land for wildlife. His current work in this field involves conducting a landowner survey about wildlife management practices and is funded via a U.S. Department of Agriculture McIntire-Stennis Grant. He is also conducting a nationwide analysis of state policies related to wildlife management in partnership with the Property and Environment Research Center.

Luke mentors undergraduate, graduate students and postdoctoral scholars to support his outreach and research. His goal is to help provide his students with the skills that will make them attractive for future employment in the career they seek, including the fields of natural resource conservation & management; data science; GIS; marketing presentations, and extension; and an academic career.

Luke is an affiliate faculty in the Departments of Plant Science & Landscape Architecture, and Environmental Science and Technology. He is an FAA certified drone pilot utilizes aerial and thermal imagery to better understand wildlife populations and habitat. He has served on the editorial board of Rangeland Ecology & Management. He currently serves as the President of the Maryland-Delaware Chapter of The Wildlife Society.

Twitter: @lukerangewalker


Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley
M.S. University of California, Berkeley
B.A. University of Notre Dame


Macaulay, L. 2024. Recovering Northern Bobwhite Quail: A Guide to Habitat Management (FS-2023-0683). University of Maryland Extension.

Macaulay, L. "How States Shape Wildlife Conservation on Private Lands." Property and Environment Research Center (PERC), 26 June 2023.

Ratcliff, F., Rao, D., Barry, S., Dewees, S., Macaulay, L., Larsen, R., Shapero, M., Peterson, R., Moritz, M. and Forero, L., 2022. Cattle grazing reduces fuel and leads to more manageable fire behavior. California Agriculture, 76(2), pp.60-69.

Connor, T., Division, W., Tripp, E., Bean, W.T., Saxon, B.J., Camarena, J., Donahue, A., Sarna-Wojcicki, D., Macaulay, L., Tripp, W. and Brashares, J., 2022. Estimating Wildlife Density as a Function of Environmental Heterogeneity Using Unmarked Data. Remote Sensing, 14(5), p.1087.

Siegel, K.J., Macaulay, L., Shapero, M., Becchetti, T., Larson, S., Mashiri, F.E., Waks, L., Larsen, L. and Butsic, V., 2022. Impacts of livestock grazing on the probability of burning in wildfires vary by region and vegetation type in California. Journal of Environmental Management, 322, p.116092. (Download PDF)

Connor, T., Tripp, E., Tripp, B., Saxon, B.J., Camarena, J., Donahue, A., Sarna‐Wojcicki, D., Macaulay, L., Bean, T., Hanbury‐Brown, A. and Brashares, J., 2022. Karuk ecological fire management practices promote elk habitat in northern California. Journal of Applied Ecology.

Hanbury-Brown, A. R., Stackhouse, J. W., and Macaulay, L.T. 2021. Elk conflict with beef and dairy producers poses wildlife management challenges in northern California. Ecology and Society 26(1):23.

Reisman, E. & MacaulayL.T. 2021. Which farms drill during drought? The influence of farm size and crop type, International Journal of Water Resources Development. (Download PDF)

Yovovich, V., Allen, M.L., Macaulay, L.T. and Wilmers, C.C. 2020. Using spatial characteristics of apex carnivore communication and reproductive behaviors to predict responses to future human development. Biodiversity and Conservation. 29:2589–2603. (Download PDF)

Young, A., Macaulay, L.T., Larson, S., Van Eenennaam, A. Livestock Impact on Biodiversity. Population, Agriculture, and Biodiversity: Problems and Prospects, edited by J.P. Gustafson, P.H. Raven, P.R. Ehrlich, University of Missouri Press, 2020, pp. 305-337.

Hopkinson, P., Hammond, M., Bartolome, J. W., Macaulay, L.T. 2020. Using consecutive prescribed fires to reduce shrub encroachment in grassland by increasing shrub mortality. Restoration Ecology. (Download PDF)

Macaulay, L.T., Sollmann, R., Barrett, R. 2020. Estimating Deer Populations Using Camera Traps and Natural Marks. Journal of Wildlife Management. 84(2):301–310.

Bartolome, J.W., Brown, A., Hopkinson, P., Hammond, M., MacaulayL.T., and Ratcliff, F.  2019. Evaluating Prescribed Fire Effect on Medusa Head and Other Invasive Plants in Coastal Prairie at Point Pinole. Grasslands. Winter 2019 edition.

Macaulay, L., & Butsic, V. (2018). Who Owns California’s Cropland. ARE Update, 21(3). (Download PDF)

Macon, D., R. Baldwin, D. Lile, J. Stackhouse, C. Koopmann Rivers, T. Saitone, T. Schohr, L. Snell, J. Harper, R. Ingram, K. Rodrigues, L.T. Macaulay, L. Roche. 2018. Livestock Protection Tools for California Ranchers. UC Agriculture & Natural Resources Publication 8598.

Ratcliff, F., Bartolome, J., Macaulay, L.T., Spiegal, S., & White, M. D. 2018. Applying ecological site concepts and state-and-transition models to a grazed riparian rangeland. Ecology and Evolution.  (Download PDF)

Macaulay, L.T. & Butsic, V. 2017. Ownership characteristics and crop selection in California cropland. California Agriculture. 71(4):221-230. (Download PDF)

Shapero, M., Dobrovna, I., Macaulay, L.T. 2017.  Implications of changing spatial dynamics of irrigated pasture, California’s third largest agricultural water use. Science of the Total Environment 605–606: 445-453. (Download PDF)

Stackhouse, J.W., Giust, G., Macaulay, L.T. 2017. Game Species Management and Economics of Hunting Enterprises in California Grasslands. Grasslands.

Macaulay, L.T. 2016. The role of wildlife-associated recreation in private land use and conservation: Providing the missing baseline. Land Use Policy 58: 218–233. (Download PDF)

Macaulay, L.T. 2015. Pastured Pig Production in California Oak Woodlands: Lessons from the Spanish Dehesa. In: Outdoor Hog Production: Best Practices for Conservation in the San Francisco Bay Area. UC Cooperative Extension.

Macaulay, L.T. 2015. Proceedings of the 7th Oak Symposium. Evaluating Recreational Use as an Incentive for Habitat Conservation on Private Land in California. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-GTR-251. Berkeley, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station.

Huntsinger, L., Sayre, N., Macaulay, L.T. 2014. Ranchers, land tenure, and grass-roots governance: maintaining pastoralist use of rangelands in the U.S. in three different settings. In: Davies, J. (ed). The Governance of Rangeland: Collective Action for Sustainable Pastoralism. (Download PDF)

Macaulay, L.T., Starrs, P.F., Carranza, J. 2013. Hunting in Managed Oak Woodlands: Contrasts Among Similarities, in: Mediterranean Oak Woodland Working Landscapes. Springer, pp. 311–350. (Download PDF)