Robin Foster


Wilkeson Quad

Geography-Evolution, Ecology, Behavior Program
robinfos at buffalo edu

Research interests

Conservation Biology, Population Genetics, Aquatic Ecology

Personal statement

I am a life-long native of Western New York and am passionate about conserving local wildlife and habitats.  I have a diverse background, with BA degrees in both elementary education/English and biology.  As an undergraduate, I conducted honors research developing genetic markers for the study of Bald Eagles and Belted Kingfishers.  In 2006, I completed my MA at Buffalo State, studying the population trends of a declining species of salamander – the Eastern Hellbender.   Since that time, I have continued my involvement with hellbender conservation as part of the New York State Hellbender Recovery Team.  I also spent several years as the coordinator of a local environmental education program through Audubon New York, teaching elementary school children about conservation and environmental science through the study of birds.

I am excited to be continuing my research on Eastern Hellbenders as a PhD student in the ERIE program.  I am interested in examining the factors affecting this species’ distribution in New York and prioritizing the many threats that need to addressed for hellbender conservation.  This is a multidisciplinary endeavor, as hellbenders may be affected by a variety of factors, including chemical contaminants, sedimentation, stream alteration, riparian deforestation, and direct action by humans.  My methods involve a combination of ecological field surveys, historical ecology, population genetics, and species distribution modeling.  In addition, I hope to put my education background to use for hellbender conservation by developing an educational outreach program to support current conservation efforts for New York State’s hellbenders.


  • BA Elementary Education/English Concentration (Canisius College 1996)

  • BA Biology (Buffalo State College 2004)

  • MA Biology (Buffalo State College 2006)



Foster, R.L., A.M. McMillan, and K. Roblee. 2009.  Population status of hellbender salamanders (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis) in the Allegheny River drainage of New York State.  Journal of Herpetology.  43(4): 579-588.
Foster, R.L., A.M. McMillan, A.R. Breisch, K. Roblee, and D. Schranz. 2008. Analysis and comparison of three capture methods for the eastern hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis). Herpetological Review 39(2): 181-186.


Foster, R.L. and P. Musk. 2010. For the Birds! NIAGARA: An Innovative Approach to Environmental Education.  North American Association for Environmental Education, Buffalo, NY.

Foster, R.L., A.M. McMillan, and K. Roblee. 2007. Population Decline of the Hellbender Salamander.  Western New York Science and Technology Forum, Horizons of the Sciences, U. at Buffalo, Dept. of Chemistry.

Foster, R.L., K. Roblee, and A.M. McMillan. 2007. Population trends of the eastern hellbender in the Allegheny River drainage.  Hellbender Symposium, Wheeling, WV.

Foster, R.L., K. Roblee, and A.M. McMillan. 2006. Population trends of the eastern hellbender in the Allegheny River drainage.  Allegheny Biodiversity Symposium, Ellicotville, NY.

Foster, R., A.M. McMillan, and K. Roblee (poster). 2006. Population trends and genetic diversity of the eastern hellbender salamander in the Allegheny River drainage. Society for the Study of Evolution, Stony Brook, NY.

Foster, R., K. Roblee, and A. McMillan (poster). 2005. Preliminary analysis of hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis) demographics in the Allegheny River drainage.  Great Lakes Consortium, Syracuse, NY.