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Dr. Antoinette J. Piaggio

Dr. Antoinette J. Piaggio,
Research Molecular Biologist


Dr Antoinette J. Piaggio is employed by the USDA APHIS Wildlife Services, National Wildlife Research Center (NWRC) in Fort Collins, CO. Her research studies focus on developing genetic approaches to inform wildlife damage management efforts. Population-level investigations can determine geographical boundaries of populations, gene flow between populations (population connectivity), and genetic diversity within populations. Phylogenetic studies can test hypotheses of taxonomic definitions and evolutionary relationships. Research data gathered in any of these areas can enhance effectiveness of management efforts. Because wildlife genetics data can elucidate population dynamics in host populations, photo of Dr. Piaggio with vampire batthey also may be useful in the management of wildlife diseases.

Through her work, continuing education, and professional contacts, Dr. Piaggio stays current with the latest developments in her field, ensuring that the NWRC wildlife genetics lab will always be a leader in the use of exciting, cutting-edge tools and techniques and the application of robust scientific methods for the investigation of wildlife-human conflicts. Lab results will allow wildlife managers not only to use the best genetic tools available but also to maintain genetic diversity and evolutionary potential of the wildlife species under investigation.

Current Research

  • Investigation population connectivity of Columbia white-tailed deer in Oregon
  • Aiding WS Operations wolf investigations through the application of a canid genetics database to identify wolf hybrids (wolf/dog or wolf/coyote)
  • Examining population genetics of raccoons in areas of rabies outbreaks
  • Sequencing avian influenza samples to infer an avian influenza phylogeny for the United States
  • Conducting genetic analyses of rats that invade islands
  • Comparing vampire bat population dynamics in areas where rabies is prevalent and in areas where rabies is uncommon
  • Conducting genetic analyses of Mexican wolves, mountain beaver, and beavers


Products/Techniques Developed or Tested

  • Forensic investigations
  • Species identification from fecal, hair, saliva, etc.
  • Individual animal identification from fecal, hair, saliva, etc.
  • Microsatellite marker development for multiple species
  • Population genetics studies
  • Phylogenetic studies


  • Ph.D., University of Colorado Boulder, CO
  • M.S., San Francisco State University SF, CA
  • B.A. Mills College, Oakland CA

International Experience

  • Mexico (vampire bats)
  • China (Avian Influenza)


Selected Publications

Damm, D.L., J.B. Armstrong, W.M. Arjo, and A.J. Piaggio. 2015. Assessment of population structure of coyotes in East-Central Alabama using microsatellite DNA. Southeastern Naturalist 14(1):106-122.  doi: 10.1656/058.014.0118

Hopken, M.W., T.M. Lum, P.M. Meyers, and A.J. Piaggio. 2015. Molecular assessment of translocation and management of an endangered subspecies of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus). Conservation Genetics 16:635-647.  doi: 10.1007/s10592-014-0689-6

Lewicki, K.E., K.P. Huyvaert, A.J. Piaggio, L.V. Diller, and  A.B. Franklin. 2015. Effects of barred owl (Strix varia) range expansion on Haemoproteus parasite assemblage dynamics and transmission in barred and northern spotted owls (Strix occidentalis caurina). Biological Invasions 17(6):1713-1727.  doi: 10.1007/s10530-014-0828-5

Herman, J.A., A.J. Piaggio, N.D. Halbert, J.C. Rhyan, and M.D. Salman. 2014. Genetic analysis of a bison (Bison bison) herd derived from the Yellowstone National Park population. Wildlife Biology 20(6):335-343.  doi: 10.2981/slb.00051.

Pedersen, K., C.R. Quance, S. Robbe-Austerman, A.J. Piaggio, S.N. Bevins, S.M. Goldstein, W.D. Gaston, and T.J. DeLiberto. 2014. Identification of Brucella suis from feral swine in selected states in the USA. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 50(2): 171-179. doi: 10.7589/2013-09-235.

Piaggio, A.J., R.M. Engeman, M.W. Hopken, J.S. Humphrey, K.L. Keacher, W.E. Bruce, and M.L. Avery. 2014. Detecting an elusive invasive species: a diagnostic PCR to detect Burmese python in Florida waters and an assessment of persistence of environmental DNA. Molecular Ecology Resources, 14: 374–380. doi: 10.1111/1755-0998.12180.

Piaggio, A. J., B. A. Coghlan, A. E. Miscampbell, W. M. Arjo, D. B. Ransome, and C. E. Ritland. 2013. Molecular phylogeny of an ancient rodent family (Aplodontiidae). Journal of Mammalogy 94:529-543.

Root, J.J., M.W. Hopken, T. Gidlewski, A.J. Piaggio. 2013. Cottontail rabbit papillomavirus infection in a desert cottontail (Sylvilagus audubonii) from Colorado, USA. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 49(4): 1060-1062. doi: 10.7589/2013-02-033.

Contact Information

Information on NWRC Genetics Research and Publications