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Frank H. McCormick

Frank H McCormick

Research Program Manager

240 West Prospect Road
Fort Collins, CO 80526-2098
Contact Frank H. McCormick

Current Research

Evolution, ecology and conservation of freshwater fishes, Stressor-response relationships of stream fishes, Ecological effects of non-indigenous species Nutrient dynamics in small, headwater streams Land use effects on aquatic ecosystems

Research Interests

Fish ecology, stream ecosystem function, community structure responses to disturbance

Past Research

As a research ecologist with the US Environmental Protection Agency for 14 years, I conducted research on the effects of natural and anthropogenic disturbance on aquatic ecosystems and assessed the responses of biological indicators of water quality and physical habitat conditions. Among the problems I've addressed is the response of stream processes to watershed management.


  • University of Oklahoma, Ph.D., Systematics of the Etheostoma caeruleum species group with a description of four new species., 1991
  • Saint Louis University, M.S. Biology, Ecology of three species of darters (Percidae: Etheostomatini), 1982
  • Saint Louis University, B.S. Biology, Biology, ecology, evolutionary biology, 1979
  • Professional Experience

    Research Program Manager, USDA Forest ServiceRocky Mountain Research StationBoise, ID USA
    2009 to present

    I am the program manager for the Air, Water and Aquatics Science Program in the Rocky Mountain Research Station. Our program scientists and professionals conduct basic and applied research on the effects of natural processes and human activities on watershed resources including interactions between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. The knowledge we develop supports the management, conservation, and restoration of terrestrial, riparian and aquatic ecosystems and provides for sustainable clean air and water quality and delivery in the Interior West. I am a member of the Science Working Group of the Southern Rockies Landscape Conservation Cooperative and serve as a member of its Steering Committee. I am the representative for the Rocky Mountain Research Station to the Great Northern LCC. I also represent RMRS on the Interior Columbia Basin Deputy Team for its oversight of the program of work of the federal action agencies (Bureau of Land Management, NOAA Fisheries, USEPA, US Fish and Wildlife Service and US Forest Service) for implementation of the recommendations, standards and guidelines of the PacFish/InFish Biological Opinion (PIBO). The ICRB Deputy Team reviews the plan of work of the PIBO monitoring group (USFS Aquatic Ecology Unit), considers the recommendations of the PIBO team for modifications to monitoring protocols, reviews data management procedures and conducts outreach and oversight of the land management agencies in the Interior Columbia basin.
    Research Biologist, USDA Forest ServiceOffice of Research and DevelopmentEnvironmental Sciences ResearchWashington, D.C. USA
    2006 to 2009

    As a principle science advisor for aquatic sciences in Environmental Sciences Research, I provided technical support of synthesis and integration of research results and applications in my primary areas of expertise, including the fields of aquatic ecology, geomorphology, fisheries, and threatened and endangered species. I applied new science findings to the solution of critical and controversial problems, anticipate future needs, and influence agency policy. I served as a recognized expert in fish biology and aquatic ecology, providing leadership, scientific advice and consultation on solutions to critical problems in natural resource policy. I provided technical leadership and guidance in major subject matter or program areas and recommended priorities and strategies to USFS management in support of research programs and activities in aquatic resource management. I developed forecasts for long-range funding requirements, including the development of timetables for obtaining needed funding for new programs and initiatives; developed funding options for ongoing and planned programs and initiatives, including the formulation of budget estimates to be submitted to Congress and the OMB; and prepared responses to Congressional requests for budgetary data or other information pertaining to the organization's programs. I maintained liaisons with nationally recognized professional and scientific organizations on matters concerning the application of natural resource research. I worked with representatives of other federal and state agencies, tribal governments, universities, and other groups, including members of the public to communicate the long-range scientific goals and strategies of the organization. I supported three R&D Strategic Program Areas: I was the leader of the Wildlife and Fish Strategic Program Area, and was a member of the Invasive Species and Water, Air and Soils teams. I served as the USFS liaison to the National Atmospheric Deposition Program and worked with US Environmental Protection Agency Office of Research and Development leadership to develop interagency cooperation on water quality and environmental studies with USEPA and other agencies. I worked with USEPA s EMAP Great Rivers Ecosystems project performing data analysis, synthesis, and assessment. I served as an expert technical contact for USFS R&D to the Pacific Northwest Aquatic Monitoring Partnership as a member of the steering committee. I provided expert technical assistance on the development of site-specific selenium criteria for water quality on the Caribou-Targhee National Forest and worked in collaboration with the USFS Region 4 office to ensure that the best available science is used as a foundation for water quality standards. I cooperated with USEPA Region 10, USEPA ORD, and Idaho Department of Environmental Quality on all aspects of this process. I served on the Environmental Management System Vegetation Diversity task force developing agency compliance measures with ISO 14002.
    Supervisory Fish Biologist, Team Leader, USDA Forest ServicePacific Northwest Research StationOlympia, WA USA
    2004 to 2006

    I served as a principal advisor and liaison for the Aquatic and Land Interactions (ALI) Program Manager with National Forest System, Forest Service Research and Development, BLM, other federal and state agencies, public and private sector interests, universities, and professional groups within Washington, Oregon, and Alaska. I provided technical support for Research, Development, and Application leadership for synthesis and integration of research results and applications and implementation of the PNW Initiatives, Northwest Forest Plan, and Columbia River basin management.
    Research Ecologist, US Environmental Protection AgencyNational Exposure Research LaboratoryCincinnati, OH USA
    1991 to 2004

    I conducted independent and interdisciplinary research in aquatic ecology that corresponded with the agency mission of protecting the environment. Aligned with the Clean Water Act, my research became an integral part of the USEPA's Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program (EMAP). As the EMAP Fish Indicator Lead, I was responsible for conducting indicator development research for a national aquatic monitoring and assessment project. I designed sampling protocols for multiple biological indicators that became the standard methods of EMAP-SW Mid-Atlantic Highlands Assessment project and Regional-EMAP projects in EPA Regions V, VI, VII, VIII, and IX. As the developer of the protocols, I also provided training and supervision of field crews, reviewed field and laboratory data, organized and maintained database (including metadata), and conducted analyses of EMAP data for development of an index of biotic integrity to support assessment of stream conditions in the Mid-Atlantic Highlands. I served as a technical advisor and agency project officer for five USEPA Regional-EMAP Projects, USEPA's Ecological Indicators Workgroup, Regional Biocriteria Program, and Tiered Aquatic Life Use Advisory Committee; Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO) Biological Water Quality Committee and IBI Workgroup; and the Great Rivers Biocriteria Group, USEPA Office of Water, I assisted states, regions, USEPA and other organizations in the use of fish assemblages as indicators of ecological conditions in streams and rivers and the development of biological water quality criteria. Principal Investigator, Ecosystem processes and watershed stressors. Conducted research on impacts of forest management, fire and harvest histories on nutrient uptake lengths and stream metabolism. Principal Investigator on Non-indigenous aquatic species and ecosystem vulnerability in the Mid-Atlantic Region. USEPA Regional Vulnerability Assessment project. Conducted research in current status and extent of non-indigenous aquatic species (primarily fish) and identified characteristics of species' life histories that indicate their potential as successful invasive species. Developed tools to identify species and aquatic ecosystems at risk of invasion by non-indigenous species.

    Professional Organizations

    • American Fisheries Society, Member ( 1993 to present )
      American Fisheries Society - Threatened and Endangered Species Committee, Journal Review Boards: Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, North American Journal of Fisheries Management, Special Publications
    • American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, Member ( 1981 to present )
      Conservation Committee (Chair,1998 present; Member, 1994-present); Board of Governors (2001-2006); Resolutions Committee (1998-1999, 2012); Robert K. Johnson Award Committee (2006-2008; Chair 2008); Stoye Award Judge (1998); Committee on Graduate Student Participation (2010); Conservation Symposium Organizer: Salmon Conservation, Guelph, Ontario, Canada, 1998; Non-indigenous Species and Biodiversity of Native Species, Kansas City, MO, 2002;; Conservation Symposium: Biodiversity & Agriculture. Montreal, Quebec, Canada. 2009 Journal Review Boards: American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists (Copeia)
    • Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society, Member ( 1981 to present )
      Life member


    Certificate of Merit, 2013
    Superior performance as Program Manager for Air, Water and Aquatic Environments, RMRS
    Certificate of Merit, 2012
    Superior performance as Program Manager for Air, Water and Aquatic Environments, RMRS
    USEPA Science and Technology Achievement Award, 2011
    US EPA scientific excellence: "Development of a Novel Indicator of Ecosystem Function: Microbial Acquisition of Carbon, Nitrogen and Phosphorus"
    USEPA Science and Technology Achievement Award, 2011
    US EPA scientific excellence: "Identifying Mechanisms of Contaminant Bioaccumulation and Developing Indicators of Ecosystem Recovery"
    Certificate of Merit, 2011
    Superior performance as Program Manager for Air, Water and Aquatic Environments, RMRS
    USFS Certificate of Merit, 2009
    For outstanding performance as acting Program Manager for Air, Water and Aquatic Environments Science Program, RMRS.
    USFS Certificate of Merit, 2006
    For excellent work preparing USFS contribution to UN Desertification Report
    USEPA Bronze Medal for Commendable Service, 2004
    US Environmental Protection Agency national recognition for exemplary professionalism and commitment in issuing an NPDES permit for the Washington (DC) Aqueduct.
    USEPA Bronze Medal for Commendable Service, 2004
    US Environmental Protection Agency national recognition for exemplary professionalism and commitment in issuing an NPDES permit for the Washington (DC) Aqueduct.
    USEPA Science and Technology Achievement Award, 2004
    US Environmental Protection Agency scientific excellence award for publication "Contamination of fish in streams of the Mid-Atlantic Region: an approach to regional indicator selection and wildlife assessment."
    USEPA Bronze Medal for Commendable Service, 2002
    US Environmental Protection Agency national recognition for outstanding accomplishments in environmental monitoring and assessment.
    USEPA Science and Technology Achievement Award, 2002
    US Environmental Protection Agency scientific excellence award for publication "Development of an Index of Biotic Integrity for the Mid-Atlantic Highlands Region."
    USEPA Science and Technology Achievement Award, 2000
    US Environmental Protection Agency scientific excellence award for publications "Comparison of geographic classification schemes for Mid-Atlantic stream fish assemblages." "Use of periphyton assemblage data as an Index of Biotic Integrity."
    USEPA Science and Technology Achievement Award, 1997
    US Environmental Protection Agency scientific excellence award for publication "The effects of elevated metals on benthic community metabolism in a Rocky Mountain stream."

    Featured Publications


    Shively, Dan; Rothlisberger, John D.; Gillespie, Nathaniel; Dombeck, Mike; Moore, Virgil; Roghair, Craig; Demario, Devin; McCormick, Frank H.; Weldon, Leslie, 2018. Historical Perspectives and a New U.S. Forest Service Strategy for Fish and Aquatic Stewardship
    Lazorchak, James M.; Griffith, Michael B.; Mills, Marc; Schubauer-Berigan, Joseph; McCormick, Frank H.; Brenner, Richard; Zeller, Craig, 2015. Proof of concept for the use of macroinvertebrates as indicators of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) contamination in Lake Hartwell
    Jelks, Howard L.; Walsh, Stephen J.; Burkhead, Noel M.; Contreras-Balderas, Salvador; Díaz-Pardo, Edmundo; Hendrickson, Dean A.; Lyons, John; Mandrak, Nicholas E.; McCormick, Frank H.; Nelson, Joseph S.; Platania, Steven P.; Porter, Brady A.; Renaud, Claude B.; Schmitter-Soto, Juan Jacobo; Taylor, Eric B.; Warren, Melvin L. Jr., 2008. Conservation status of imperiled North American freshwater and diadromous fishes
    Waits, Eric R.; Bagley, Mark J.; Blum, Michael J.; McCormick, Frank H.; Lazorchak, James M., 2008. Source-sink dynamics sustain central stonerollers (Campostoma anomalum) in a heavily urbanized catchment
    Wildland fires in the arid west create a cause for concern for many inhabitants and an area of interest for researchers. Wildfires dramatically change watersheds, yielding floods and debris flows that endanger water supplies, human lives, and valuable fish habitats.