David McCullough

Professor of Biology

More about David McCullough

Director, Center for Integrative and Interdisciplinary Studies
Co-coordinator, Environmental Science and Studies
Dr. Myrle Burk and Vera Burk Will Endowed Chair in Environmental and Interdisciplinary Studies

B.A., 1982, University of Dallas
M.S., 1985, Ph.D., 1991, Texas Tech University

Director of the Center for Integrative and Interdisciplinary Studies (CIIS)
My role as director is to purposely facilitate and enhance integrative and interdisciplinary learning at Wartburg College. Today’s fast-paced and dynamic world demands a talented workforce adept in critical-thinking skills, effective communication of ideas, and ability to use tools and concepts from many disciplines in order to address and solve complex problems as well as generate novel ideas that allow for successful ventures far into the future. Studies have well documented the value of an integrative and interdisciplinary approach to learning in preparing students for success after college. The role of the CIIS and its programs confirms the mission of the college in supporting its students in the pursuit of deep and integrative learning.

Dr. Myrle Burk and Vera Burk Will Endowed Chair in Environmental and Interdisciplinary Studies
The Burk-Will Chair supports environmental and natural resource studies and initiatives at Wartburg College as well as being a supporter and advocate for interdisciplinary studies.

Research Interests
Currently I am involved with assessment of public lands both rural and urban (including those mitigated for development projects) for their ability to support stable vertebrate populations. Often public lands serve as multi-use recreation areas and thus their management can drastically impact natural populations of organisms. This is particularly true for species sensitive to perturbation. Conversely, these public parks and reserves are often times the only adequate habitat for miles around in a severely fragmented ecosystem. Thus, assessment of the role they play in maintaining native populations is critical in our understanding the ecology of such areas and the role they play in modern ecosystems. In urban areas the emphasis is an examination of the effects intensely managed urban greenspaces can have on populations of mammals living on or adjacent to them. In many urban and suburban areas, golf courses, along with public parks, greenbelts and corporate lawns, provide the only remaining large green spaces available to endemic and migratory wildlife. As such, an understanding of their ecology and how it is managed should provide us with information as to their importance as refugia within regions of declining natural habitat. Current projects involve examining the presence and habitat requirements of mesopredators in urban settings.
A corollary to this are collaborative research projects with the U.S. Forest Service and State of Minnesota which examined, respectively, the success of restoration of native conifers in national forest land in northern Minnesota and the effect of woody debris on maintaining sediment within stream systems in south-central Minnesota. I continue to have strong interest in the areas of evolutionary and conservation genetics. By using molecular approaches to answer genetic questions, I hope to broaden our knowledge of the evolutionary history and genetic structure of natural populations.
Recent projects have examined genetic variation within and between populations of three organisms: the isolated Bailey’s Woodrat populations in N. Central Nebraska, a population of a threatened rattlesnake (Eastern Massauga), one of perhaps only two remaining populations in Iowa and populations of a native invasive, the Rusty Crayfish, recently introduced into the NE Iowa watershed.

Advising Expertise
Environmental Science and Studies
Physician Assistant

Courses Taught
BI 151 Ecosystems, Cells and Evolution
BI 204 Conservation of Natural Resources
BI 207 Vertebrate Ecology of the Prairie (May Term)
BI 211 Genetics
BI 315 Ornithology (May Term)
BI 455 Methods of Biological Research
BI 456 Student Research
ENV 100 Explorations in Environmental Science and Studies
ENV 460 Perspectives in Environmental Science and Studies; Capstone
ID-305 Humanity and the Environment