Penn State webinar to focus on ways Marcellus drilling affects wildlife


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — As the Marcellus natural gas boom has reverberated around Pennsylvania, residents and scientists alike have expressed concern about the impact extensive drilling and associated infrastructure development is having on wildlife habitat.

A Web-based seminar presented Aug. 25 by Penn State Extension will offer a look at the latest information on the subject.

“A Research Update on the Effects of Marcellus Shale Drilling on Wildlife Habitat,” the one-hour online session will take place at 1 p.m. Aug. 25.

The webinar will cover landscape and habitat changes associated with Marcellus Shale exploration and development, and how that may affect Pennsylvania wildlife and wildlife-associated recreation.

There have been more than 2,350 wells drilled into the deep Marcellus formation under Pennsylvania in the last few years, primarily in the southwest, northeast and northcentral regions.

Impact on habitat

Presenter Margaret Brittingham, professor of wildlife resources in the College of Agricultural Sciences, will discuss research recently have completed on shallow wells and give an overview of a current research project, which is looking at the effects of Marcellus Shale gas exploration and development on wildlife habitat in general and forest songbirds in particular.

Pennsylvania contains internationally important breeding habitat for a number of neotropical migrant songbirds that — if degraded — would affect world populations, Brittingham noted. And much of the extensive gas development is occurring in the state’s northern tier, where some of the densest forests in North America provide ecologically vital bird habitat.

However, that new research is in its early phase, Brittingham explained.

Part of series

The webinar is part of a series of online workshops addressing opportunities and challenges related to the state’s Marcellus Shale gas boom.

Information about how to register for the session is available on the webinar page of Penn State Extension’s natural-gas website at

Legal webinar on tap

A webinar at 1 p.m. on September 15 will focus on current legal issues in shale-gas development.

Previous webinars, publications and information on topics such as air pollution from gas development; the gas boom’s effect on landfills; water use and quality; zoning; gas-leasing considerations for landowners; implications for local communities; and gas pipelines and right-of-way issues also are available on the Penn State Extension natural-gas website (

For more information about the webinar, contact John Turack, extension educator in Westmoreland County, at 724-837-1402 or by e-mail at

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