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Mark Pokras

Mark Pokras
Associate Professor Emeritus
Wildlife Clinic & Center for Conservation Medicine



Mark Pokras is one of the old timers at the Clinic, having been a veterinary student at tufts from 1980-84, a resident in zoo and wildlife medicine (under Dr. Charles Sedgwick, the Clinic's first director) from 1985-87, a faculty member since 1988, and Clinic Director from 1995 - 2008. Mark is also one of the founders of Tufts TCCM. Mark grew up in New York, New Jersey, New England, Mexico and Venezuela, and did his undergraduate work at Cornell University. Next he (and wife Martha) worked in marine biological research from 1971-1974, and then taught ornithology and marine biology at Stockton State College in New Jersey until Mark entered TCSVM. He regularly consults for a variety of private, state and federal wildlife and environmental agencies on issues of environmental health and policy. Mark's professional interests include working with students, medicine and surgery of native wildlife (especially birds and reptiles), aquatic birds and environmental health, allometric scaling and conservation biology. He has been doing mortatilty research on loons since 1987 and is widely recognized for his work on lead poisoning. Mark enjoys spending time with his wife and two daughters, a variety of outdoor activities, and playing music.


  • Residency in Zoo & Wildlife Medicine - 1985 - 1988 
  • DVM - Tufts University - 1984
  • BS - Cornell Universtiy - 1971
  1. Kneeland, M.R., Spagnuolo, V.A., Evers, D.C., Paruk, J.D., Attix, L., Schoch, N., Pokras, M.A., Stout, V., Dalton, A., Silber, K. 2020. A novel method for captive rearing and translocation of juvenile common loons. Zoo Biology.
  2. Grade, T., Campbell, P., Cooley, T., Kneeland, M., Leslie, E., MacDonald, B., Melotti, J., Okoniewski, J., Parmley, E.J., Perry, C., Vogel, H., Pokras, M. 2019. Lead poisoning from ingestion of fishing gear: A review. Ambio.
  3. Specht, A.J., Kirchner, K.E., Weisskopf, M.G., Pokras, M.A. 2019. Lead exposure biomarkers in the Common Loon. Science of the Total Environment.
  4. Mordarski, D.C., Leibler, J.H., Talmadge, C.C., Wolfus, G.M., Pokras, M.A., Rosenbaum, M.H. 2018. Subclinical lead exposure among backyard chicken flocks in Massachusetts. Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery.
  5. Grade, T.J., Pokras, M.A., Laflamme, E.M., Vogel, H.S. 2018. Population-level effects of lead fishing tackle on common loons. Journal of Wildlife Management.
  6. Martinsen, E.S., Sidor, I.F., Flint, S., Cooley, J., Pokras, M.A. 2017. Documentation of malaria parasite (Plasmodium spp.) infection and associated mortality in a Common Loon (Gavia immer). Journal of Wildlife Diseases.
  7. Franceschini, M.D., Evers, D.C., Kenow, K.P., Meyer, M.W., Pokras, M., Romero, L.M. 2017. Mercury correlates with altered corticosterone but not testosterone or estradiol concentrations in common loons. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety.
  8. Muthupalani, S., Torres, P.A., Wang, B.C., Zeng, B.J., Eaton, S., Erdelyi, I., Ducore, R., Maganti, R., Keating, J., Perry, B.J., Tseng, F.S., Waliszewski, N., Pokras, M., Causey, R., Seger, R., March, P., Tidwell, A., Pfannl, R., Seyfried, T., Kolodny, E.H., Alroy, J. 2014. GM1-gangliosidosis in American black bears: Clinical, pathological, biochemical and molecular genetic characterization. Molecular Genetics and Metabolism.
  9. Kornetsky, R., Rock, M., Pokras, M. 2013. A rapid postmortem screening test for lead toxicosis in common loons (Gavia immer) and bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus). Journal of Wildlife Diseases.
  10. Bellinger, D.C., Burger, J., Cade, T.J., Cory-Slechta, D.A., Finkelstein, M., Hu, H., Kosnett, M., Landrigan, P.J., Lanphear, B., Pokras, M.A., Redig, P.T., Rideout, B.A., Silbergeld, E., Wright, R., Smith, D.R. 2013. Health risks from lead-based ammunition in the environment. Environmental Health Perspectives.
  11. Martinez, J., Pokras, M.A. 2010. What is your diagnosis?. Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery.
  12. Fiorello, C.V., Nisbet, I.C.T., Hatch, J.J., Corsiglia, C., Pokras, M.A. 2009. Hematology and absence of hemoparasites in breeding common terns (Sterna Hi Run Do) from cape cod, Massachusetts. Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine.
  13. Pokras, M., Kneeland, M., Ludi, A., Golden, E., Major, A., Miconi, R., Poppenga, R.H. 2009. Lead objects ingested by common loons in New England. Northeastern Naturalist.
  14. Pokras, M.A., Kneeland, M.R. 2008. Lead poisoning: Using transdisciplinary approaches to solve an ancient problem. EcoHealth.
  15. Evers, D.C., Savoy, L.J., Desorbo, C.R., Yates, D.E., Hanson, W., Taylor, K.M., Siegel, L.S., Cooley Jr., J.H., Bank, M.S., Major, A., Munney, K., Mower, B.F., Vogel, H.S., Schoch, N., Pokras, M., Goodale, M.W., Fair, J. 2008. Adverse effects from environmental mercury loads on breeding common loons. Ecotoxicology.
  16. Mayer, J., Kaufman, G., Pokras, M. 2006. Allometric Scaling. Reptile Medicine and Surgery.
  17. Bogomolni, A., Ellis, J., Gast, R., Harris, B., Pokras, M., Touhey, K., Moore, M. 2006. Emerging zoonoses in marine mammals and seabirds of the Northeast U.S.. OCEANS 2006.
  18. Harris, R.J., Tseng, F.S., Pokras, M.A., Suedmeyer, B.A., Bogart, J.S.H., Prescott, R.L., Newman, S.H. 2006. Beached bird surveys in Massachusetts: The seabird ecological assessment network (SEANET). Marine Ornithology.
  19. Haefele, H.J., Sidor, I., Evers, D.C., Hoyt, D.E., Pokras, M.A. 2005. Hematologic and physiologic reference ranges for free-ranging adult and young common loons (Gavia immer). Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine.
  20. Pierce, K.E., Harris, R.J., Larned, L.S., Pokras, M.A. 2004. Obstruction and starvation associated with plastic ingestion in a Northern Gannet Morus bassanus and a Greater Shearwater Puffinus gravis. Marine Ornithology.

General Research Interests

  • Functional and surgical anatomy of birds and reptiles.
  • Environmental pathology (including toxicology) of wildlife species.
  • Captive management of aquatic reptiles, birds and mammals.
  • Allometric scaling as a tool for understanding comparative clinical medicine.
  • Development of minimally invasive field techniques for wildlife health studies.

Selected Research Projects

  • Lead (Pb) toxicosis in wildlife and public health.
  • Seanet -- threats to aquatic birds.
  • WebAtlas of Wildlife Anatomy & Pathology.
  • Surveys of vernal pools and other campus resources.
  • Presence of antibiotic resistant organisms in native wildlife.

Other campus activities

  • Sponsor a variety of student projects & selectives.
  • Host “Open Mike” nights on campus.
  • Advise student WAZE group (Wildlife, Aquatics, Zoo & Exotics).
  • Lead campus & regional nature walks.