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Ecosystem Science and Management

College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Derek Scasta Rangeland Extension Specialist
Associate Professor
Rangeland Management, Plant-Herbivore Interactions Ecologist

Derek Scasta

I joined the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management in August of 2014 after completing my Ph.D. at Oklahoma State University.  My doctoral research program focused on how disturbances on rangelands (such as fire and drought) and management (such as stocking rate and timing of grazing) influence cattle distribution, parasites, plant community composition and structure, plant succession, shrub regeneration and production.  Before starting my Ph.D. program I worked for seven years as an Extension Educator in Texas conducting educational programming and applied research in rangeland monitoring, chemical weed and brush control, grazing management, prescribed fire, livestock production, soil salinity, and forage production.  My overarching interest for all activities is to bridge the gap between agriculture and conservation on rangelands.

Area(s) of expertise:

grazing management; dietary conflicts between livestock and wildlife; vegetation sampling; animal distribution; public/private lands issues; fire

Statement of Research and Extension Interests:

While my UW research is in the early stages of development, I perceive activities in three broadly focused areas:

  1. How livestock and wildlife interact in using the landscape to meet various resource needs.
  2. How climate influences vegetation succession and disturbance such as wildfire and the effects on livestock and wildlife.
  3. Range livestock production decisions associated with variable forage quality and quantity resources, topographical constraints, toxic plants, policy stipulations, parasites, and ecological concerns.

I am also heavily involved with extending research from the University of Wyoming to the people across the state.  While my Extension program is also in the early stages of development, I hope to work with livestock producers, employees of state and federal land management agencies (Wyoming Game and Fish, Wyoming Department of Agriculture, USDA, USFS, BLM, NPS, BIA, etc.), commodity groups (Wyoming Stock Growers Association, Wyoming Wool Growers Association, Wyoming Section for the Society for Range Management, etc.), and Extension Educators.  I will plan on addressing challenges associated with rangeland plant and animal interactions by linking people with sound research and science.


Society for Range Management (SRM), 2007-Present
  • Texas Section (TSSRM), 2007-2014
  • Oklahoma Section (OSSRM), 2011-2014
  • Wyoming Section (WSSRM), 2014-Present

Education and Certifications:

  • Ph.D.   Natural Resource Ecology and Management, Oklahoma State University (8/2014)
    Dissertation: Implications of pyric-herbivory on Central North American grassland ecology, management and production
    Advisor: Dr. Dave Engle
  • M.S.    Crop Science, Texas Tech University (12/2008)
    Thesis: Screening of alfalfa (Medicago sativa) cultivars for salt tolerance in west Texas
    Co-Advisors: Dr. Calvin Trostle and Dr. Mike Foster
  • B.S.     Rangeland Ecology and Management, Texas A&M University (5/2004)
    Option: Watershed management
  • Certified Professional in Rangeland Management (CPRM), Society for Range Management (2011 – Present) #CP11-002

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