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Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources

University of Wyoming

Bim Kendall House

804 E Fremont St

Laramie, WY 82072

Phone: (307) 766-5080

Fax: (307) 766-5099

Email: haub.school@uwyo.edu

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Research

The Haub School is home to a diverse faculty undertaking novel approaches to environmental and natural resource questions in a range of fields. New knowledge and understanding generated at the Haub School supports sound decision making for the future.

Below is a small sample of some current and recent research at the Haub School.


Mule Deer and Energy Development Research Brief, 2017, brief cover

Research Brief: Mule Deer and Energy Development

Nicole Korfanta, director of the Ruckelshaus Institute, and Kevin Monteith, assistant professor of natural resource science in the Haub School, were members of a research team investigating the long-term impacts of energy development on mule deer in the Upper Green River Basin of western Wyoming. The team was headed by ecologist Hall Sawyer of Western EcoSystems Technology, (WEST) Inc., along with Ryan Nielson and Dale Strickland, also from WEST. The researchers used telemetry data from 184 deer across a 17-year period to determine whether deer habituated to energy development and if their response varied with winter severity. Results of the study found that mule deer did not habituate to gas development, and the population declined by 36 percent despite aggressive on-site mitigation efforts and a 45 percent reduction in deer harvest. The study, "Mule Deer and Energy Development–Long-term Trends of Habituation and Abundance" appears in the October 2017 issue of the journal Global Change Biology and may hold implications for energy development planning on federal lands.

Download the print version: Mule Deer and Energy Development Research Brief

View the research brief online: Mule Deer and Energy Development Interactive Version

Read the journal article: Mule Deer and Energy Development in Global Change Biology


Fish Creek Water Quality Legal Analysis, 2017, report cover

Fish Creek Water Quality Legal Analysis

Temple Stoellinger, assistant professor in the Haub School and co-director of the Center for Law and Energy Resources in the Rockies, worked with University of Wyoming College of Law students Micah Christensen and Conner Nicklas to conduct a legal analysis of water quality issues affecting Fish Creek, a tributary to the Snake River in Teton County, Wyoming. This project was a response to concerns from community members and local government officials over higher than normal nutrient concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus. The authors examined legal questions surrounding septic tank regulation authority, local regulations, golf course chemical use, setbacks, and manure management, among others. The analysis is published here for public consumption and was also shared with stakeholders in Teton County to inform their future efforts to address nutrient loading in Fish Creek.

Download the report: Fish Creek Water Quality Legal Analysis


Economic Impact to Wyoming's Economy from a Potential Listing of the Sage Grouse

Economic Impact to Wyoming from Sage Grouse Conservation

Temple Stoellinger, assistant professor in the Haub School and co-director of the Center for Law and Energy Resources in the Rockies, and Tex Taylor, professor in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, conducted a economic analysis to estimate the economic impact to the state from three different levels of sage grouse conservation. They assessed 1) the baseline contributions to Wyoming’s economy from activities on sage grouse habitat including oil and gas development, wind energy development, and livestock grazing; 2) the amount by which those contributions would be reduced under the requirements of the Wyoming Core Area Strategy and the recently released federal land use plan amendments; and 3) the reduction to economic contributions from sage grouse habitat in Wyoming were the sage grouse to be listed as an endangered species.

They concluded that, while the state-led Wyoming Core Area Strategy does reduce the economic output from lands qualifying as sage grouse habitat, those reductions are much less than would result from the bird being listed as an endangered species. The publication also provides a thorough overview of the status of the sage grouse as a species and the procedural/legal history of sage grouse conservation starting with the first petition to list the bird as an endangered species from January 2002.

Download the report: Economic Impact to Wyoming’s Economy From A Potential Listing of the Sage Grouse


Fertilizing Western Rangelands for Ungulate Conservation

Fertilizing Western Rangelands for Ungulate Conservation

Indy Burke, former Haub School director, and Nicole Korfanta, Ruckelshaus Institute director, authored a Wildlife Society Bulletin paper with implications for habitat management in Wyoming. To offset habitat loss from energy development, wildlife managers are experimenting with large-scale sagebrush fertilization on western public rangelands. The authors synthesized what is known about basic sagebrush ecosystem biogeochemistry and ungulate nutritional ecology to assess the benefits and risks of this emerging mitigation tool. They concluded that potential ecosystem risks of excess nitrogen outweigh the benefits of fertilization, which are generally minimal and expensive to achieve.

View the paper: Fertilizing Western Rangelands for Ungulate Conservation


Deforestation Effects on Bird Communities in Tanzania

Deforestation Effects on Bird Communities in Tanzania

This long-running project assesses the effects of tropical deforestation on understory bird populations of the Usambara Mountains in Tanzania. Current work focuses on reserve design to improve avian survival and reproductive success to sustain populations into the future. Nicole Korfanta, Ruckelshaus Institute director, is a principle investigator for this project along with William Newmark, a research associate and conservation biologist in the Natural History Museum of Utah, and Matthew Kauffman, leader of the Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Unit at the University of Wyoming. Jo Albers, Knobloch Chair in Conservation Economics and Finance, is exploring the socioeconomic impacts of conservation planning for this study. 


Tamarisk

(Photo: Flickr user Rocor)

Computational Sustainability in Optimal Spatial-Dynamic Management of Invasive Species

This NSF-funded project applies cutting-edge computer programming techniques to a bioeconomic framework to inform the optimal management of a landsape facing an invasive species. The spatial and temporal behavior of invasive species spread implies that optimal management strategies involve decisions over space and time. Dispersal and propagule pressure are two primary drivers of the spatial-temporal ecological process of species invasion. In the case of riparian communities, stream flow drives the dispersal of vegetation propagules. This research incorporates an ecological model of species competition and spread through a river network over time⎯with stochasticity in dispersal, death, and establishment success⎯into a dynamic economic decision framework to determine the optimal spatial and temporal pattern of invasive species management efforts. The optimization model employs a Markov Decision Process (MDP) solved using numerical methods. The decision framework developed improves on current economic models by modeling ecological processes of invasion in an explicitly spatial setting with stochasticity to better inform the allocation of management resources. Other advances include the use of restoration as a management tool and explicit modeling of the state of uninvaded areas. The model is parameterized to simulate the spread and management of the riparian invasive shrub, Tamarix sp., and optimal policies are applied to Monte Carlo simulations over twenty years. Results show that simplifications of the ecology common in the economics literature that ignore low probability dispersal events and other ecological characteristics of invasion lead to costly management mistakes. Overall, the integration of key ecological characteristics into a stochastic, spatial-dynamic economic optimization considering the state of the entire river network avoids large errors in the choice of management tool, its location, and its timing that simpler frameworks prescribe. The Haub School's Jo Albers is an investigator for this study.

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Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources

University of Wyoming

Bim Kendall House

804 E Fremont St

Laramie, WY 82072

Phone: (307) 766-5080

Fax: (307) 766-5099

Email: haub.school@uwyo.edu

Find us on Facebook (Link opens a new window) Find us on Twitter (Link opens a new window)

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