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Program in Ecology

Transdisciplinary Program

Debbie Swierczek

Program Coordinator

Office of Graduate Education

Old Main 310

Phone: 307-766-4128

Email: ecology@uwyo.edu

University of Wyoming Program in Ecology
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Program in Ecology Students

Students in Program in Ecology study a diverse set of ecological questions, ranging in scale from DNA and microbes to plant and vertebrate systematics, to landscape ecology and everything in between.  All PhD students in Program in Ecology also belong to a home department.

>>Apply to the Program in Ecology

A-D     E-H     I-L     M-P     Q-T     U-Z

 


Rachel Arrick

Advisor: Melanie Murphy & Doug KeinathRachel Arrick

Home Department: Ecosystem Science and Management

Broadly, I’m interested in conducting research to better inform current conservation and management practices for sensitive taxa, particularly amphibians. My PhD research is focused on learning more about habitat use, survival, disease ecology, and the community changes in the microbiome of the endangered Wyoming toad after release from captivity.

 

 

 


Joshua Ajowele

Advisor: Kevin WilcoxJoshua Ajowele

Home Department: Ecosystem Science and Management

Fire and grazing interaction can be manipulated to create spatial and temporal heterogeneity in vegetation structure and composition. My research is focused on how heterogeneity in the landscape due to fire and grazing interaction shapes ecosystem functions in tallgrass prairie. Specifically, I will be looking at the effects on carbon cycling, above and below ground net primary productivity as well as species diversity

 

 

 


Dave Atkins

Program in Ecology student Dave Atkins

Advisor: Daniel Laughlin

Home Department: Botany

My research is focused on the effects that functional traits have on demographic fitness in perennial graminoid species. I investigate how inter- and intra-specific variations in key function traits related to drought tolerance and plant energy economics affect vital rates in plant populations. These variations reflect different life history strategies and ultimately differences in demographic fitness observed along environmental gradients.

 

 

 


Lauren Azevedo-Schmidt

Advisor: Ellen CurranoLauren Azevedo-Schmidt

Home Department: Botany

I study plant and insect interactions using leaf pseudofossils (leaves deposited in sediment) from modern temperate and tropical ecosystems. By studying pseudofossil assemblages we can better understand how leaves are preserved in the fossil record and aid in our calibration of the fossil record. Understanding fossil assemblages more clearly can allows us to better interpret how modern climate change will influence our plant and insect communities.

Visit Lauren's website for more about her research.

  

 


Jeff Baldock

Program in Ecology student Jeff BaldockAdvisor: Annika Walters

Home Department: Zoology & Physiology

I am interested in the linkages between habitat heterogeneity, life history, and metapopulation stability. My dissertation is focused on understanding the role of spring-fed streams to Yellowstone cutthroat trout. I use observational field studies, genomic techniques, and statistical models to understand individual behavior and population dynamics and demographics across riverscapes. Through my research I aim to provide resources managers with a mechanistic understanding of the benefits of alternative conservation strategies.

Visit Jeff's website for more about his research.

 

 


Christine Bell

Christine BellAdvisor: Lusha Tronstad

Home Department: Zoology & Physiology

My research is focused on native bees in Wyoming. I'm gathering baseline data for the status of bumble bee species in the state, particularly for declining species and species that have been petitioned for listing under the US Endangered Species Act. My research will focus on habitat and occupancy modeling for these bumble bee species as well as internal parasite analysis. I'm also interested in developing evidence-based monitoring protocols for all native bee species.

 


Erin BentleyProgram in Ecology student Erin Bentley

Advisor: Dave Tank

Home Department: Botany

I study population genetics, specifically the consequences of rarity for plant genetic diversity and plant microbiomes. I am also interested in advancing the field of informal science education through outreach and research with the Microbestiary.

Visit Erin's website for more about the Microbestiary.

 

 


Jordan BrewinProgram in Ecology student Jordan Brewin

Advisor: William Fetzer

Home Department: Zoology & Physiology

 

Research is focused on using diets and stable isotopes to study and quantify the energy flow pathways to prey fish within the Great Lakes. Funded by the Great Lakes Fisheries Trust, the project aims to gain a clearer understanding for fisheries managers in the Great Lakes region. 

 

 


Caroline BroseProgram in Ecology student Caroline Brose

Advisor: Dave Tank

Home Department: Botany

My research focuses on systematics of North American willows (genus Salix). I’m especially interested in polyploid evolution species delimitation among Arctic species.


 


Matt Butrimbutrimmatthew_200x200.png

Advisor: Ellen Currano

Home Department: Geology

I am interested in learning how we can extrapolate from fossilized leaves to a broader understanding of an ecosystem at large.  Leaves are just one part of a plant, but they can carry a lot of information about how that plant interacts with its environment.  To that end, I’m interested in researching the relationships between fossil leaf functional traits, climate, and leaf architecture.

Visit Matt's website to learn more about his research.

 


Molly CaldwellPiE student Molly Caldwell

Advisor: Jerod Merkle

Home Department: Zoology & Physiology

My research focuses on ungulate (bison, elk, mule deer, pronghorn, and bighorn sheep) migrations in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. I am investigating the community and movement ecology of these species to help understand why a large diversity of movement strategies exist among sympatric ungulates.

Visit Molly's website to learn more about her research.

 

 


Samuel Case

Sam Case

Advisor: Corey Tarwater

Home Department: Zoology & Physiology

Broadly, my research interests concern the impacts of bird behavior on ecological communities. For my PhD, I’m studying the role of introduced game birds in seed dispersal networks of Hawaiian forests. Two non-native game bird species, the Kalij Pheasant and Erckel’s Francolin, are well established in forest habitat of Oahu, where all native seed dispersers are extinct. To evaluate the potential for these birds to contribute to conservation objectives, I’m studying their diet, foraging behavior, and effects of gut passage on seed condition. I also aim to understand how mechanisms of movement ecology and sociality affect seed deposition patterns. My work is a part of the Hawaii VINE Project, a larger investigation of seed dispersal networks in novel ecosystems of Hawaii.

 


Alessandra Ceretto

Advisor: Cynthia WeinigProgram in Ecology student Alessandra Ceretto

Home Department: Botany 

My research investigates whether microbial communities associated with the rhizosphere and phyllosphere of plants exhibit diel cycling, related to the circadian period of the associated plant. Wyoming native plant species Boechera stricta is under investigation. Current projects investigate reproducibility in the field, the magnitude of microbial changes across different latitudes, and the role plant exudates play in rhizosphere diel cycling.

 

 

   


Niall ClancyProgram in Ecology PhD student Niall Clancy

Advisor: Annika Walters

Home Department: Zoology & Physiology

Niall's current research is determining which fish species in Wyoming and Montana are most sensitive to climate change, where refuge habitats are likely to be located, and how stream restoration can help mitigate losses.

Visit Niall's website to learn more about his research.

 

 


Spencer Cruzcruzspencer_200x200.png

Advisor: Amy Krist

Home Department: Zoology & Physiology

My main interests are focused on aquatic ecology and understanding the processes that control nutrient cycling and ultimately the effect of those processes on producers and consumers. I am part of the NSF EPSCoR Track II project to help create a database of stoichiometric traits of organisms in their chemical habitats (STOICH). As a part of the STOICH project team, I’m working with Amy Krist to build a database on ecological stoichiometry and functional traits of zooplankton from alpine lakes in the Wind River Range.

 


Janette Davidson

Program in Ecology student Janette Davidson

Advisor: Lauren Shoemaker

Home Department: Botany 

I am most interested in exploring the theoretical sides of community ecology, namely in relation to better understanding how synchrony operates in communities. I am also exploring how invasive species can change these synchrony dynamics after introduction. In addition to modeling, I am also using protist microcosms to predict how certain communities may respond to invasive species based on their demographic traits and environmental conditions.

 

 

 


Katie Davis

Advisor: Melanie MurphyKatie Davis

Home Department: Ecosystem Science & Management

I am primarily interested in how genes move across changing landscapes and using genetic tools to inform conservation and management. My PhD research is focused on understanding how a non-human ecosystem engineer, the beaver, drives biodiversity at different levels of the biological hierarchy. I will use eDNA to describe aquatic biological communities in beaver and non-beaver wetlands and landscape genetics to understand population genetic structure and connectivity in wetland-dependent amphibians.

Visit Katie's website for more about her research.

 


Laura Diakiw

Advisor:

Home Department: 

 


Paul Dougherty

PiE Student Co-President (2021-2022)

Advisor: Matt CarlingPaul Dougherty

Home Department: Zoology & Physiology

My research aims to improve our understanding of the evolutionary processes that generate and maintain biodiversity, particularly in birds. I am currently focusing on the avian hybrid zones of the Great Plains, which feature dramatic differences in molt and migratory behavior between parental taxa. By characterizing patterns of introgression and hybrid phenotypes, I hope to identify the most important mechanisms of reproductive isolation in these systems. In addition to evaluating their role in mediating introgression, I am investigating how a taxon’s molt and migratory behaviors influence its response to anthropogenic landscape and climate change.

Visit Paul's website for more about his research.

 


Beth FitzpatrickBeth Fitzpatrick, University of Wyoming Program in Ecology

Advisor: Melanie Murphy

Home Department: Ecosystem Science and Management

I am interested in many aspects of ecological research with a focus on population and community ecology. More specifically, my research addresses species-habitat/landscape relationships in areas of development. For my dissertation research I am investigating the influence of energy development on landscape connectivity and distribution of Greater Sage-grouse for prioritizing reclamation efforts in Wyoming.

 


Jesse Fleri

PiE student Jesse FleriAdvisor: Daniel Laughlin

Home Department: Botany

I am a spatial community ecologist that works at the interface of conservation and management. My background tends to focus on plants and insects but I have broader experience working with birds, pathology, and geomorphology. For my masters, I investigated the effect of non-native earthworms on threatened plant communities in the Pacific Northwest. During my masters I picked up a passion for ecological modelling and now found myself dancing on the edge of data science and ecology. For my PhD, I'll be applying trait-based models to restore ecosystem resilience and function across spatial scales.

Visit Jesse's website for more about his research.

 

 


Craig Garzella

Advisor: Michael Dillon

Home Department: Zoology & Physiology

 


Katherine Gura

PiE student Katherine GuraAdvisor: Anna Chalfoun

Home Department: Zoology & Physiology

My research evaluates the mechanisms underlying variation in movements and demography by irruptive, facultative-migrant species using the Great Gray Owl (Strix nebulosa) as a model system. Specifically, I am assessing how variation in prey abundance and climatic conditions influence the seasonal movements, habitat selection, productivity, and survival of this understudied forest raptor. My research can lead to improved understanding and management of species that either rely on or must respond to variable resources and environmental conditions, which are becoming more extreme with changing climate.

 


Kristina Harkins

Advisor: Merav Ben-DavidProgram in Ecology student Kristina Harkins

Home Department: Zoology & Physiology

My broad research interests include community ecology, niche partitioning, and habitat relationships. I am currently investigating small mammal and plant community assemblages by exploring the inter-species relations and their relative importance as drivers of species reliance on different habitats. The small mammal communities of Wyoming’s basins present a good model system to study habitat relationships and biodiversity because they contain a mix of common, generalist species and rare, specialist species that co-occur over a large landscape composed of a broad range of vegetation and habitat types that are both intact and fragmented.

  


Abby Hoffman

Advisor: Dave WilliamsAbby Hoffman

Home Department: Botany

I am broadly interested in understanding nutrient cycling and anthropogenic alterations to nutrient cycling across a range of ecosystems and scales. My dissertation research focuses quantifying microbial assemblages and activity in seasonal and perennial snow in Wyoming. In particular, I aim to understand how microbes in the snow pack transform atmospheric nitrogen deposition and whether microbial activity in the snow alter C and N inputs to downstream terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. I use a broad range of approaches including DNA sequencing, stable isotopes and modeling to answer questions about microbial processes and nutrient cycling at different spatial and temporal scales

Visit Abby's website for more about her research.

 

 


Alexis Hollander

Advisor: Jeffrey BeckProgram in Ecology student Alexis Hollander

Home Department: Ecosystem Science and Management

I am broadly interested in the effects of climate, human activities, and species interactions on organismal survival and reproduction and species distributions. I am especially interested in avian ecology. I have done previous work in the Atlantic Ocean focused on clams. My current work is investigating the impacts of wind farm development on sage grouse in Southern Montana. 

Visit Alexis' website for more about her research.

 

 

 


Spencer Holtz

Program in Ecology student Spencer Holtz

Advisor: Chistopher Weiss-Lehman

Home Department: Botany

My research is centered around evolutionary spatial dynamics. Specifically I am interested in how the process of species shifting their ranges may result in decreased genetic diversity and an increase in genetic load which may affect the persistence of species even after a successful range shift.

To study this I am using experimental microcosms of  red flour beetles (tribolium castaneum) to examine the genomic consequences of range shifts with the goal of linking these genomics changes to ecologically important population metrics including fitness and adaptive potential.

 


Bridger Huhn

Advisor: Brent EwersProgram in Ecology student Bridger Huhn

Home Department: Botany

I am broadly focused on plant physiology and how to gain insight into the mechanisms of plants' responses. My current research involves modeling sugarbeet growth and determining what measurable physiological processes are linked to the growth rate. I am hoping to further our understanding of mechanisms underlying vegetation responses to a changing environment brought on by climate change. There is a multitude of excellent plant physiological models and I am attempting to reparameterize them to work on many taxa for the benefit of agricultural and ecosystem sciences.

 


Ellen Keaveny

PiE Student Co-President (2020-2021)

Advisor: Michael DillonProgram in Ecology student Ellen Keaveny

Home Department: Zoology & Physiology

Broadly, I am interested in how organisms cope with environmental variation from changes in their cellular composition to responses at the population level. Currently, we are identifying how bumble bees respond to temperature variation over short and long-term timescales. Upcoming work will focus on the effects of temperature on floral resources (pollen), and to what extent diet influences physiology. We hope to better understand how bumble bees alter their cellular composition across variable conditions as we identify the cascading effects of climate on these crucial pollinators.

  

 

 


Leo Khasohakhasohaleo_200x200.png

Advisor: Jacob Goheen

Home Department: Zoology & Physiology

I study abundance-occupancy relationships in a small mammal community of central Kenya savanna. I test the predictions of two influential ecological hypotheses; 1) colonization-extinction rates hypothesis, which predicts restricted, rare species require dispersal from the surrounding region to maintain occupancy, whereas widespread, abundant species do not require such dispersal even though such dispersal will bolster their abundance, 2) resource-use hypothesis, that predicts resource generalism at the species level is the mechanism that leads to the fitness advantages exhibited by common and widespread species.

 


Tayler LaSharr

PiE student Tayler LaSharrAdvisor: Kevin Monteith

Home Department: Zoology & Physiology

Broadly, my research interests are focused on how animal nutrition and life-history interact to influence individual behaviors, and how that ultimately scales up to affect populations. My current research is focused on the effects of severe winter conditions on mule deer, and the potential carryover effects of nutritional stress on behavior and reproduction later in life.

 

 

 


Jonathan Lautenbach

Advisor: Jeffrey Becklautenbachjonathan_200x200.jpeg

Home Department: Ecosystem Science and Management

Generally, I am interested in habitat ecology and habitat management. My current research is focused on the ecology of sharp-tailed grouse in south-central Wyoming. Little research has been conducted on this population of sharp-tailed grouse and through my research I am seeking to understand sharp-tailed grouse habitat selection, demographic rates, and sub-species status of this population. Specifically, I am going to look at what vegetation types sharp-tailed grouse select and how this impacts demographic rates and what subspecies this population belongs to.

 

 

 


Chloe Mattilio

Chloe Mattilio

PiE Student Co-President (2021-2022)

Advisor: Urszula Norton

Home Department: Plant Sciences

Non-indigenous invasive plants threaten the native vegetation, fauna, and human pursuits in western lands, and impacts and management goals vary based on the invasion status. My projects include using UAS remote sensing for the early detection of invasive plants in rangelands in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and in Wyoming forage fields, satellite remote sensing for invasive plant mapping in the Yampa River watershed in Colorado, and developing a prioritization tool for invasive plant population management for Fremont County, Wyoming.

 


Kaitlyn McKnightProgram in Ecology PhD student Kaitlyn McKnight

Advisor: Lauren Shoemaker

Home Department: Botany

My research is centered around community ecology and how species fluctuate through space and time. I have specific interests in spatiotemporal synchrony and stability in systems experiencing environmental change. Goals for my research include decomposing the roles of environment, species interactions, synchrony and evenness in driving overall ecosystem stability.

  


Robby McMinn

Advisor: Cynthia Weinig

Home Department: Botany

 


Libby Megna

Advisor: Matt CarlingLibby Megna, University of Wyoming Program in Ecology PhD student

Home Department: Zoology & Physiology

I am obsessed with birds in general, and bird behavior and evolution more specifically. During my master's work on a gull colony in Washington I realized how fascinating hybridization is, and that hybridizing species can help us understand the process of speciation. Despite the fact that gulls are really cool, I have switched study systems and am currently conducting a comparative study of reproductive isolation in songbirds. Several pairs of closely related passerine species hybridize quite extensively but other pairs do not hybridize even though they sing similar songs, have similar ecologies, and share geographic ranges. I am hoping to associate patterns of environmental niche divergence, song divergence, and genomic divergence with patterns of hybridization or its converse, complete reproductive isolation. Ideally, I will be able to identify consistent patterns in the evolution of reproductive isolation across North American passerines. 

Visit Libby's website for more about her research.

 


Francisco Molina

Advisor: Jake GoheenFrancisco Molina

Home Department: Zoology & Physiology

My research is centered on large mammal predator-prey interactions. I seek to improve our understanding of the environmental factors that affect the responses of herbivores to predation risk and how this, in turn, influences the indirect impact that carnivores have on vegetation (i.e., behaviorally-mediated trophic cascades). My study system involves pumas (Puma concolor) and guanacos (Lama guanicoe) in the Patagonian Steppe of Argentina.

Visit Francisco's website for more about his research.

 


Anna Ortega

Advisor: Matt Kauffman

Home Department: Zoology & Physiologystudent holds brown trout

I'm studying a diversity of migratory strategies in a herd of mule deer sharing a common winter range in the Red Desert of south-central Wyoming. The Sublette Herd exhibits three migratory tactics, including long-distance migrants that travel 150 miles to Hoback Basin for the summer (the world’s longest mule deer migration), medium-distance migrants that migrate 70 miles to the southern Wind River Range for the summer, and short-distance migrants that either travel less than 30 miles north or remain year-round as residents in the Red Desert. The primary objective of my research is to evaluate the costs and benefits associated with the different migratory strategies. 

Visit Anna's website for more about her research.

 


Ashleigh PilkertonProgram in Ecology student Ashleigh Pilkerton

Advisors: Annika Walters and Sarah Collins

Home Department: Zoology & Physiology

Ashleigh studies the ecological impacts of water quality issues ranging from sedimentation in spawning habitat to the environmental drivers of harmful algal blooms and zooplankton dynamics in reservoirs.

Visit Ashleigh's website for more about her research.

 

 

 

 


Eric Quallen

PiE student Eric QuallenAdvisor: Merav Ben-David

Home Department: Zoology & Physiology

My research interests lie at the interface between animal behavior and population dynamics. Specifically, I study wild and captive least chipmunks (Tamias minimus) to see how individual behavior and learning mechanisms (e.g. social learning, trial and error) impact population-level success in small mammals. Understanding how animal behavior influences the fitness of large groups of individuals can help managers better conserve and protect these species by accounting for population dynamics that result from changes in knowledge transfer rather than, or in addition to, environmental factors.

 

 


Claudia Richbourg

Advisor: Ellen CurranoClaudia Richbourg

Home Department: Botany

I am interested in the early Eocene paleobotanic record, which here in Wyoming's Wind River Basin captures the Early Eocene Climatic Optimum (EECO). This event is characterized by some of the warmest temperatures in the past 65 million years, making it an ideal place to examine the plant response to warming in both vegetation structure and community composition. Because this climate event is so significant, it also lends itself well to analyzing the plant-insect interactions and their variability over the warming period.

 

 


Macy Ricketts

Advisor: Naomi WardProgram in Ecology student Macy Ricketts

My research explores how temporal structure and spatial heterogeneity influence microbial community dynamics and stability in archaeological soils. I am currently utilizing microbial biomarkers and high throughput sequencing to develop a high-resolution paleoclimate reconstruction of archaeology sites throughout Wyoming.

Visit Macy's website for more about her research.

 

 

 


Linnea Rock

Advisor: Sarah CollinsProgram in Ecology student Linnea Rock

As a limnologist, I enjoy using ecology, hydrology, chemistry, and biology to address issues impacting our fresh waters. I am part of the NSF EPSCoR Track II project to create a database of stoichiometric traits of organisms in their chemical habitats (STOICH) and to conduct related research. This database will be the first of its kind and will enable current and future freshwater scientists to expand the field of ecological stoichiometry and to build upon our understanding of patterns that result from mismatches between available elements and requirements by communities of organisms.

Visit Linnea's website for more about her research.

 


Will RosenthalProgram in Ecology student Will Rosenthal

Advisor: Katie Wagner

Home Department: Botany

I use genomic data to understand both the evolutionary history and modern ecology of populations. My dissertation involves partnering with state, federal, and non-profit partners to study Wyoming’s native (and imperiled) Yellowstone cutthroat trout across its range. I hope to understand the effects of historic fish stocking, geography, and life history on the diversification of the subspecies and use this information to inform management decisions, stocking practices, and monitoring techniques. On a broader scale, I would like my work to contribute to the growing utilization of genetic data in conservation.

Visit Will's website for more about his research.

 


Malia SantosProgram in Ecology student Malia Santos

Advisor: David Tank

Home Department: Botany

My research broadly aims to understand how herbivory influences the diversification of plants. My dissertation research is focused on a tropical plant genus Tricalysia (Rubiaceae) located in sub-saharan Africa that displays an interesting suite of morphological and potential chemical defenses. I am using a comparative phylogenetic framework to understand and make inferences about how different defenses can shape plant evolution.  

Visit Malia's website for more about her research.

 


Anne ScholleProgram in Ecology student Anne Scholle

Advisor: Jerod Merkle

Home Department: Zoology & Physiology

My research explores the roles of cognition and sociality in group dynamics and collective decision making in migratory ungulates. I will use GPS data, camera traps, and drones in my data collection.

 

 

 


Emily ShertzerProgram in Ecology student Emily Shertzer

Advisor: Anna Chalfoun

Home Department: Zoology & Physiology

I am interested in the effects of human-induced habitat change on survival and fitness of animals across the full life cycle. Specifically, I am studying survival and fitness during understudied life stages, including the post-fledging and over-wintering stages, in sagebrush-obligate songbirds that breed near energy development.

 

 


Christina Sluka

Advisor: Merav Ben-David and Sarah Benson-AmramChristina Sluka

Home Department: Zoology & Physiology

I am broadly interested in cognitive ecology and animal behavior. My research focuses on the morphology, social structure, and cognition of wild raccoons in urban and rural spaces. I am interested in understanding what makes a successful urban species, how these animals learn to navigate these spaces, and how urban and rural environments may shape different cognitive and morphological traits. Here, I am looking to find a more efficient way to evaluate wild raccoon cognition using olfactory stimuli and to determine if urban environments may alter brain and skull morphology in wild raccoon populations across the US.

  

 


Rachel Smiley

Advisor: Kevin MonteithProgram in Ecology student Rachel Smiley

Home Department: Zoology & Physiology

I study the intersection of nutritional and disease ecology with a focus on resource allocation. Specifically, I am looking at how nutrition influences the effects of pneumonia on bighorn sheep, and how mothers can successfully reproduce in the presence of disease. I seek to improve how environmental factors contribute to population response to disease.

Visit Rachel's website for more about her research.

 


Alice Stears

Advisor: Daniel LaughlinPhoto of PhD student Alice Stears

Home Department: Botany

I am broadly interested in how variation in the physical environment across time and space impacts individual plant growth, survival and reproduction, and in turn, alters plant populations and communities. An improved understanding of these processes helps inform our predictions of how ecosystems will respond to a changing climate. My work focuses specifically on identifying plant functional traits (i.e. phenotypes) in western grassland plants that increase a species' ability to survive and grow in drought years.

  

 


Megan Szojka

Program in Ecology PhD student Megan Szojka

Advisor: Lauren Shoemaker

Home Department: Botany

I am a community ecologist studying how species coexistence shifts in the context of climate change. I’m interested in understanding how dispersal and species interactions are altered along a temperature gradient, with implications for predicting biodiversity change. My recent work has focused on uncovering the role of transient species on stable community dynamics. I build on existing ecological frameworks with the aim to bridge theory to applied restoration and management efforts across systems.

Visit Megan's website to learn more about her research.

 

 


Melanie Torres

Photo of PhD student Melanie Torres

Advisor: Melanie Murphy

Home Department: Ecosystem Science and Management

Amphibians are experiencing global population declines and extinctions. As someone who grew up catching frogs and salamanders, my research endeavors are driven by a desire to understand the local and landscape factors influencing amphibian populations. Using the species found in the Rocky Mountains as my study system, my dissertation incorporates landscape genetics to assess amphibian rarity based on their niche breadth and functional connectivity. Additionally, I’m interested in how disease can shape a population’s distribution and ability to disperse.

   

 


Elizabeth Traver

Advisors: Linda van DiepenElizabeth Traver

Home Department: Ecosystem Science and Management

I have wandered around academia for a while, but feel that I have finally found my niche.  I have always been interested in the abiotic / biotic interface but did not feel like I have found the right approach until I started working with soil microbes.  I also love the outdoors and mountainous landscapes, so looking at microbial community dynamics in the forefields of retreating glaciers could not be a better fit.  My current research is in soil science but it is really the play of communities and environment that intrigues me.  Sampling a soil chronosequence in the forefield of a retreating glacier, I will use DNA sequencing for genetic identification as well as enzyme assays to tease out soil microbial functional groups, then look at soil biogeochemical characteristics and plant – mycorrhizal associations.  

  


Tana Verzuh

Program in Ecology student Tana Verzuh

Advisor: Jerod Merkle

Home Department: Zoology & Physiology

Tana’s research focuses on the reintroduced bison population in Banff National Park, Canada, aiming to understand the underpinnings of how animals learn a novel environment and how that knowledge influences space use and home range formation.

 

 

 

 


Jordan Von EggersProgram in Ecology student Jordan Von Eggers

Advisors: Bryan Shuman and Amy Krist

Home Department: Geology & Geophysics

Alpine lakes are transforming rapidly due to the introduction on non-native trout, atmospheric nutrient pollution, and climate change. My research uses the DNA stored in the bottom of lake sediments to track how these human-induced stressors have influenced aquatic biodiversity patterns of microbial and plankton communities across the western United States in the past 500 years.

Visit Jordan's website to learn more about her reserach.

 

 


Sarah WaybrightProgram in Ecology student Sarah Waybright

PiE Student Co-President (2020-2021)

Advisor: Michael Dillon

Home Department: Zoology & Physiology

I broadly study queen bumble bee overwintering physiology. I am currently exploring how where a queen bumble bee overwinters influences her survival and energy usage while overwintering, and/or her fitness post-winter. Through a combination of field work, lab work, and empirical modeling approaches, I aim to predict if the changing climate may impact bumble bee abundance and spatial distribution now and in the future. 

 


Luke Wildestudent in mountaineering gear stands on mountain

Advisor: Matt Kauffman

Home Department: Zoology & Physiology

I study mule deer migration with a focus on state-dependent resource-risk tradeoffs behavior, the origins and trade offs of spatial fidelity, and migratory adaptability under changing environmental conditions and disturbance. I use the Red Desert to Hoback migration, the 3rd longest terrestrial migration on earth, among others.

Visit Luke's website to learn more about his research.

 


Megan Wilson

Advisor: Tim Collier and Scott ShawUniversity of Wyoming Program in Ecology student Megan Wilson

Home Department: Ecosystem Science and Management

I’m interested in reclamation and restoration science associated with energy development and how different reclamation practices affect the insect community and in turn, higher trophic levels.  My research is primarily focused on insects of importance to sage grouse chicks.  I’m interested in manipulating the plant species originally used to reclaim the land, to include more forbs and shrubs, to potentially increase the biomass of insect species vital to sage grouse development.  I'm also very curious about the effect ants have on a reclaimed community through seed dispersal and predation and possible protection of plants from herbivores.  

 

 


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Program in Ecology

Transdisciplinary Program

Debbie Swierczek

Program Coordinator

Office of Graduate Education

Old Main 310

Phone: 307-766-4128

Email: ecology@uwyo.edu

University of Wyoming Program in Ecology
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