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Students|Program in Ecology

Program in Ecology Students

Students in Program in Ecology study a diverse set of ecological questions, ranging from scales of DNA and microbes to plant and vertebrate systemics, to landscape ecology and everything in between.  All Ph.D students in Program in Ecology also have a home department.

>>Apply to the Program in Ecology

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Ellen AikensUniversity of Wyoming Program in Ecology student Ellen Aikens

Advisor: Matt Kauffman

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I am fascinated by all things related to movement ecology. From seed dispersal to trophic cascades, movement plays a fundamental role in ecological processes. For my PhD, I will focus on understanding mule deer migration in the Wyoming Range.  To disentangle the mechanisms underlying migration, I will evaluate the forage maturation hypothesis as it relates to phenology tracking during migration. Additionally, I hope to understand how movement strategies affect body condition and reproductive success of migratory mule deer. With this information in hand, I will investigate how changing environmental conditions might affect mule deer populations in the future. My goal as a PhD student is to contribute to both applied and theoretical ecology.   

 


Dan Albrecht-Mallinger

Advisor: Corey Tarwater

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Abdullahi AliAbdullahi H. Ali

Advisor: Jacob Goheen

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I am interested in wildlife ecology and conservation of arid ecosystems. My PhD dissertation  focuses on the population ecology of hirola (Beatragus hunteri), an antelope restricted to the Kenya-Somalia border and one of the most endangered mammals in Africa. I am exploring competition between hirola and livestock (e.g., goats, camels) across a gradient of livestock densities, and I will use demographic data to make quantitative predictions about hirola populations under different land-use scenarios. In addition, I am analyzing remotely-sensed imagery to determine the causes of hirola declines; this information will be used to guide management strategies through the Hirola Management Committee of the Kenya Wildlife Service. All of my work involves capacity building and education of local communities within Ijara and Fafi Districts in Eastern Kenya.

Ali featured in Kenya's The Standard, May 13, 2011

 


Timothy Aston

Advisor: Brent EwersTim Aston

Google Scholar Profile

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I'm interested in how past climate change, driven by variation in the earth's orbit, has affected the ecophysiology and community structure of Mediterranean ecosystems. The Cape floristic region on the southern tip of Africa has experienced lower levels of climate change over the last few million years than both of the northern hemisphere Mediterranean ecosystems, which is thought to have contributed to the areas exceptionally high biodiversity. As a result of its fairly wet climate, the Cape, like many of the world's most bio-diverse areas, has a poor palaeoecological record. I aim to develop tools to assess the relative amount of past climatic change using aspects of an areas modern biology.

 


Adi Barocas

Adi BarocasAdvisor: Merav Ben-David

Google Scholar Profile

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I am interested in various aspects of animal, particularly mammal, social behavior.  I study the associations between group living animals, their relation to ecology, and how they affect survival and fitness.  I believe that behavior has implications for animal conservation, and this intersection between two different fields should get more research attention.  I also look at the genetic variability in wild animal populations as a tool for management and conservation, using genotyping and mark-recapture techniques.  My main current project deals with diverse river otter populations in Alaska.

 


Lisa BarrettUniversity of Wyoming Program in Ecology student Lisa Barrett

Advisor: Sarah Benson-Amram

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My research interests lie broadly in comparative cognition of animals and wildlife conservation, especially after having worked as a research assistant with Think Elephants International in Thailand. Advised by Dr. Sarah Benson-Amram, I will be investigating social learning and problem-solving in raccoons or elephants.

 

 


Christopher BeltzUniversity of Wyoming Program in Ecology student Christopher Beltz

Advisor: Indy Burke

Google Scholar Profile

Website

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My long-term goal is to investigate plant-soil interactions and nutrient cycling at the ecosystem and community level using an approach that incorporates biogeochemistry, soil science, ecosystem ecology, and soil microbiology. 

I am currently working on a project with Dr. Ingrid Burke in Pinedale, WY examining the effects of nitrogen fertilization on sagebrush plant communities.  We hope to further elucidate the role of nitrogen in sagebrush communities, which is complex due to the co-limitation by both nitrogen and water availability.  This study also has implications for the management of mule deer near natural gas development, as large areas of sagebrush were recently fertilized by Wyoming Game and Fish in order to improve mule deer habitat.

Prior to attending the University of Wyoming, I studied environmental science and education at the Teton Science Schools (Kelly, WY).  In addition, I conducted research as part of a MS at Antioch University New England (Keene, NH) involving forest population dynamics and applied restoration in the alpine and sub-alpine zones of New England. 

I found my way to Wyoming by teaching skiing for “just one winter” in Jackson Hole.  That was in 2005.



Shawn Billerman

Shawn Billerman

Advisor: Matt Carling

Google Scholar Profile

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My research interests lie in investigating speciation (especially avian speciation) by studying the interactions of species at hybrid zones.  I am particularly interested in how behavior, ecology, and genetics all play a role in patterns of species divergence.  To address these questions, I will look at the hybrid zone between the Red-naped Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus nuchalis) and Red-breasted Sapsucker (S. ruber), which meet in the mountains of northern California, Oregon, and Washington.  By sampling at several distinct geographic transects throughout the hybrid zone, patterns of introgression between populations will be more apparent.  Genetic data will be collected using next-generation sequencing techniques, which will allow me to sample a huge diversity of genes throughout the genome.



John CalderJohn Calder

Advisor: Bryan Shuman

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I am using paleoecology to investigate the interactions of climate change and disturbance on vegetation. To do this I will use drought records from the Rockies in northern Colorado coupled with charcoal records as a proxy for fire disturbance. By looking at multiple sites with different fire regimes I hope to be able to tease out any possible interactions with drought and fire.

 


Jason Carlisle

Jason Carlisle

Advisor: Anna Chalfoun

Website

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My research interests lie within the broad field of wildlife ecology, specifically in the use of quantitative and spatial tools to understand basic ecological processes and encourage enlightened wildlife management.  My dissertation research is focused on the ecological concept of umbrella species, specifically how efforts to conserve Greater Sage-Grouse might indirectly benefit lesser-known wildlife species of conservation need that also call Wyoming home.

 


Paige Copenhaver-ParryPaige Copenhaver, PhD student at the University of Wyoming's Program in Ecology

Advisor: Dan Tinker

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I am broadly interested in understanding how forest ecosystems respond to climate change, particularly with regards to changes in geographical species distributions. I am currently investigating the influence of interspecific competition on the distributions of three montane conifer species in the central Rocky Mountains. I incorporate sophisticated modeling techniques with field measurements to understand the environmental and climatic factors driving dominance trends and competitive advantages. These models will be used to construct a new species distribution modeling framework that incorporates interspecific competitive interactions and allows for more accurate predictions of changes in species distributions through time.

 


Michael CurranUniversity of Wyoming Program in Ecology student Mike Curran

Advisor: Peter Stahl

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My research interests are broadly within the field of restoration ecology. My focus mainly deals with land reclamation and ecosystem restoration associated with land disturbance due to oil and natural gas production. I am interested in how techniques used in the practice of land reclamation in different areas affect the outcome of ecological restoration projects.

 


Sarah Daniels

Advisor: Sarah Benson-Amram

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Courtney Duchardt Courtney Duchardt, University of Wyoming Program in Ecology student

Advisor: Jeff Beck

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Generally, I am very interested in avian community ecology and habitat management, especially in working systems. My research is focused on avian communities in the Thunder Basin Grassland of eastern Wyoming, a system which provides habitat for both sagebrush, shortgrass, and mixed grass bird species. I am interested in understanding the optimal size and configuration of habitat patches to maintain each suite of species, and how this information can be used for management purposes. I am also interested in the nesting and behavioral ecology of the Mountain Plover (Charadrius montanus), a shortgrass species that prefers disturbed habitat, and is often associated with prairie dog colonies.

 


Carolyn EckrichCarolyn Eckrich, PhD student at University of Wyoming Program in Ecology

Advisor: Merav Ben-David

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My research interests lie within the field of population ecology with an emphasis on mammalian population dynamics and demography. My Ph.D. research focuses on the responses of small mammals to forest management practices in Southeast Alaska. I will be investigating top-down and bottom-up influences on populations within various habitat types and across the landscape. I will use spatial analysis, predator-prey models, and stable isotope analysis to explain variability within these populations.

 

   


Jason Edwards

Jason EdwardsAdvisor: Steve Prager and William Reiners

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I am interested in ecosystem response to climate variation in time and space, and how vegetation structure and composition control patterns of evapotranspiration, photosynthesis, and respiration. My study site is the French Creek watershed in the Snowies, just west of Laramie. This site includes lodgepole pine and mixed conifers from near lower tree line up to high elevation zones spanning over 1000 m in elevation. I am using the ratios of heavy and light oxygen and carbon isotopes from leaf cellulose and tree rings to elucidate heavy isotope relationships in the watershed. In particular, I am focused on lodgepole regrowth following disturbance.

 


Beth FitzpatrickBeth Fitzpatrick, University of Wyoming Program in Ecology

Advisor: Melanie Murphy

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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.

 


John FrankJohn Frank

Advisor: Brent Ewers

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I have operated the GLEES AmeriFlux site in the Snowy Range for the U.S. Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station since 1999.  Over that time we've been studying the exchange of energy, momentum, carbon dioxide, and water vapor between the ecosystem and the atmosphere.  In recent years an outbreak of spruce beetle has caused considerable mortality within the subalpine forest.  I decided to go back to school to study the changes in the ecosystem in response to the bark beetle epidemic.

 


Charlotte Gabrielsen

Advisor: Melanie MurphyCharlotte Gabrielsen, University of Wyoming Program in Ecology graduate student

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My primary research interests are in landscape ecology and landscape genetics. I am also particularly interested in investigating anthropogenic influence on landscape connectivity. My current research will explore how climate change influences wetland hydroperiod in the Plains and Prairie Pothole Region. To address this question, I will use remotely sensed data and field measurements to predict hydroperiod over several different climate change scenarios. Additionally, I will relate wetland plant, amphibian, and microbial biodiversity to hydroperiod predictions to model changes to biodiversity. Lastly, I aim to address how predicted change in wetland hydroperiod may influence fine-scale spatial genetic structure of Northern Leopard Frog, a species in decline across its range, by limiting suitable breeding habitat across the landscape.



Susma GiriProgram in Ecology Graduate PhD, University of Wyoming

Advisor: Michael Dillon

Google Scholar Profile

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I am fascinated by the influences of the environment on animal physiology. My dissertation research seeks to identify the effects of various environmental factors in bee physiology, specially metabolism, fatty acid content and composition.

 

 


Brady Godwin, University of Wyoming Program in Ecology studentBrady Godwin

Advisor: Holly Ernest

Website

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I am interested in using genetics to answer ecological questions. For my PhD, I will study the population genetics and disease ecology of hummingbird species found in Wyoming and Colorado, and hope to investigate their potential as sentinel species. A significant part of my PhD work will be to help begin a hummingbird health monitoring program throughout the Rocky Mountain West based at the University of Wyoming. If you have any interest in participating in this, and/or know of locations frequented by hummingbirds in the summer in Wyoming or nearby, please let me know at bgodwin@uwyo.edu! ​

 


Jimena Golcher-BenavidesJimena Golcher-Benavides, University of Wyoming Program in Ecology student

Advisor: Katie Wagner

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I am most interested in the role microhabitats play in the development of early reproductive barriers between fish populations, emergence of complex traits and evolution of phenotypic diversity in the wild. African cichlids have undergone diversification in sympatry and at a very fast rate but the potential underlying causes for this variation are not completely known. Gradients in water biogeochemistry across depth and surface area in lake environments seem to facilitate the initial isolation of closely related fish. For my PhD, I plan on identifying actual mechanisms leading phenotypes to fit better in specific environments and therefore potentially explain present fish diversity at a broader spatial scale or predict future differentiation.

 


Kristen GuntherKristen Gunther, Program in Ecology student

Advisor: Ann Hild

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My research interests have to do with how ecosystem science is communicated. I study the transmission of ecological information, and the influence that communicatory tactics have on reception and knowledge among ecosystem managers. I am interested in finding out whether "priming" approaches can be used to influence how technical scientific information is received, and in turn potentially foster increased dialogue between scientists, managers, and other stakeholder groups. Currently, I am working on a project related to adaptive management approaches and ecosystem resilience.

 


Jiemin Guo

Advisor: Dave Williams

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Embere HallEmbere Hall, University of Wyoming Program in Ecology

Advisor: Anna Chalfoun

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Embere is interested in the ecological effects of climate change, and how wildlife may adapt to a changing environment through exploitation of unique habitats or behaviors. As climate change continues to manifest, it is essential to develop management strategies that consider new paradigms, including the role that plasticity may play in species conservation. Embere examines American pika (Ochotona princeps) responses to climate change in alpine ecosystems. Results of her research will contribute to enhanced management programs that can minimize biodiversity loss under rapid climate change.

 


Monia Haselhorst

Monia HaselhorstAdvisor: Alex Buerkle

Website

Google Scholar Profile

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My research is focused on the processes of plant adaptation and speciation. I seek evolutionary and biographic explanations for why a plant is living where it is, how it ended up there and what made it possible for it to adapt to its environment. I am undertaking an integrated approach to pursue these questions and am working in the areas of ecological genetics and physiological ecology. An initial focus involves the dynamics of hybridization in North American Spruce and how hybrids can contribute to our understanding of the genetics of ecological differences between species.

 


Anne-Marie HodgeAnne-Marie Hodge, PhD student in the University of Wyoming's Program in Ecology

Advisor: Jake Goheen

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My main research interests involve the ecological mechanisms underlying niche partitioning and species co-existence, with a focus on predatory mammals. My master's research involved investigating complementary niche partitioning among sympatric carnivores in the eastern Andean foothills of Ecuador. For my doctoral research, I am studying top-down versus bottom-up influences on the structure of a highly diverse mesopredator assemblage in central Kenya. I will be teasing apart the effects of two anthropogenically induced challenges to mesopredator populations: climate change and declines in populations of apex predators. I will also assess how intraspecific variation in diet selection by mesopredators will be affected by the drying of East Africa as global climate change progresses.

 


Charley HubbardCharley Hubbard, University of Wyoming Program in Ecology student

Advisor: Cynthia Weinig

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I am generally interested in the value of plant-soil microbe interactions, in the context of local adaptation. To investigate, I use Wyoming populations of Boechera stricta to assess the impact soil microbes have on plant performance in the face of biotic and abiotic stressors. I am also interested in the genetic and physiological drivers of soil community structure.

 


Brett JesmerBrett Jesmer, University of Wyoming Program in Ecology student

Advisors: Matt Kauffman and Jake Goheen

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I am motivated by the question, “how does an animal’s environment shape its physiology, behavior, fitness (reproduction and survival), and ultimately its population’s dynamics?” I also find it fascinating that, like humans, wild animals within a species, or even within a population, vary widely in their individual ability to tune their behavior and physiology in accordance with local environmental conditions in a way that allows them to bolster survival and reproduction. My research integrates tool sets from the fields of remote sensing, genetics, stable isotopes, and endocrinology with classical field approaches, to elucidate how animals behaviorally and physiologically cope with climatic variation and resource (food) limitation. By taking advantage of climatic and resource gradients found among several moose and mule deer populations in the Intermountain West, my dissertation research aims to identify environmental factors that challenge their survival and reproduction, and advance our understanding of how animals persist in the face of variable and challenging environmental conditions. Results from this research will provide wildlife managers with the information they can use to manage and conserve large-herbivores.

 


Melanie LaCavaMelanie LaCava, University of Wyoming Program in Ecology Student

Advisor: Holly Ernest

Website

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I am interested in applying genetic and genomic techniques to study wildlife populations, with a foundation in conservation. For my PhD, I will be applying molecular techniques to study the genetic health of pronghorn populations across the state of Wyoming. I also hope to incorporate other disciplines into my research, including landscape ecology and disease ecology.

 


Michele Larson

Advisor: Amy Krist

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I will be studying factors associated with the invasion success and persistence of invasive gastropods in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. One part of my dissertation research will focus on determining the influences of conductivity and calcium concentrations on the growth and survival of native and invasive gastropods to determine if conductivity is a limiting resource for the expansion of invasive gastropods. I will also be conducting field experiments on the dilution effect which looks at the influence of P. antipodarum on the level of parasites found in native snails. Additionally, I will be conducting a field study at multiple geographic locations to determine if trematode parasite diversity in snails can be used as a bioindicator of overall macroinvertebrate diversity in a stream or pond. And finally, I will be looking at the influence of eutrophic conditions on the spread of invasive snails.

 


Hilary MadingerHilary Madinger, PhD student in the University of Wyoming's Program in Ecology

Advisor: Bob Hall

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My research interests are broadly within stream ecology and aquatic biogeochemistry. Specifically, I am interested in using quantitative measurements of stream biogeochemistry to explain spatial and temporal variation in stream nutrient processing and aquatic microbial production.

 


Bryan MaitlandBryan Maitland, University of Wyoming Program in Ecology student

Advisor: Frank Rahel

Website
Google Scholar Profile

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I am a conservation biologist interested in the ecology and conservation of wild fish and aquatic ecosystems. My research is motivated by a love and fascination for the watery world and the animals (both human and non) that live in and depend on it, as well as a serious concern for the persistence of biodiversity in a changing world. I have studied zooplankton communities and island geology in the Caribbean, riverscape fragmentation impacts to native fish assemblages in Canada's Boreal Forest, and now, in my doctoral work, I will use food web approaches to elucidate mechanisms and processes that generate patterns of fish diversity found in river and stream systems that originate in the Rocky Mountains and flow onto the Great Plains.

 


Liz Mandeville

Liz MandevilleAdvisor: Alex Buerkle
Website

Google Scholar Profile

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I am interested in speciation, adaptation, and hybridization in aquatic systems, primarily in fish. My current research is focused on quantifying genomic outcomes of hybridization in Catostomus ​fish species ("suckers") in the Upper Colorado River basin in Wyoming and Colorado. By studying hybrids, I hope to better understand how reproductive isolation between species evolves and is maintained in natural populations. My research also has direct conservation implications, because hybridization in the Catostomidae​ is also a potential threat to conservation of native fish.

 


Robby McMinn

Advisor: Cynthia Weinig

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Libby MegnaLibby Megna, University of Wyoming Program in Ecology PhD student

Advisor: Matt Carling

Google Scholar Profile

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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.

 


Kellen NelsonKellen Nelson, PhD student in the University of Wyoming's Program in Ecology

Advisor: Dan Tinker

Website

Google Scholar Profile

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My primary interests lie in forest ecology, disturbance ecology, and landscape ecology. I holds a BS in Forestry Biology (2004) and a MS in Forest Ecology (2009) from Colorado State University.  For the last decade, I have participated in forest ecology research throughout Colorado and Wyoming examining forest management and carbon offsets and the effects of the recent mountain pine beetle outbreak on lodgepole pine forests.  After graduating with my MS degree, I spent two years working for the USDA Forest Service; first, as a monitoring analyst for the Washington DC office then as a technology transfer forester for the National Inventory and Monitoring Application Center.  In 2012, I decided to return to forest ecology research and pursue a PhD at the University of Wyoming.

 


Christopher North

Chris NorthAdvisor: James R. Lovvorn

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Our work in the Bering Sea examines the effects of global warming, particularly decreases in the extent and duration of sea ice cover, on the bottom-dwelling (benthic) community. Reorganization of the benthic community due to climate change could have major impacts on species of conservation interest, such as the spectacled eider, gray whales, and walruses. Important snow crab and ground fish fisheries, among the most productive in the world, will also be impacted. Our group is building a food web-based ecosystem model to help managers plan for the changing future. I'm looking at the effect of climate change on the prey base, including abundant clams, which are the main food for many benthic predators (eiders, walruses, crabs, etc.). I'm also investigating the diet of sea stars and snails which are largely understudied but potentially important predators of the shared prey base.

 


Kennan OyenKennan Oyen, University of Wyoming Program in Ecology student

Advisor: Michael Dillon

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I am interested in the mechanistic bases for physiological responses to extreme temperatures and how these mechanisms can inform our understanding of insect ecology. I have developed methods for assessing critical thermal limits of bumblebees and am interested in how these thermal limits may affect bumblebee distributions and activity patterns across altitude and latitude. I have also long been interested in how insects cope with extremely low temperatures, particularly during overwintering, a topic I began exploring as an undergraduate in Alaska.

 


Cody PorterUniversity of Wyoming Program in Ecology student Cody Porter

Advisor: Craig Benkman

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I am interested in speciation, especially the evolution of reproductive isolation in incipient species, where the processes directly giving rise to divergence are most easily studied.  I am particularly interested in how natural and sexual selection interact during the speciation process and adaptive evolution in general.  Additional interests of mine include utilizing a quantitative genetics framework for studying the evolution of isolating barriers, the dimensionality of sexual selection, and measuring natural selection and reproductive isolation in natural populations.  At present, I am developing a research project to estimate the contribution of various isolating barriers to reproductive isolation between Red Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra complex) call types and the role that ecological variation plays in this process.  I am a passionate proponent of the importance of natural history in evolutionary biology and my current fascination (obsession might be more appropriate) with crossbills stems from their unique and well-characterized natural history.

 


Aaron Pratt

Advisor: Jeffrey BeckAaron Pratt, Program in Ecology

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My experience and interests are in the field of wildlife ecology and management.  This has included working on large carnivores, ungulates, raptors, and upland game birds.  The project I am involved with here is looking at the response (demographic rates, movements, habitat use) of greater sage-grouse to bentonite mining in the Bighorn Basin.  We also have a secondary objective which is to describe the migration ecology of this population.

 

 


Cait RottlerCaitlin Rottler, University of Wyoming Program in Ecology student

Advisor: Indy Burke

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I grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and during my undergraduate degree, I developed an interest in the relationships between people and arid/ semi-arid lands.  My current research focuses broadly on the impacts of human activities-- primarily those associated with energy development--  and climate change on semi-arid sagebrush steppe ecosystems in Wyoming.  Initially, I researched changes in vertical nutrient distribution in the soil across a sagebrush-lodgepole pine ecotone.  My future research will include plant community recovery, especially of forbs, on abandoned, unreclaimed well pads.

 


Ramesh SapkotaRamesh Sapkota, University of Wyoming Program in Ecology student

Advisor: Pete Stahl

I am interested to work in the field of Restoration Ecology. My PhD research will focus on investigating forest community assemblage and quantifying the changes in forest dominance and other environmental variables due to forest degradation in Nepal. I hope to understand the nexus between change in forest structure and increased human pressures. I will try to investigate successful techniques for restoring degraded forest ecosystems in my study areas.  

 

 


Kurt Smith

Kurt Smith, University of Wyoming Program in Ecology studentAdvisor: Jeffrey Beck

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I am broadly interested in fish and wildlife ecology, conservation, and management. My dissertation research seeks to identify response of Greater sage-grouse to treatments in Wyoming big sagebrush.

 


Heather Speckman

Advisor: Brent Ewers

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Lauren StantonLauren Stanton, University of Wyoming Program in Ecology student

Advisor: Sarah Benson-Amram

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My research interests lie in the cognitive mechanisms that facilitate adaptation. Specifically, I seek to understand how various aspects of cognition, such as innovation, learning, behavioral flexibility and personality, allow animals to cope with changing environments. I believe that, given our world’s current biodiversity crisis, it is increasingly important for us to examine how an animal’s ability to solve novel problems can increase its survival in a changing world. I will begin my dissertation research by investigating the advanced cognitive abilities of a familiar and highly adaptive species, the raccoon. By building an understanding of the skills raccoons employ when problem-solving, I hope to shed light on the cognitive processes used in successful adaptation to a variety of environments. Comparative studies between different populations, or among close relatives of raccoons, will further this understanding.  I anticipate that the results of my work will have important implications not only for wildlife conservation, but also for the welfare of ex-situ populations of animals living in captivity.

 


Rebecca UpjohnRebecca Upjohn, University of Wyoming Program in Ecology student

Advisors: Ann Hild and Tim Collier

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Currently, my research interests span multiple fields: plant ecology, restoration ecology, plant physiology, soil chemistry, and weed management.  My PhD dissertation research is focused mainly on  the stoichiometric flexibility of native and exotic species and how this might affect restoration of areas invaded by Russian olive.  I will be conducting a field survey, a field experiment and a greenhouse experiment that each investigate a different chapter of the stoichiometric flexibility "story".  Data from these studies may help restoration specialists select the best species for restoration projects involving alkaline WY soils and predict which secondary invaders might complicate restoration efforts.

 


Richard WalkerUniversity of Wyoming Program in Ecology student Richard Walker

 Advisor: Annika Walters

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My primary research interest lies within the broad realm of aquatic ecology.  I am mostly fascinated in understanding how disturbances, natural or anthropogenic, influence the ecology of headwater streams.  My current research projects cover a broad range of topics but are particularly focused on how organisms survive and adapt in stressful environments.  I am continually in pursuit of projects that examine the resistance and resilience of aquatic organisms to stream drying.  For my dissertation project, I will be evaluating how multiple stressors interact to affect ecological change in headwater streams across multiple levels of ecological organization (e.g. physiology, population dynamics, community structure, and some ecosystem level responses).  To address my research questions, I plan to synthesize multiple years of fish presence/absence data, implement in-situ manipulative experiments in headwater streams of the Green River in the Wyoming Range, as well as conduct controlled laboratory experiments in which multiple stressors will be manipulated to assess their interactive effects.  With these projects I hope to gain a better understanding of how multiple stressors interact within headwater streams to influence ecological change.  Furthermore, I plan to disseminate our finding to managers and conservationists in hopes that they can better inform and change environmental policies that protect highly vulnerable ecosystems like headwater streams.

 


Rebecca WilcoxRebecca Wilcox, University of Wyoming Program in Ecology student

Advisor: Corey Tarwater

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My research interests include invasive species, movement, animal behavior, community ecology and conservation. I work with the Hawaii VINE (Vertebrate Introductions and Novel Ecosystems) project on the island of Oahu, studying seed dispersal networks and how they have been affected by the presence of invasive plants and vertebrates. On this project my research focuses on how population dynamics of avian dispersers effect seed dispersal efficiency, the role that species interactions play in shaping species distributions, and the process of incorporating temporal and spatial dynamics into network analysis.

 


Megan WilsonUniversity of Wyoming Program in Ecology student Megan Wilson

Advisor: Tim Collier and Scott Shaw

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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.  

 


Yulia YarkhunovaYulia Yarkhunova, PhD student in University of Wyoming's Program in Ecology

Advisor: Cynthia Weinig

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My dissertation research focuses on the genetic basis of ecophysiological traits. More specifically, I'm studying how different Brassica rapa croptypes (cabbages, turnips, brocolletos and seedoils) vary in the expression of different ecophysiological traits like photosynthesis, stomatal conductance, biomass accumulation etc. For my current project, I'm growing Brassica rapa and associating those traits with circadian rhythms.

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