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Paige Copenhaver

Meet the Science Posse

PhD. Candidate in Ecology

Graduate Fellow

Topics Paige Can Bring to Your Classroom:

Forest Ecology
Statistical Modeling
Vegetation Ecology
Community Ecology
Climate Change/ Climate Modeling
GPS/GIS/Spatial Analysis


B.S. in Biology, George Fox University

Current Research:

In my research, I try to develop new ways to quantify interactions between conifer tree species in the Rocky Mountains. Trees that grow in the same area often compete for resources, and a species’ ability to compete will often contribute to determining where that species can be found (the species distribution). Species distributions are also influenced by climate and dispersal ability. Understanding how species distributions will change as climate changes is a big topic of research in ecology, but most of our predictions are based only on the relationship between climate and species occurrence. I am using my data on interactions and competitive ability of three Rocky Mountain conifer species (lodgepole pine, ponderosa pine, Douglas fir) to understand how interactions influence distributions relative to climate, and to develop new modeling methods that incorporate interactions and allow competitive ability to vary with changes in climate. These models will be important for making better predictions of changes in species distributions under future climate.


I was born and raised in Portland, OR. Growing up, I spent a lot of time hiking and camping in the forest with my family. I have always cared about environmental issues and conserving forests, and decided at a young age that I wanted to be a forest ecologist. I went to college near Portland and earned a degree in biology with an emphasis in ecology and field biology in 2011. While in college, I worked with an ecologist on a research project on garter snakes. This opportunity helped me to realize how much I loved research, but by the time I was finished I was very ready to leave snakes behind and spend my time researching trees! I moved out to Wyoming in 2012 for graduate school to pursue a PhD in ecology. I work with a forest ecologist here and get to spend my summers hiking around in the forests of the Rocky Mountains collecting data. When I’m not doing research, I love to run, read and hike. I am passionate about science and the work that I do, and I am very enthusiastic about sharing this passion with students!

In the end we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught. -Baba Dioum

I have always loved spending time in forests and mountains, and now I am very fortunate to be able to spend my time researching how forests and trees respond to climate change! I work on improving modeling methods that predict future forest tree species distributions by finding ways to incorporate interactions among species into models. I am passionate about science and the work that I do, and I absolutely love sharing this enthusiasm with students! When I’m not doing research, I love to run, read, hike and cook. I have found teaching to be one of the most rewarding pieces of my graduate school experience, and I look forward to sharing my knowledge and passion with students as a part of the Science Posse!

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