About Program in Ecology and Evolution's Mission and Aspirations

>Download the 2016 Program Overview document 

The Program in Ecology and Evolution (PiEE) is an interdepartmental doctoral program housed at the University of Wyoming in the high plains of Laramie.  PiEE is the largest PhD program at the University of Wyoming, and provides advanced, integrated training in the science of ecology.

The Program's central mission is to produce broadly trained scientists who will lead the field of ecology in the coming decades.  As part of their education, PiEE students develop skills in relevant technologies, gain exposure to a variety of disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives, and prepare to look ahead as new scientific opportunities and societal needs emerge.  The Program instills a strong commitment to advancing ecological knowledge and applying it effectively to problems of societal concern.

The Program is grounded in the natural history of organisms in their environment, but incorporates tools and perspectives from across the biological, physical, mathematical, computational, and earth sciences. Students develop conceptual, historical, and philosophical perspectives spanning the entire range of sub-disciplines in ecology, while receiving advanced training in the sub-discipline of their individual interest.  PiEE fosters long-term career development by exploring the linkages of ecology with other disciplines, and by scanning the ecological horizon or emerging questions, concepts, and approaches that will shape the field in years to come.

History of Program in Ecology & Evolution

PiE Students

The Program in Ecology and Evolution (PiEE) (f/k/a Program in Ecology) was created in 2005 by a group of five faculty members from three different departments at the University of Wyoming.  It originally began as a Ecology Project under a National Science Foundation grant administered by the Wyoming EPSCor Program.  In 2010 and 2011, PiEE has become a financially and administratively self-sufficient program, and is now housed in the Berry Biodiversity Conservation Center on the University of Wyoming campus.

The original cadre of PhD students in 2005 consisted of three students in Botany and Zoology/Physiology.  Since then, PiEE has grown to include 44 students, 93 alumni, 44 faculty members, 11 emeritus faculty and 14 affiliates.

The Program continues to expand and progress, largely due to a superbly engaged student body that seeks excellence in themselves and the program.  Click here to learn more about applying to the Program as a PhD student, or click here to learn more about applying as a faculty member.

Diversity and Inclusion in PiEE 

This statement was drafted and accepted by the Program in Ecology student body in Fall 2020, and will be revisited and updated at the beginning of each academic year.

The Program in Ecology and Evolution (PiEE) is a student-led interdisciplinary group; as such, we must work diligently to create a community of graduate students where all receive our collective support. Without student-led efforts, there would be no drive to succeed in creating a better space for everyone. Our strength is in our commitment together to valuing all people. Without this, we do a disservice to our field and one another. 

We recognize and acknowledge that the history of our field has been dominated by wealthy, heterosexual, cisgender, white males. Additionally, disabilities, either visible or invisible, have been collectively dismissed from STEM fields, particularly field-based research science. Historic lack of inclusion of marginalized groups has led to a loss of talent and growth in our field, along with compounding inequalities and systemic barriers. We understand it is our responsibility to foster a learning environment that serves all peoples and allows for growth. We take a stand against intolerance and discrimination based on sex, gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, class, religion, immigration status, and/or disability.

As we work and learn in the state of Wyoming, it is important that we understand the history of the land and its brief stewardship by the American states. We acknowledge that we are on the traditional homelands of the Očhéthi Šakówiŋ, Tséstho’e (Cheyenne), and  hinono’eino’ biito’owu’ (Arapaho) peoples. We acknowledge that we conduct research to grow our science on lands that have been taken from Native peoples and understand that this has led to the further widening of the opportunity gap for ancestral people of this land. In taking a first small step in mitigating damages done to the Native people of this land by the United States of America, Program in Ecology and Evolution  (PiEE) students are strongly encouraged to state the lands on which their research was conducted in any future publications and presentations. More information on the ancestral land of the university can be found here: https://www.uwyo.edu/naercc/indigenous-peoples-day/index.html. To foster an understanding of why land acknowledgments hold great importance, discussions on the subject will be incorporated into future PiEE Odyssey trips for incoming graduate students. We understand that international work does not always allow for such acknowledgements thus we request all graduate students take these above actions seriously and assess when it is appropriate to incorporate them.  

The inclusivity of mental health into diversity is also important to broaden our definitions of discrimination. We, the students of PiEE, address that mental health is a barrier to academic success. Thus, we pledge to support all students’ mental health endeavors, without judgement and discrimination. You can learn more about available resources for mental health on campus through the Wellspring Counseling Clinic (https://www.uwyo.edu/clad/counseling/wellspring-counseling-clinic.html) or the University Counseling Center website (https://www.uwyo.edu/ucc/).

Diversity is a changing and fluid term, encompassing multiple intersectional aspects of one’s identity. By limiting our definition of discrimination to the conventional descriptions, we likely exclude groups of individuals that do not conform to the rigid rhetoric of the accepted forms of discrimination. As scientists, we strive to approach our science without bias, but this is a perspective we may fail to incorporate into our day to day lives. Therefore, we commit to seeking out best practices for promoting diversity and inclusion, and recognize our collective responsibility to foster an environment where there are no barriers to equality in our community. 

More about Ecology

Click here to view a interview of Dr. Bob Hall, Previous Director of Program in Ecology, who discusses the difference between ecology and environmentalism.



Recent Publications from Program in Ecology and Evolution Students

Bolded names indicate students, alumni, and faculty associated with the Program in Ecology & Evolution. Asterisks indicate co-first authors. Publications are listed alphabetically by first author.


Alston, J.M.*, and J.A. Rick*. 2021. A beginner’s guide to conducting reproducible research. Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America. https://doi.org/10.1002/bes2.1801 

Barrett, L.P., and Benson-Amram, S. 2021. Multiple assessments of personality and problem-solving performance in captive Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) and African savanna elephants (Loxodonta africana). Journal of Comparative Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1037/com0000281 

Barrile, G.M., A.D. Chalfoun, & A.W. Walters. 2021. Infection status as the basis for habitat choices in a wild amphibian. The American Naturalist. https://doi.org/10.1086/711927 

Barrile, G. M., Walters, A.W., Webster, M., Chalfoun, A.D. 2021. Informed breeding dispersal following stochastic changes to patch quality in a pond-breeding amphibian. Journal of Animal Ecology. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2656.13503  

Boggs-Lynch, L., U. Norton*, & L. Van Diepen. 2021. Legacy of bark beetles (Dendroctonus spp.) on soil carbon and nitrogen cycling seven years after forest infestation. Forest Ecology and Management. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foreco.2021.119064 

Fleri, J.R., T.G. Martin, A.D. Rodewald, P. Arcese. 2021. Non-native earthworms alter plant community assembly. Biological invasions. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-021-02513-8

Fleri, J.R., S.A. Wessel, D.H. Atkins, N.W. Case, S.E. Albeke, D.C. Laughlin. 2021. Global Vegetation Project: An Interactive Online Map of Open-Access Vegetation Photos. Vegetation Classification and Survey. https://doi.org/10.3897/VCS/2021/60575

Klobucar, S.L., J.A. Rick, E.G. MandevilleC.E. Wagner, & P Budy. 2021. The morphological and genetic diversity of Arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus) populations in foothill lakes of Arctic Alaska. Accepted at Ecology & Evolution. https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.7211 

LaCava, M.E.F., R.B. Gagne, K.D. Gustafson, S.J. Oyler-McCance, K.L. Monteith, H. Sawyer, M.J. Kauffman, D.J. Thiele, H.B. Ernest. 2021. Functional connectivity in a continuously distributed, migratory species as revealed by landscape genomics. Ecography. https://doi.org/10.1111/ecog.05600 

Mackay, J., K. Nikiforuk, M.C. Szojka, C.J. Little, J.R. Fleri & R.M. Germain. 2021. Animals connect plant species and resources in a meta-ecosystem. Landscape Ecology. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10980-021-01244-4 

Sperry, J.H., D. O’Hearn, D.R. Drake, A.M. Hruska, S.B. Case, J. Vizentin-Bugoni, C. Arnett, T. Chambers, and C.E. Tarwater. 2021. Fruit and seed traits of native and invasive plant species in Hawai ‘i: implications for seed dispersal by non-native birds. Biological Invasions. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-021-02473-z 

Vizentin-Bugoni, J., J.H. Sperry, J.P. Kelley, J.M. Gleditsch, J.T. Foster, D.R. Drake, A.M. Hruska, R.C. Wilcox, S.B. Case, & C.E. Tarwater. 2021. Ecological correlates of species’ roles in highly invaded seed dispersal networks. Proceedings of the National Academy of Scienceshttps://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2009532118



Alston, J.M., M.J. Joyce, J.A. Merkle, and R.A. Moen. 2020. Temperature shapes movement and habitat selection of a heat-sensitive ungulate. Landscape Ecology. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10980-020-01072-y 

Ayayee, P.A., Kinney G., Yarnes, C., Larsen, T., Custer, G.F., van Diepen, L., Munoz-Garcia, A.
2020. Gut microbiome-mediated standard metabolic rate (SMR) responses to dietary shifts in the viviparous cockroach, Diploptera punctata. Journal of Experimental Biology. https://doi.org/10.1242/jeb.21827 

Bowman, C.N., A. Lindskog, N. Kozik, C. Richbourg, J.D. Owens, S.A. Young. 2020. Integrated sedimentary, biotic, and paleoredox dynamics from multiple localities in southern Laurentia during the late Silurian (Ludfordian) extinction event. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2020.109799 

Bowyer, R.T., K.M. Stewart, V.C. Bleich, J.C. Whiting, K.L. Monteith, M. E. Blum, and T.N. LaSharr. 2020. Metrics of harvest for ungulates: misconceptions, lurking variables, and prudent management. Alces. https://alcesjournal.org/index.php/alces/article/view/253 

Butrim, M.J., and Royer, D.L. 2020. Leaf-economic strategies across the Eocene-Oligocene transition correlate with dry season precipitation and paleoelevation. American Journal of Botany. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajb2.1580 

Case, S.B., and C.E. Tarwater. 2020. Functional traits of avian frugivores have shifted following species extinction and introduction in the Hawaiian Islands. Functional Ecology. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2435.13670 

Curran, M.F., Cox, S.E., Robinson, T.J., Robertson, B.L., Strom, C.F., & Stahl, P.D. 2020. Combining spatially balanced sampling, route optimisation and remote sensing to assess biodiversity response to reclamation practices on semi-arid well pads. Biodiversity, 1-11. https://doi.org/10.1080/14888386.2020.1733085 

Curran, M.F., Hodza, P., Cox, S.E., Lanning, S.G., Robertson, B.L., Robinson, T.J., & Stahl, P.D. 2020. Ground-level unmanned aerial system imagery coupled with spatially balanced sampling and route optimization to monitor rangeland vegetation. JoVE (Journal of Visualized Experiments). https://dx.doi.org/10.3791/61052 

Curran, M.F.,  Summerfield, K., Alexander, E.J., Lanning, S.G., Schwyter, A.R., Torres, M.L., . & Smith, D. I. 2020. Use of 3-Dimensional Videography as a Non-Lethal Way to Improve Visual Insect Sampling. Land. https://doi.org/10.3390/land9100340 

Custer, G.F., and Dibner, R.R. 2020. Modified methods for loading of high-throughput DNA extraction plates reduce risk of contamination. Journal of Visualized Experiments. https://doi.org/10.3791/61405 

Custer, G.F., and L. van Diepen. 2020. Plant invasion has limited impact on soil microbial alpha-diversity: a meta-analysis. Diversity. https://doi.org/10.3390/d12030112 

Custer, G.F., L. van Diepen, W. Stump. 2020. Structural and functional dynamics of soil microbes following spruce beetle infestation. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. https://doi.org/10.1128/AEM.01984-1 

Garzella, C., and D. Debinski. 2020. Using Biodiversity Data to Assess Species-Habitat Relationships in Glacier National Park, Montana ver 9. Environmental Data Initiative. https://doi.org/10.6073/pasta/ae3a9177915d63c4c49b7ca5afa665e2 

Godwin, B.L., M.E.F. LaCava, B. Mendelsohn, R.B. Gagne, K.D. Gustafson, S.M. Love Stowell, A. Engilis, Jr., L.A. Tell, H.B. Ernest. 2020. Novel hybrid finds a peri-urban niche: Allen's hummingbirds in souther California. Conservation Genetics. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10592-020-01303-4 

Junker, J*, JA Rick*,  PB McIntyre, I Kimirei, E Sweke, JB Mosille, B Wehrli, C Dinkel, S Mwaiko, O Seehausen, CE Wagner. 2020. Sex differentiation and chromosomal inversions lead to diversity in Lake Tanganyika sardines. Molecular Ecology. https://doi.org/10.1111/mec.15559 

Kauffman, K.M., T. Cornish, K. Monteith, B. Schumaker, T.N. LaSharr, K. Huggler, and M. Miller. 2020. Detection of Deer atadenovirus A DNA in dam and offspring pairs of mule deer and elk. Journal of Wildlife Disease.

LaCava, M.E.F., R.B. Gagne, S.M. Love Stowell, K.D. Gustafson, C.A. Buerkle, L. Knox, H.B. Ernest. 2020. Pronghorn population genomics show connectivity at the core of their range. Journal of Mammalogy. https://doi.org/10.1093/jmammal/gyaa054 

Maitland, B.M., Rahel, F.J. 2020. Non-lethal fin sampling of North American freshwater fishes for food-web studies using stable isotopes. North American Journal of Fisheries Management. https://doi.org/10.1002/nafm.10539 

Mendelsohn, B., B. Bedrosian, S.M. Love Stowell, R.B. Gagne, M.E.F. LaCava, B.L. Godwin, J.M. Hull, H.B. Ernest. 2020. Population genomic diversity and structure at the discontinuous southern range of the Great Gray Owl in North America. Conservation Genetics. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10592-020-01280-8 

Miller, S.W., M. Schroer, J.R. Fleri, T.A. Kennedy. 2020. Macroinvertebrate oviposition habitat selectivity and egg mass desiccation tolerances: implications for population dynamics in large regulated rivers. Freshwater Science. https://doi.org/10.1086/710237 

Ortega, A.C., S.P. Dwinnell, T.N. LaSharr, R.P. Jakopak, K. Denryter, K.S. Huggler, M.M. Hayes, E.O. Aikens, T.L. Verzuh, A.B. May, M.J. Kauffman, and K.L. Monteith. 2020. Effectiveness of partial sedation to reduce stress in captured mule deer. Journal of Wildlife Management. https://doi.org/10.1002/jwmg.21929 

Parsley, M.B., Torres, M.L., Banerjee, S.M., Tobias, Z.J.C., Goldberg, C.S., Murphy, M.A., and Mims, M.C. 2020 Multiple lines of genetic inquiry reveal effects of local and landscape factors on an amphibian metapopulation. Landscape Ecology. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10980-019-00948-y 

Schell, C, Stanton, L, Young, J, Angeloni, L, Lambert, J, Breck, S, & Murray, M. 2020. The evolutionary consequences of human-wildlife conflict in cities. Evolutionary Applications. https://doi.org/10.1111/eva.13131 

Stanton, L., E. Bridge, J. Huizinga, S. Johnson, J. Young, & S. Benson-Amram. 2020. Reversal learning in three highly adaptable generalists. Animal Cognition. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10071-020-01438-4 

Szojka, M.C., E.M. Bayne, T.I. Wellicome & J.W. Ng. 2020. The role of sibling competition and parental provisioning on food distribution among Ferruginous Hawk nestlings. Journal of Raptor Research. https://doi.org/10.3356/0892-1016-54.4.376 

Walsworth, T.E., J.R. Baldock, C.E. Zimmerman, & D.E. Schindler. 2020. Interaction between watershed features and climate forcing affects habitat profitability for juvenile salmon. Ecosphere. https://doi.org/10.1002/ecs2.3266 



Alston, J.M., Maitland, B.M., Brito, B.T., Ford, A.T., Hays, B., Jesmer, B.R., Molina, F.J., Goheen, J.R. 2019. Reciprocity in restoration ecology: when might large carnivore reintroductions restore ecosystems? Biological Conservation. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2019.03.021

Apple, M.E., Ricketts, M., and Martin, A., 2019. Plant and microbial functional types at the snowfields and periglacial patterned ground of Glacier National Park. Journal of Geographical Sciences. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11442-019-1649-3 

Barrett, L*, Stanton, L*, & Benson-Amram, S. 2019 The cognition of ‘nuisance’ species. Animal Behaviour. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.anbehav.2018.05.005 

Curran, M.F., Cox, S.E., Robinson, T.J., Robertson, B.L., Rogers, K.J., Sherman, Z.A., . & Stahl, P. D. 2019. Spatially balanced sampling and ground‐level imagery for vegetation monitoring on reclaimed well pads. Restoration Ecology. https://doi.org/10.1111/rec.12956 

Fleri, J.R., S. Lera, A. Gerevini, L.W. Staver, W. Nardin. 2019. Empirical and numerical modelling of tides, channel morphology, and vegetation on sediment fluxes in a restored tidal marsh. Earth Surface Processes and Landform. https://doi.org/10.1002/esp.4646 

Hickerson, B.H., Maitland, B.M., Walters, A.W. 2019. Effects of multiple non-native predatory fish on an imperiled cyprinid, Hornyhead Chub (Nocomis biggutus). Transactions of the American Fisheries Society. https://doi.org/10.1002/tafs.10203 

Kirk, M.A., Maitland, B.M., Rahel, F.J. 2019. Spatial scale, reservoirs and nonnative species influence the homogenization & differentiation of Great Plains—Rocky Mountain fish faunas. Hydrobiologia. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10750-019-04129-5 

LaCava, M.E.F.E.O. AikensL.C. Megna, G. Randolph, C. HubbardC.A. Buerkle. 2019. Accuracy of de novo assembly of DNA sequences from double-digest libraries varies substantially among software. Molecular Ecology Resources. https://doi.org/10.1111/1755-0998.13108 

LaSharr, T., R. Long, J. Heffelfinger, R.T. Bowyer, V. Bleich, P. Krausman, J. Shannon, R. Klaver, C.E. Brewer, M. Cox, A.A. Holland, C.P. Lehman, J.D. Muir, B. Sterling, and K. Monteith. 2019. Hunting and mountain sheep: do current harvest practices affect horn growth? Evolutionary Applications. https://doi.org/10.1111/eva.12841 

LaSharr, T., R. Long, J. Heffelfinger, R.T. Bowyer, V. Bleich, P. Krausman, J. Shannon, E. Rominger, C. Lehman, M. Cox, and K. Monteith. 2019. Biological relevance of antler, horn, and pronghorn size in records programs. Journal of Mammalogy. https://doi.org/10.1093/jmammal/gyz123 

Maitland, B.M., O’Malley, B.P., Stewart, D.J. 2019. Subsurface water piping prevents meromixisis in a deep volcanic crater lake (Dominica, W.I.). Hydrobiologia. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10750-019-04000-7 

Schmidt, L.E.A., R.E. Dunn, J. Mercer, M. Dechesne, E.D. Currano. Plant and insect herbivore community variation across the Paleocene–Eocene boundary in the Hanna Basin, southeastern Wyoming. PeerJ. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.7798   

Contact Us

Program in Ecology

Transdisciplinary Program

Debbie Swierczek, Program Coordinator

School of Graduate Education
Knight Hall 247

Phone: 307-766-4128

Email: ecology@uwyo.edu


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