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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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Program in Ecology and Evolution Faculty & Emeritus

Program in Ecology and Evolution Faculty & Emeritus represent many different departments and offer diverse expertise and interests, but all share a core commitment to research and graduate training in ecology. All students enrolled in PiEE are advised or co-advised by a PiEE Faculty member.

>>Information on becoming a Program in Ecology and Evolution faculty member

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Jeffrey BeckJeffrey Beck, University of Wyoming Program in Ecology faculty

Professor, Department of Ecosystem Science and Management
E-mail: jlbeck@uwyo.edu     |     Web Page    

Students: Jonathan Lautenbach
Alumni: Clay Buchanan, Courtney Duchardt, Aaron Pratt, Kurt Smith, 

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My research interests lie in wildlife habitat ecology and restoration ecology with a focus on restoring the functionality and structure of wildlife habitats in disturbed rangeland systems, particularly sagebrush habitats.  The types of research questions that my lab addresses typically are guided by ecological concepts that are used as a framework to evaluate conservation questions.  Two general areas of emphasis that my lab is pursuing are: (1) understanding the direct and indirect impacts of anthropogenic development on vertebrate species (greater sage-grouse and ungulates as model taxa) inhabiting sagebrush habitats, and (2) evaluating the efficacy of mitigation techniques and conservation practices intended to enhance habitat conditions or mitigate effects of anthropogenic development in sagebrush habitats.  In all studies we seek to understand responses of habitat restoration efforts across a range of spatial and temporal scales to better inform conservation practices.


Nicole Bedford Nicole Bedford Photo

Assistant Professor, Department of Zoology and Physiology 

Email: anelso74@uwyo.edu    |   Web Page

Students: 

 

The Bedford Lab works at the intersection of evolutionary biology and systems neuroscience to understand the genetic and neural basis of behavior. As a model neural circuit, we use voluntary micturition, or the decision of when and where to urinate. Micturition is an essential physiological process that expels waste and maintains water balance, but many species also use urine marks as a form of social communication. Both laboratory and wild mice show considerable natural variation in aggression, territoriality, and scent marking behavior. We combine laboratory and field studies to uncover how differences in micturition arise both within and among species.

 


Merav Ben-David

Professor, Department of Zoology and PhysiologyMerav Ben-David, University of Wyoming Program in Ecology faculty
E-mail: bendavid@uwyo.edu     |     Web Page 

Students: Braden Godwin, Christina Sluka
Alumni: Adi Barocas, Jamie Crait, Carolyn Eckrich, Kristina Harkins, Eric Quallen, John Whiteman

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My main interest revolves around the interaction between animal behavioral ecology, population dynamics, and ecosystem function. I mainly study carnivores and use the transport of nutrient from sea to land as a model system. To study those interactions, I use isotopic and genetic tracers. For example, I investigate the effects of trade-off between nutritional requirements and risk of infanticide on consumption of salmon by female brown bears, and how female decisions made based on this trade-off influence the transfer of salmon-derived nutrients to terrestrial vegetation.


Riley Bernard riley bernard

Assistant Professor, Department of Zoology and Physiology

E-mail: rbernar5@uwyo.edu     |     Web Page  

Student: Renee Lile

Alumni

      

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Is an applied wildlife ecologist and Assistant Professor in the Department of Zoology and Physiology at the University of Wyoming. Her research focuses on the ecology and behavior of small mammals and amphibians on topics such as foraging, competition, invasive species interactions, the effects of disease on community structure, species susceptibility and survival. She also uses tools from Decision Science to ensure the questions she seeks to answer provide the best information for wildlife and natural resource managers to make tractable and robust decisions.

Has conducted research in a number of countries, including Australia, Costa Rica, Cambodia, Puerto Rico, and throughout the United States.


Matt CarlingMatt Carling, University of Wyoming Program in Ecology faculty

Associate Professor, Department of Zoology and Physiology
E-mail: mcarling@uwyo.edu      |     Web Page    

Students: Libby Megna

Alumni: Shawn Billerman, Paul Dougherty

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Research in my lab focuses on understanding the processes of speciation and adaptation in birds. While we focus primarily on these questions from a genetic perspective, we must also consider the environments inhabited by the birds we study. Current projects include: 1) a detailed dissection of gene flow and introgression across the hybrid zone between Lazuli (Passerina ameona) and Indigo (Passerina cyanea) buntings; 2) a broad comparative hybrid zone study focusing on a number of avian species pairs that hybridize in the Great Plains (e.g. Passerina buntings, Icterus orioles, and Pipilo towhees); 3) patterns of functional differentiation in Tachycineta swallows; and 4) a investigation of the impact of extreme environments (high elevation, high latitude) on the evolution of mitochondrial genes.

 


Anna Chalfoun

Anna Chalfoun, University of Wyoming Program in Ecology facultyAssociate Professor, Department of Zoology and Physiology
Wyoming Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit
E-mail: achalfou@uwyo.edu     |     Web Page    

Students: Emily Shertzer

Alumni: Gabriel Barrile, Jason Carlisle, Katherine Gura, Embere Hall

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I study wildlife-habitat relationships and the ecological, behavioral, and evolutionary processes underlying patterns in habitat use and quality at multiple spatial scales. My lab is currently focused on the influence of anthropogenic changes to habitats (e.g., via oil and natural gas extraction) on non-game wildlife species including songbirds, small mammals and herpetofauna, especially within sagebrush systems. My work has also focused on broad scale life history patterns and avian parental care behaviors.

 


Dave Christianson

PiE faculty member Dave ChristiansonAssociate Professor, Departments of Ecosystem Science and Management
Email: david.christianson@uwyo.edu 

Students: Laura Diakiw, Jeffrey Wagner

I explore the interaction between top-down, bottom-up, and environmental effects on individuals, populations, communities and ecosystems to better understand our world, provide better answers to stakeholders, and to train the next generation of thinkers and problem-solvers.

 

 

 


Mark ClementzMark Clementz, University of Wyoming Program in Ecology faculty

Professor, Department of Geology and Geophysics
E-mail: mclemen1@uwyo.edu     |     Web Page 

Alumni: Morgan Churchill

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My research interests center on understanding the ecological relationships among organisms within ancient ecosystems. For the past several years, I have been particularly interested in the study of the evolutionary ecology of marine mammals including sirenians (e.g., manatees, dugongs) and cetaceans (e.g., whales, dolphins, porpoises). The primary tools I use for this research are stable isotope analyses of the inorganic and organic fraction of fossil remains, which can provide information on the diet and habitat preferences of extinct organisms that might not be interpretable from the morphology or depositional setting. Recently, an increasing component of my research has included work in modern marine and terrestrial ecosystems as a means of testing interpretations of geochemical results from fossil remains. Two examples of these projects include a long term study of the feeding habits of manatees in the Indian River Lagoon of Florida and analysis of lifetime feeding habits and nutritional ecology of desert tortoises in the Sonoran and Mojave Deserts with colleagues at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park.


Tim Collier Image of Tim Collier

Associate Professor, Department of Ecosystem Science and Management
E-mail: tcollier@uwyo.edu     |     Web Page 

Students: Alexis Hollander, Megan Wilson

Alumni: Rebecca Upjohn

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My research encompasses the theoretical and applied aspects of insect ecology and biological control, the use of living organisms to control insect pests and weeds. A current research focus is the behavioral and population ecology of host specificity in insects used as weed biological control agents. The primary question is: what behavioral and ecological factors influence host specificity and impact of biological control agents in the field? The key goal is to maximize impact on the weed and minimize impact on native, non-target species. A second area of research involves interactions among parasitoid wasps used in biological control of Hawaiian fruit fly pests. Here the key issue is coexistence of competing species, and direct and indirect interactions in parasitoid-host food webs.


Sarah Collinssarah collins

Assistant Professor, Departments of Zoology and Physiology
Email: sarah.collins@uwyo.edu   |   Web Page

Students: Linnea Rock

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Research in my lab focuses on freshwater ecosystem ecology, including elemental cycling, food web dynamics and their relevance to applied water quality issues. We ask questions about ecological patterns and processes through field studies in a variety of temperate and tropical ecosystems. In addition to field projects, I participate in several synthesis groups about freshwater ecosystems at regional to continental scales, which include collaborations with computer scientists and statisticians. Overall, work in my lab aims to develop the approaches and concepts to understand how accelerating human-driven changes in terrestrial landscapes and climate are reflected in aquatic ecosystems at local to continental scales.

 


Ellen CurranoEllen Currano, University of Wyoming Program in Ecology faculty

Professor, Departments of Botany and Geology/Geophysics
Email: ecurrano@uwyo.edu

Students: Matt Butrim, Claudia Richbourg

Alumni: Lauren Azevelo-Schmidt

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I am a paleoecologist who uses fossil plants to investigate the response of ancient forest ecosystems to environmental perturbations. Specifically, how did environmental changes affect taxonomic diversity, ecosystem structure, plant-insect interactions, and biogeographic patterns? By understanding how ecosystems reacted to past changes, we can better predict how modern ecosystems will respond to anthropogenic changes like CO2-induced global warming. The research conducted in my lab is field-based, specimen-based, and collaborative. Current research focuses on: 1) biotic response to climate changes during the hothouse Paleogene in the Western US, particularly Wyoming, and 2) the evolution of East African terrestrial ecosystems over the last 30 million years. Outreach activities include co-founding The Bearded Lady Project: Challenging the Face of Science, a documentary film and photography project that investigates our stereotypes of what a field scientist looks like. 


Michael Dillon

Professor, Department of Zoology and PhysiologyMichael Dillon, University of Wyoming Program in Ecology faculty
Email: michael.dillon@uwyo.edu     |     Web Page    

Students: Craig GarzellaEllen Keaveny, Sarah Waybright, Sabrina White
Alumni: Susma Giri, Kennan Oyen

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I am broadly interested how physiology dictates interactions of organisms with their environments. In my group, we combine field work with laboratory experiments and modeling to study physiological ecology primarily of insects, which are diverse morphologically, evolutionarily, and physiologically and thrive in all environments on earth. Some current projects include: flight and thermal physiology of alpine bumblebees, overwintering physiology of native bees, and the effects of fine scale spatial and temporal variation in climate on organism physiology and ecology.

 


Brent EwersBrent E. Ewers, University of Wyoming Program in Ecology faculty

Professor, Department of Botany
E-mail: beewers@uwyo.edu     |     Web Page 

Students: Tim Aston, Trevor Bloom, Bridger Huhn
Alumni: Julia Angstmann, John Frank, Kusum Naithani, David Reed, Heather Speckman

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The main question driving Dr. Brent E. Ewers laboratory’s research is how does plant physiology control fluxes of mass and energy at scales ranging from plant organs to landscapes. Ongoing projects investigate a wide range of nonvascular, woody and herbaceous plants inhabiting near-pristine, heavily disturbed, crops and controlled environments. Brent's lab leads or collaborates on current projects investigating bark beetle-induced mortality impacts on forest ecosystem processes, influence of vegetation on the hydrological cycle and the role of genetics in plant responses to stress.


William Fetzer
fetzer_lmgizzardshad.jpg

Assistant Professor, Department of Zoology and Physiology
E-mail: wfetzer@uwyo.edu    |     Web Page 

StudentsJordan Brewin, Kaitlyn McKnight

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My research interests lie at the interface of basic and applied research and I aim to answer questions directly relevant to the management and conservation of fisheries and freshwater ecosystems.  Specifically, I am interested in spatial and temporal responses of aquatic food webs to anthropogenic perturbations, such as climate change, invasive species, and eutrophication. I use multiple approaches and incorporate diverse sources of information to evaluate how direct and indirect drivers interact to drive complex, often unexpected outcomes. To ensure that my science is applicable to conservation, management and policy development, I directly engage and communicate my findings to stakeholders, managers, and policy makers.

My ecological research themes include:Animal, Aquatic, Ecosystems, Isotope Tracers, Organismal, Population and Community


Tucker J. Furniss    Tucker Furniss Photo

Assistant Professor, Ecosystem Science & Management

Email: tucker.furniss@uwyo.edu    |     Web Page

Students: Brittany Hays

My research focuses on forests, tree mortality, and disturbance ecology of western landscapes. He uses a combination of field-based longitudinal monitoring, remote sensing, and process-based simulation models to understand how climate, management, and ecological processes are influencing the structure, function, and resilience of forest ecosystems. Tucker is motivated by a deep passion for our western forests and is devoted to producing research that informs science-based management and policy on public lands.


 

Sara Germain Sara Germain Photo

Assistant Professor, Department of Botany

Email: sgermain@uwyo.edu     |   Web Page

Students: Sheryl Cramer, Jared Friedman, Kelly Goodwin

 

My research blends dendroecological techniques with community ecology to understand how mechanisms of individual tree survival give rise to forest change, particularly in response to climate and climate-altered disturbance regimes. Currently, my field sites include ForestGEO demography plots in and Grand Teton, WY; Yosemite, CA; Wind River, WA; and Cedar Breaks, UT. Here, I identify proximate causes of tree mortality - including bark beetles, invasive pathogens, and fire - and then integrate these observations with fine-scale maps of forest composition, structure, edaphic features, and measurements of tree anatomical characteristics. This field-based approach lends to an empirical understanding of 1) how forest communities and disturbances are changing, 2) the climatological and environmental conditions structuring that change, and 3) attributes that impart resistance and resilience across individual, population, and community scales. Part of what we're finding is that climate change is contributing to novel interactions between trees, tree enemies, and tree mutualists - many of which are responsible for vast changes in forest cover across the western USA. Whether and at what pace these dynamics are giving rise to permanent ecosystem state changes is a primary research question in my lab.

 


Jacob GoheenJacob R. Goheen, University of Wyoming Program in Ecology faculty

Professor, Department of Zoology and Physiology
E-mail: jgoheen@uwyo.edu     |     Web Page    

Students: Annabella Helman, Leo KhasohaDedan Ngatia, Douglas Njeri
Alumni: Abdullahi Ali, Jesse Alston, Brett Jesmer

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My research interests lie at the nexus of conservation biology and community ecology. Currently, I am devoted to two research programs: 1) examining how the loss of megaherbivores and other wildlife affects rangeland dynamics in savanna ecosystems through the Ungulate Herbivory Under Rainfall Uncertainty (UHURU); and 2) investigating the interplay between community saturation and human disturbances across wildlife assemblages. Graduate projects in my research group span a breadth of topics, and include precipitation and herbivory as filters to plant community assembly, foraging efficiency/risk tradeoffs in herbivores, community- and ecosystem-level consequences of wildlife restoration in Mozambique, small mammal responses to ungulate extirpations, and landscape change and conservation of a globally-endangered antelope in northeastern Kenya. 

 


Joe Holbrookjoe holbrook

Assistant Professor, Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources & Department of Zoology and Physiology

Email: joe.holbrook@uwyo.edu   |  Web Page

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My research focuses on an integration of population and community ecology. Three main questions underpin this focus: (1) Why are animals where they are?, (2) How does environmental change influence animals?, and (3) What roles do animals fulfill within the broader ecological community? In addition, I am keenly interested in the interaction between humans and the environment, which has large implications for policy, land management, and conservation solutions. These broad interests necessarily require diverse partnerships, datasets, and analytical techniques. Indeed, my partners and I are continually looking for ways to integrate concepts and approaches to gain additional insight and identify conservation opportunities. I generally work with mammalian carnivores, which have spanned from jaguarundis and badgers within rangelands to Canada lynx, wolverine, and mountain lions within forests. Applied issues motivate my work, but I strive to place these questions within a strong theoretical foundation to advance both management and science. 

 


Kristina Hufford hufford

Associate Professor, Department of Ecosystem Science and Management
E-mail: khufford@uwyo.edu    |     Web Page    

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The primary focus of my laboratory is the study of the consequences of community and population-level variation for the long-term sustainability of restored plant communities. I am an evolutionary ecologist with interests in conservation and restoration. My research is focused on the adaptation of plant populations to local environments, and the implications of adaptive variation for the restoration of native plant communities. I study spatial and temporal patterns of selection using techniques in field ecology, molecular genetics and bioinformatics. Topics of interest include the spatial scale of local adaptation, and the fitness consequences of intraspecific hybridization among wild plant populations. I am also interested in pursuing questions that link population-level studies to larger geographic scales and trophic interactions. 

 


Matthew KauffmanMatthew J. Kauffman, University of Wyoming Program in Ecology faculty

Professor, Department of Zoology and Physiology
Leader, Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit
E-mail: mkauffm1@uwyo.edu     |     Web Page 

Students: Luke Wilde 

Alumni: Ellen Aikens, Brett Jesmer, Doug Keinath, Arthur Middleton, Anna Ortega

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My research interests range from demography and population dynamics of animal species, to community-level consequences of herbivory and predation, and landscape ecology of wildlife populations. A common theme of much of my work is a desire to connect ecological research with applied conservation issues, particularly regarding animal populations. Some recent projects have evaluated the management and recovery of peregrine falcons, the effects of range management on carnivores in southern Africa, the dynamics of elk populations, and trophic interactions among wolves, elk and aspen. Much of my current work, and that of my students, is focused on the ecology and management of Rocky Mountain ungulates and their predators. Nevertheless, interesting ecological questions that have a bearing on real-world conservation will always capture my interest regardless of taxa or study system. As the Assistant Unit Leader for Wildlife at the Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, my research program also addresses the priority needs of state and federal wildlife managers. Consequently, students in my lab often work closely with wildlife managers outside of academia.


Patrick Kelley   Patrick Kelley Photo

Research Scientist, Assistant, Department of Zoology and Physiology

E-mail: patrick.kelley@uwyo.edu     |     Web Page

Students: 

Research Interests: Animal Behavior, Behavioral Ecology, Ecological Statistics.

Research Summary: The Behavioral Complexity Lab is broadly interested in how environments shape individual behavior and how these behaviors impact vulnerability to selective agents (such as climate or predation). Focusing mainly on tropical birds in Panama and Hawaii (but branching out into other taxa such as jumping spiders too), our lab research integrates intensive field-based studies of multiple taxa, quantitative behavioral analysis (especially bioacoustics), physiology (primarily stress hormones), artificial intelligence, and traditional ecological modeling to explore the interplay between natural selection and complex phenotypes. To this end, the lab explores novel ways (causal AI, deep-learning) to detect and measure complex behaviors that form the basis of fundamental ecological phenomena such as competition and predation.


Corrine "Corrie" Knapp Corrie Knapp Photo

Associate Professor, Environment and Society

Center for Climate, Water, and People

Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources

Email: corrie.knapp@uwyo.edu    |  Web Page

Students: 

 

My research interests are at the confluence of climate change, conservation & livelihoods. Using a social-ecological approach, she works in climate change adaptation, local and indigenous knowledge, sense of place, and conservation innovation. She has a deep commitment and passion for Western landscapes, rangelands, and the human and ecological communities that depend on them.


John Koprowski John Koprowski Photo

Professor, Haub School of Environment & Natural Resources

Email: jkoprows@uwyo.edu    |  Web Page

Students: 

Dr. Koprowski’s research program has focused on the ecology, conservation, and management of biodiversity through community based approaches in the United States, Mexico, Peru, Colombia, Nepal, China, Mongolia, South Africa, and numerous other international locations. With more than 180 peer-reviewed articles and books, John and his nearly 50 graduate students have worked to provide data-informed solutions to conservation challenges. His efforts in wildlife conservation have led to his election as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, The Wildlife Society, and the Linnean Society of London.


Amy KristAmy Krist

Associate Professor, Department of Zoology and Physiology
E-mail: krist@uwyo.edu     |     Web Page

Students: Spencer Cruz

Alumni: Michele Larson

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In my research, I seek to develop our understanding of host-parasite relationships and the biology of invasions in an ecological and evolutionary context. For example, I study the role of ecological stoichiometry in the success of the non-native New Zealand mud snail and the ecological and evolutionary consequences of the introduction of lake trout to zooplankton in Yellowstone Lake. Using snail- trematode interactions, I also study the consequences of parasitism to the evolution of host-life histories and how varying the stoichiometry of food alters the outcome of snail-trematode interactions.


Daniel LaughlinImage of Daniel Laughlin

Professor, Department of Botany

Email: daniel.laughlin@uwyo.edu  | Web Page

Students: David Atkins, Jesse Fleri, Hailey Mount

Alumni: Alice Stears

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The Laughlin research lab develops quantitative approaches to understand and predict how plant communities respond to global change. We develop trait-based models that translate ecological processes into statistical frameworks to predict how communities assemble along environmental gradients and how species interact at local scales. The goal for these models is not only to gain a deeper understanding of basic ecological processes, but also to inform the restoration of degraded ecosystems.

  


Rongsong LiuRongsong Liu, University of Wyoming Program in Ecology faculty

Professor, Departments of Mathematics and Zoology and Physiology
E-mail: rliu1@uwyo.edu

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My research interests are mathematical biology, differential equations, dynamical systems, and their interface. My research projects involve formulation, analysis and applications of deterministic mathematical models for infectious diseases and ecological systems. The models are aimed to answer questions and help gain useful insights for the biological systems being investigated. Based on the theoretical analysis and numerical simulations, we describe useful quantitative behaviors of model solutions and tackle which factors are most important in determining these behaviors. Together with collaborating biologists, we provide biological interpretations of the mathematical results, as insights and predictions. From time to time, we need to develop new or improve existing mathematical theories and techniques to provide satisfactory solutions to questions posed by collaborating biologists.

 


Jeffrey A. LockwoodJeffrey A. Lockwood, University of Wyoming Program in Ecology faculty

Professor, Department of Philosophy
Director, Master's in Fine Arts program
E-mail: lockwood@uwyo.edu     |     Web Page   

Alumni: Christa Cooper Sumner

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I conduct research that focuses on studies, analyses, explorations, syntheses, critiques, and expressions of the interface between natural sciences and the humanities/arts. This work includes, but is not limited to, philosophy and creative writing. My studies in philosophy pertain to environmental and natural resource ethics, as well as environmental justice. My efforts in writing are primarily in the genre of creative non-fiction and nature writing, including book-length works, essays, and shorter pieces. I also pursue scholarly studies at the interface between religion and the natural sciences, with a focus on the transcendental tradition, intellectual pluralism/pragmatism, and panentheistic perspectives.


Jerod Merklemerkle-web.jpg

Assistant Professor, Department of Zoology and Physiology
Email:jmerkle@uwyo.edu  |     Web Page  

Students: Molly Caldwell, Anne Scholle, Tana Verzuh 

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I am a quantitative wildlife ecologist with broad interests in understanding how the movement of animals relates to environmental heterogeneity and change, and how these interactions scale to population- and landscape-level ecological processes. My specific research foci include movement and migration ecology, fitness consequences of behavior, how cognition and innovation influence foraging behavior, and conservation and management of large mammals.


Thomas MinckleyThomas Minckley, University of Wyoming Program in Ecology faculty

Professor, Department of Geology & Geophysics
Email:minckley@uwyo.edu     |     Web Page  

Students: Jonathan Bowler

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My interests lie in how ecosystems have responded to past climate changes.  I am a paleoecologist who works primarily on arid and semi-arid ecosystems (deserts to forests) in western North America and how those ecosystems respond to prolonged climate change like drought and to short-term disturbances like floods and fires.  The primary tool I use for analyzing past ecosystem dynamics is pollen, macrobotanical remains and charcoal deposited on and contained within lake and wetland sediments.  My lab currently has projects looking at the interactions between climate forcing and changes in stable states of desert wetland and grassland.  I am investigating the resilience of western forests to prolonged drought (century to millennial scale) that may be coupled with changes in fire-regimes as possible analogs to future forest dynamics under climate change scenarios.

 


Kevin MonteithKevin Monteith, University of Wyoming Program in Ecology faculty

Professor, Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources and Department of Zoology and Physiology
Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit
Email: kevin.monteith@uwyo.edu   |   Web Page

Alumni: Ellen Aikens, Tayler LaSharr, Rachel Smiley

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My research program is focused on integrating nutritional ecology with intensive field studies of large ungulates to elucidate the mechanisms that underpin behavior, growth, reproductive allocation, predator-prey dynamics, and ultimately, the factors affecting population growth.  My graduate students and I are currently conducting research on most of Wyoming’s large ungulates; topics are centered on establishing a protocol for habitat-based, sustainable management of ungulate populations, while investigating the effects of predation, habitat alteration, climate change, migration tactics, and novel disturbance through the lens of nutrition.

 


Melanie A. Murphy

Director, Program in Ecology

Professor, Departmentmelanie_goofy---melanie-murphy.jpg of Ecosystem Science and Management, Ag C 2027
E-mail:melanie.murphy@uwyo.edu     |     Web Page   

Students: Rachel Arrick, Kathryn DavisBeth Fitzpatrick, Melanie Torres

Alumni: Charlotte Gabrielson

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My research program is focused on addressing applied questions of ecological complexity at landscape scales utilizing tools from landscape ecology and population genetics.  The goal of my research is to address complex ecosystem dynamics, focusing on biodiversity (distribution and abundance) and functional connectivity in areas of management and conservation concern.  My objective is to incorporate ecological research and alternative management scenarios to assess sustainability.  While most of my current work focuses on amphibians and related ecological systems, I have experience with a broad range of taxonomic groups and their related ecological systems: carnivores, ungulates, small mammals, birds, and a coniferous plant.  I expect build a research program addressing a broad range of taxonomic groups with a focus on rangeland systems.  I have three major interrelated areas of research: 1) Ecosystem Biodiversity - ecological and anthropogenic processes and how they constrain species distributions, 2) Functional Connectivity - system connectivity and how it limits population persistence, and 3) Landscape Change - impact of alternative future landscape conditions on ecosystem sustainability.


Adam C. Nelson   Adam Nelson Photo

Assistant Professor, Department of Zoology and Physiology

Email: anelso74@uwyo.edu    |     Web Page

Students: 

Research Interests: Neural circuits | social interaction | group behavior | sensory biology.

Our goal is to understand how behavioral responses are made possible by neural circuits integrating inputs from internal states and sensory cues. We study various strains of mice in a naturalistic social context, and use a variety of molecular, genetic, and computational tools to address how organization in social interaction arises.  


Urszula NortonUrszula Norton, University of Wyoming Program in Ecology faculty

Professor, Department of Plant Sciences
E-mail: unorton@uwyo.edu    |     Web Page

Students:

Alumni: Liana Boggs Lynch, Chloe Mattilio

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My research lies within the areas of both basic and applied science, concentrating on questions formed to evaluate the impact of anthropogenic or chronic disturbances on ecological underpinnings of ecosystem resiliency and sustainability. As a biogeochemist I am drawn toward understanding the linkages between belowground N and C cycling and ecosystem functions. I am interested in agroecological principles governing sustainable food production in time of diminishing natural resources and environmental change and the short and long-term consequences of climate variability on ecosystems services. In my research approach I investigate a variety of soil, air and plant indices that are most sensitive to environmental change such as greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide) and labile and stable organic matter pools. Methodologies I often employ include GHG measurements, assays for determining potentially mineralizable C and N, and gross rates of mineralization using 15N enrichment techniques. I am currently involved in the following projects: (1) Quantifying the impact of a massive bark beetle outbreak on carbon, water and nutrient cycling and regeneration of southern Wyoming lodgepole pine forests; (2) Development and transfer of conservation agriculture production systems for small-holder farms in eastern Uganda and western Kenya; (3) Effects of cropping-system, irrigation method, and soil properties on soil nitrogen and organic matter dynamics in the Big Horn Basin; and, (4) Economic and environmental sustainability of conventional, reduced-input, and organic approaches on western crop-range-livestock farms.

 


Frank J. RahelFrank J. Rahel, University of Wyoming Program in Ecology faculty

Professor, Department of Zoology and Physiology
E-mail: frahel@uwyo.edu     |     Web Page   

Alumni: Eriek Hansen, Bryan Maitland, Mark KirkDan Gibson-Reinemer 

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My research involves fish ecology with a particular focus on streams, habitat relationships, and landscape ecology. My graduate students and I are addressing issues of fish habitat use and movement patterns in regards to both large spatial scales and patchiness. We are interested in what constitutes a habitat patch, how patches are rearranged by disturbances such as floods, and what factors influence fish movement among patches. Another area of interest is the homogenization of aquatic biota across the world through habitat alteration and species introductions. Much of our research involves species of conservation concern including native trout and nongame fishes such as native minnows in prairie streams. One of our current projects in this area involves the role of irrigation canals as a population sink for cutthroat trout.

 


Lauren G. Shoemakerheadshot_v2---lauren-shoemaker.jpg

Assistant Professor, Botany Department
E-mail: lshoema1@uwyo.edu  

Students: Janette Davidson, Kaitlyn McKnight, Megan Szojka

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I am a community ecologist interested in understanding patterns in diversity across space and time. In my research, I combine complex systems science and mathematical models with experimental tests of theory. My research focuses on understanding (1) how spatio-temporal variability promotes coexistence and species diversity, (2) the processes that create spatial patterning across landscapes, and (3) linking patterns of population and community synchrony to underlying mechanisms.


Bryan ShumanBryan Shuman, University of Wyoming Program in Ecology faculty

Professor, Department of Geology and Geophysics
E-mail: bshuman@uwyo.edu     |     Web Page    

Students: Jordan Von Eggers

Alumni: John Calder

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My research focuses on long-term changes in the availability of water, and how these changes shape ecosystem composition, pattern, and process. In particular, I have been using geologic evidence to study how the water levels of lakes in North America have changed over centuries to millennia during the past 15,000 years, and am comparing these records of past moisture levels with fossil and geochemical evidence of past vegetation, disturbances, and other ecosystem phenomena. In doing so, I seek to understand how ecosystems from the landscape- to continental-scale respond to climate change. By comparing lake-level data from across the continent, I am also examining the climatic processes that cause moisture fluctuations through time. Students working with me have worked on 1) paleoclimate reconstruction and diagnosing the causes of past climate changes, 2) vegetation and fire history reconstruction and examining the role of disturbance (fire) for mediating vegetation responses to climate change, 3) spatially-explicit landscape modeling of past ecosystem changes, and 4) improving our understanding of the sedimentary and geochemical record of past environmental change.

 


Ramesh Sivanpillai, University of Wyoming Program in Ecology facultyRamesh Sivanpillai

Research Scientist, Departments of Botany and Ecosystem Science and Management
Wyoming Geographic Information Sciences Center
Email: Sivan@uwyo.edu     |     Web Page

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My research focuses on mapping vegetation types and monitoring vegetation condition and land cover change using remotely sensed data.  Most of my work uses multispectral data collected from satellite and airborne platforms.  Study areas range from small agricultural fields to large river deltas.  Working with remotely sensed data acquired at different spatial and spectral resolutions enables me to assess the effect of scale or grain size on mapping vegetation and other earth surface features.  My research sites are located in US (Wyoming and Texas), India, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Mexico, Honduras and Nicaragua.


David Tank David Tank Photo

Professor, Department of Botany

Director of Rocky Mountain Herbarium

Email:dtank@uwyo.edu    |   Web Page

Students: Erin Bentley, Caroline Brose, Malia Santos

 


Corey TarwaterCorey Tarwater, University of Wyoming Program in Ecology faculty

Associate Professor, Department of Zoology & Physiology and UW Biodiversity Institute
E-mail: corey.tarwater@uwyo.edu   

Students: Mary De Aquino

Alumni: Samuel Case, Rebecca Wilcox

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My research interests are broadly focused on the links between ecology, evolution, and behavior of year-round resident birds and using individual-based studies to understand variation in individual fitness and population demography. Current projects include: 1) effects of rainfall and fragmentation on demography in an understory insectivore in Panama, 2) the role of individual and environmental variation on juvenile behaviors, recruitment, and demography of birds in central Panama, 3) the role of invasive birds and rats in seed dispersal of native and nonnative plants in Hawaii, and 4) life history trade-offs and the link between personalities and life histories using a long-term study of song sparrows in British Columbia.

Hawaii VINE project - https://www.facebook.com/hawaii.vine.project

Econeotropica project - https://www.facebook.com/econeotropica


Lusha Tronstad Lusha Tronstad

Lead Invertebrate Zoologist, Wyoming Natural Diversity Database

Email: tronstad@uwyo.edu

Student: Isabella Sadler 

Webpages:https://www.uwyo.edu/wyndd/about-wyndd/staff/lusha-tronstad.html,

https://www.uwyo.edu/wyndd/about-wyndd/programs/invertebrates.html,

https://tinyurl.com/TetonStreams,

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Lusha-Tronstad

Most of my research focuses on rare or imperiled invertebrates with a focus on aquatic invertebrates and pollinating insects. I also have expertise in population, community and ecosystem ecology. I love studying a variety of organisms such as investigating how plants and animals alter ecosystem fluxes, and interactions between plants and pollinators. Examples of projects my laboratory group studies include how a rare, endemic beetle survives in harsh water quality, interactions between insects and wind facilities, nutrient dynamics in Yellowstone Lake while suppressing invasive lake trout, using aquatic invertebrates to assess ecosystem quality, limiting factors throughout the lifecycle of mussels, parasitism in bumble bees, the role rare plants play in pollination networks, changes in ice phenology under a changing climate and best methods to monitor rare pollinators. I use a variety of tools including isotopes, nutrients, statistics, modeling, mark recapture and others. The research that we do collects information that can be used by managers to make informed decisions.

 


Linda van Diepen, University of Wyoming Program in Ecology facultyLinda van Diepen

Associate Professor, Department of Ecosystem Science and Management
Email: linda.vandiepen@uwyo.edu     |     Web Page

Students:

Alumni: Gordon Custer, Liana Boggs Lynch 

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My research interests lie in the field of ecosystem science with a focus on the role of the soil microbial community in biogeochemical processes such as nutrient and carbon cycling. I am interested in understanding the responses of an ecosystem to various disturbances and how soil processes and plant-microbe interactions mutually control these ecosystem responses.

Some examples of my work within Wyoming are: 1) the role of soil microorganisms in restoration of forests after wildfire, 2) the role of microorganisms in soil remediation of contaminated mine lands, 3) microbial interactions with invasive plant species (e.g., cheatgrass), and 4) effects of forest pathogens on soil microbial community dynamics.


Katie WagnerKatie Wagner, University of Wyoming Program in Ecology faculty

Associate Professor, Department of Botany and UW Biodiversity Institute
Email: cwagne22@uwyo.edu     |     Web Page

StudentsWilliam Rosenthal, Andrew Suchomel

Alumni: Jimena Golcher-Benavides, Jessica Rick

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I am an evolutionary biologist with broad interests in processes of speciation and diversification. My research uses population genetic, genomic, phylogenetic, and comparative methods to study diversification, from speciation processes to macroevolutionary patterns of biodiversity.

 


Annika WaltersAnnika Walters, University of Wyoming Program in Ecology faculty

Assistant Professor, Department of Zoology/Physiology
Wyoming Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit
Email: awalter8@uwyo.edu     |     Web Page   

Students: Jeff Baldock, Niall Clancy, Meredith Journey, Ashleigh Pilkerton, Isabella Sadler

Alumni: Gabe Barrile, Richard Walker

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I am interested in the resistance and resilience of aquatic communities to disturbance. My research addresses disturbances (e.g., flow alteration, climate change, nutrient loading, and energy development) that are relevant to the conservation and management of aquatic ecosystems through a combination of field observation, experimentation, and modeling. Much of my current research involves fish that are of conservation concern and is set in a management context. My goal is to conduct research that has relevance to both basic ecological theory and fisheries management.


Cynthia WeinigCynthia Weinig, University of Wyoming Program in Ecology faculty

Professor, Departments of Botany and Molecular Biology
E-mail: cweinig@uwyo.edu 

Students: Allessandra Ceretto, Robby McMinn
Alumni: Charley Hubbard, Matthew Rubin, Yulia Yarkhunova

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The majority of variation segregating in natural populations is quantitative, and its expression depends on genetic background, environment, and interactions with these two factors. Traditionally, the evolution of quantitative traits has been described using statistical genetic techniques. However, one of the greatest advantages of these approaches is also one of their primary limitations: it is possible to estimate genetic variation and covariation in traits without any direct knowledge of the underlying loci or molecular genetic details. In like fashion, it is possible to estimate the pattern of natural selection on quantitative traits in the absence of knowledge of loci that determine fitness. Advances in collecting and analyzing molecular data promise to reveal the molecular genetic basis of quantitative trait variation. In our lab, we focus on understanding genetic mechanisms of adaptation to competition, the role of the circadian clock in competitive responses and in adaptation to seasonal settings, and the genetic basis of quantitative variation in floral morphology. In sum, our work spans the fields of ecology, evolution, and genetics.


Topher Weiss-Lehmanweisslehmantopher_250x250.jpg

Assistant Professor, Department of Botany
E-mail: cweissle@uwyo.edu 

Students: Qingyu Gan, Spencer Holtz

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Research in my lab broadly focuses on the eco-evolutionary dynamics of global change. In recent decades, scientists have begun to better understand both the magnitude of changes humans are imposing on the planet and the capacity of populations to evolve rapidly in response to novel selection pressures. I am particularly interested in the spatial dynamics of these phenomena, such as range expansions (as with invasive species) or range shifts due to climate change. Research in the lab combines theoretical models with laboratory experiments using the red flour beetle (Tribolium castaneum), a classic model organism for both ecology and evolution. Using this approach, we aim to better understand how rapid evolution might affect species’ responses to global change, and thus inform future conservation efforts.


David WilliamsDave Williams, University of Wyoming Program in Ecology faculty

Professor, Department of Botany
E-mail: dgw@uwyo.edu     |     Web Page   

Students: Emmanuel Komolafe, Yasaman Shakeri 
Alumni: Janet Chen, Jiemin Guo, Abigail Hoffman 

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The Williams lab investigates plant-environment interactions in terrestrial environments of the world with particular focus on savannas, grasslands and deserts. Student and postdoc research addresses the role of plants in water, carbon and nitrogen cycle processes from cellular to ecosystem scales, and from daily to inter-annual timescales. Major research questions address the potential responses of water-limited ecosystems to changes in climate, atmospheric chemistry and vegetation composition.

 


Di Yangdi-yang-photo.jpg

Assistant Professor, Wyoming Geographic Information Science Center
E-mail: dyang1@uwyo.edu |     Web Page  

Student: Joshua Burd, Shuai Li

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GeoDI Lab explores interactions between human and environmental processes that shape landscapes, habitats, and ecosystems by cutting-edge geospatial tools.

Our research focuses on macrosystem ecology, landscape ecology, geospatial informatics, applied remote sensing, and GeoAI. We are interested in the dynamics of human-modified landscape systems, their response to environmental change (e.g., land use and climate), as well as the scientific basis for the management, conservation, and restoration. Topics we are currently investigating include: 1) NEON (National Ecological Observatory Network) macrosystems forest management and biodiversity; 2) incorporate VGI data into geospatial modeling of extreme events under changing climates; 3) processing and analyzing large ecological and remote sensing databases using geospatial cloud computing (e.g., Google Earth Engine, Microsoft Azure, and Web-GIS) to benefit conservation, resource management, landowners, and policymakers.


Emeritus Faculty

 

William BakerWilliam L. Baker

Professor Emeritus, Department of Geography

Alumni: Mark Williams

 

 


Craig Benkman   craig benkman                                       

Professor Emeritus, Department of Zoology and Physiology 

Alumni: Adam Siepielski, Matt Talluto, Cody Porter

                                            


Steven BuskirkSteven Buskirk

Professor Emeritus, Department of Zoology and Physiology

Alumni: Emiliano Donadio, Jonathan Pauli, Arthur Middleton

 


Holly Ernest DVM, MS, PhDernest photo

Professor Emeritus, University of California Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine

Professor Emeritus, University of Wyoming, Dept of Veterinary Sciences

Wildlife Genomics and Disease Ecology, Certified Senior Ecologist, Ecological Society of America, www.wildlifegenetichealth.org.  

Email: Holly.Ernest@uwyo.edu, hbernest@ucdavis.edu


Angela Hild Ann Hild Photo

Professor Emeritus, Department of Ecosystem Science and Management

Email: annhild@uwyo.edu

 

 

 


Stephen T. JacksonSteve Jackson

Professor Emeritus, Department of Botany

Alumni: Mark Lesser, Rachel Jones, Yao Liu

 

 


Carlos Martinez del RioCarlos Martinez del Rio, University of Wyoming Program in Ecology faculty

Professor Emeritus, Department of Zoology and Physiology

Alumni: Mikey Tabak

 

 


David B. McDonaldDavid B. McDonald, University of Wyoming Program in Ecology faculty

Professor Emeritus, Department of Zoology and Physiology
 


 


William A. ReinersWilliam A. Reiners

Professor Emeritus, Department of Botany

Alumni: Jason Edwards

 


Peter D. StahlPeter D. Stahl, University of Wyoming Program in Ecology faculty

Professor Emeritus, Department of Ecosystem Science and Management
Director, Wyoming Reclamation and Restoration Center


Alumni: Caley Gasch, Ramesh Sapkota, Michael Curran 


Dan Tinker

Dan Tinker, University of Wyoming Program in Ecology faculty

Associate Professor Emeritus, Department of Botany, Ecosystem Science and Management, Environment and Natural Resources

Alumni: David McKenzie, Paige Copenhaver Parry, Kellen Nelson

 

 

 
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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