Effects of Climate Change on Montane Riparian Ecosystems
2011 (bottom) in vegetation
structure and density related
to long-term declining snow
levels allowing increased elk
Why is this research important?
Study of multiple trophic groups and their interactions are rare, but urgently needed to understand causal mechanisms of ecosystem change in response to climate. We are examining climate effects on trophic interactions (herbivory, predation) between large herbivores, plants, small mammals and birds - the only such study in the world examining this range of trophic interactions and over a long enough time-frame to see climate influences. In addition, we are examining the causal mechanisms and hierarchical scaling underlying change in ecosystem structure (species composition) and function (trophic interactions) in response to climate variation. Finally, we are examining physiological sensitivities of birds and their offspring to climate and the resulting potential consequences from warming.
Principal Investigator: Thomas E Martin, Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit
Project Team: John Maron, Megan Jankowski, Sonya Auer, 2 graduate students, 25 undergraduates