What We Do

The mission of the Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center is to produce and disseminate scientific information needed to manage and restore the ecosystems and associated plant and animal communities of the Northern Rockies. The Center will generate and communicate scientific information needed to address issues of critical importance to natural resource managers of the region.

The mission of the Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center is to produce and disseminate scientific information needed to manage and restore the ecosystems and associated plant and animal communities of the Northern Rockies. The Center will generate and communicate scientific information needed to address issues of critical importance to natural resource managers of the region. The Center will be recognized for its ability to anticipate and address key issues effectively through research and information transfer, and for its collaborative approach to problem solving. 

We work in collaboration with Federal, State, and International agencies, Native American Tribes, academic institutions, and organizations to produce and disseminate scientific information needed to support natural resource management decisions. We are staffed by 50 federal, 16 temporary, 22-25 non-Federal employees. Our researchers are based in Bozeman, Montana with field stations at West Glacier and Missoula, Montana and duty stations in Jackson, Wyoming and Knoxville, Tennessee. Scientists from NOROCK work throughout the United States and the world on issues as diverse as global climate change, aquatic ecology, wildlife diseases and genetics, aeroecology, invasive species, and large carnivores. 

  • The portfolio of large carnivore science at NOROCK has expanded to include grizzly bears, Louisiana black bears, Florida panthers, and wolves.  Our science helps provide managers and the public with information that can be used to inform management across the landscape as it related to large carnivore populations, disease dynamics, and genetic health.
  • Much of the interest in disease ecology and wildlife health has been prompted by the emergence, or resurgence, of parasites that move between livestock, wildlife, and/or humans. At NOROCK, scientists are examining some of the most pressing wildlife health issues including brucellosis in elk and bison, sarcoptic mange in wolves, and pneumonia in bighorn sheep. 
  • Undesirable and invasive non-native plants and animals threaten many of our native species and represent one of the most important threats to ecosystems world-wide. Costs for the eradication and monitoring of these species are billions of dollars each year. NOROCK scientists are working closely with management agencies to develop research to detect invaders early and then identify the most cost effective means for control.
  • Changing mountain ecosystems are having a profound effect on both wildlife and plant species in the Rocky Mountains. Scientists at NOROCK are expanding our knowledge of mountain ecosystems and how climate and land use change are impacting the species they support.  The Climate Change in Mountain Ecosystems program studies changes in alpine vegetation and ecosystem effects of glacial decline.  And, our scientists are using indicator species (insects, fish, and the American pika) as barometers of the effects of climate and land use change.
  • Genetic diversity of wildlife species is a fundamental component to biological diversity. NOROCK has expanded is capabilities in wildlife genetic research to explore the consequences of hybridization between native and non-native trout and to develop new, genetic based population monitoring tools that can help managers understand population trends, and track the spread of some wildlife diseases through genetic analysis.
  • Novel use of technologies that were traditionally used for weather forecasting and radio broadcasting have been adapted to examine a variety of ecological conditions and animal behaviors. NOROCK is a leader in harnessing the power of radar and other kinds of remote sensing technology to study flying animals in relation to their conservation and management.
  • The Williston Basin is an emerging energy development hotspot that spans parts of Montana, North and South Dakota, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, and is currently in the midst of a modern energy boom driven by advances in oil and gas production technologies. NOROCK scientists and Science Team about Energy and Prairie Pothole Environments (STEPPE) partners are examining the extent and magnitude of brine contamination from oil and gas development in the Williston Basin.
  • Amphibians and reptiles are key indicators of ecosystem health and declines have been documented worldwide, including in the western U.S.  Scientists at NOROCK are involved with multidisciplinary teams of the Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative (ARMI) to assess status of amphibian populations and examine factors that may influence their success.
  • Developing productive science partnerships has been a foundation of NOROCK since the Center was developed, particularly our Tribal partnerships. Wildlife and landscapes issues significant to Tribal lands throughout the west are a focus of NOROCK research projects and rely on partnerships with Tribal members to gather sound, scientific information.