Design, Analysis, Monitoring, and Conservation of Ecological Dynamics at Broad Scales

Science Center Objects

There is increasing recognition that the spatial context in which any ecological process or phenomenon occurs has great bearing on the outcome of that process.  Since 1994, we have been working on numerous field investigations and conceptual developments to inform how ecological resources can be managed and conserved across jurisdictional boundaries and broad spatial extents.  Because such spatially extensive areas encompass great landscape and biological diversity, we have used creative approaches to ensure that response measures are relevant across the whole region.  Broad-scale and long-term investigations allow for a richer understanding and better discrimination of overarching patterns and trends from particular exceptions.  Among other research efforts, we use the American pika as a model to understand how dynamics in mountain ecosystems vary across space and time.

Image of a sunset over a lake.

Development of design, sampling, and analytical approaches for broad-scale monitoring

Location(s): Great Northern Landscape Conservation Cooperative's area, Greater Yellowstone Ecoregion, northern Rocky Mountains, numerous areas across the western USA, and conservation areas worldwide; past locations include Alaska and the Great Lakes ecoregion

Objectives: Vary by project, but generally, I and collaborators have sought to create approaches and frameworks that allow early-warning detection of changes to species, communities, and ecosystems, particularly across areas that are extensive enough to prevent high-resolution monitoring and investigation from being feasible and sustainable. We have addressed both design-based and pragmatic considerations, in these efforts.

Collaborators and Funding: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, National Park Service, U.S. Geological Survey
Previous funders: American Museum of Natural History, Knudtsen Great Basin Ecological Research Grant 


Thomas Creek in Ruby Mountains.

Distributional change of montane mammals across the hydrographic Great Basin 

Location(s): hydrographic Great Basin, including northern 2/3 of Nevada, southeastern Oregon, southern Idaho, northeastern California, and western Utah (all long-term sites to date are in Nevada, Oregon, and California, but shorter-term efforts have occurred in all these other areas)

Objectives: Answer the following questions:

  • Have there been any distributional changes since historical specimen records?
  • What combination of factors and mechanisms has been responsible for changes (if any)?
  • Have the pace and drivers of losses differed across time and space?
  • level losses best predicted by magnitude of change in climatic attributes, or by relative status of climatic attributes?

Collaborators and Funding: Great Basin Landscape Conservation Cooperative, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, Mt. Holyoke College, University of Utah, University of Nevada, reno, National Park Service

Previous Funders: Kosciuszko Foundation, American Museum of Natural History, Knudtsen Great Basin Ecological Research Grant, World Wildlife Fund, Great Basin Cooperative Ecosystems Studies Unit 


Hot springs in Yellowstone.

Winter ecology of resident animals in the northern Rocky Mountains

Location(s): the Northern Rocky Mountains, in and around the Greater Yellowstone Ecoregion


  • Better characterize and quantify aspects of microclimate across topographically complex mountain landscapes
  • Better understand the ecology of mountain-dwelling animals that remain in their montane habitats during the harsh winters that have typified this region, and investigate how aspects of ecology may change in the coming years

Collaborators and Funding: YERC, Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.