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The Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit

The University of Montana

Research Interests


Ecology, behavior, and management of mammals with an emphasis on carnivores; applied landscape ecology; forest wildlife management; decision analysis.

More specifically: 

I am most interested in the conservation challenges that continue to surface in the interface between shrinking wildlife habitat and growing human populations. I believe the best means of addressing these challenges equates good conservation to good ecology, and research toward that end should be grounded in basic ecological, behavioral, and evolutionary theory. My approach to research integrates fieldwork, modeling, and GIS to test predictions of basic ecological theories in a context suitable for application to conservation and management. I am flexible on research subjects and methodological approaches-- I am more interested in ecological questions and management challenges than in certain species or technical particulars.  Most of my research is collaborative, working closely with state, federal, and tribal wildlife management agencies to address real-world conservation challenges.

Current Projects:

  • Identify trends for intensively monitored black bear populations in Idaho and Montana using genetic techniques.
  • Understand effects of roads on behavior of black bears in Idaho.
  • Investigate the demography, management, and monitoring of gray wolves in the Northern Rocky Mountains.
  • Understand transmission of disease within a linear population of bighorn sheep in Idaho.
  • Model decisions for proactive management of disease outbreak for bighorn sheep in Montana.
  • Estimate broad-scale vital rates for ungulates (elk, mule deer) in the Pacific Northwest.
  • Understand effects of harvest strategies on habitat selection and home ranges of white-tailed deer in Washington.

Past Projects:

  • Develop and test a habitat suitability index (HSI) for black bears in the Southern Appalachians.
  • Develop and apply models of optimal home range selection based on optimal selection of resource-bearing patches. 
  • Evaluate effects of forest management on food resources, home range behavior, and demography of black bears.
  • Modeled the long-term demography of a black bear population.
  • Related demographic trends of the bear population to limiting food resources.
  • Evaluated demography, habitat use, and home range behavior of a feral pig population and how they responded to control measures. 
  • Determined contribution of stand- and landscape-scale habitat features to population dynamics of mice.
  • Evaluated demographic responses of small mammals to fire and fires surrogate treatments. 
  • Evaluated effects of scale in determining landscape-scale associations between habitat and bird species.
  • Developed a Multi-scale Spatial Analysis Tool for using landscape models to map probability of presence or probability of belonging to different richness classes for any forested landscape for which basic GIS data are available.

Natural Sciences Room 205

Missoula, MT 59812