Lab Members

Sarah Sells, PhD Candidate


My overarching career goal is to make meaningful contributions to science and conservation. My research interests include behavior, population dynamics, modeling, disease, and decision analysis. I am particularly interested in collaborating with agencies to conduct research with direct application to conservation, and in connecting ecological theory with applied management. I first joined the MTCWRU to pursue my MS with Dr. Mike Mitchell, studying proactive management of pneumonia epizootics in bighorn sheep in close collaboration with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. I am now working on my PhD studying carnivore territoriality and sociality, focusing on gray wolves in Montana and Idaho. My objectives are to develop territory and group size models to help state agencies accurately estimate abundance of wolves through biologically based, spatially explicit predictions. To accomplish these objectives, I am using novel approaches to test hypotheses about causal mechanisms of territorial and social behavior of carnivores. This research will have direct application to post-delisting management of wolves and be useful for predicting behaviors of other carnivores to aid in their management and conservation. 

Learn More: Sarah's profile, carnivore behavior, pneumonia in bighorn sheep, and decision analysis.

Allison Keever, PhD Candidate

Ally Keever

I am interested in mammalian ecology and population dynamics. My research has focused on the use of population and ecological modeling as a tool for conservation and management of wildlife populations. I am particularly interested in species interactions and how these interactions shape population dynamics. I completed a master’s degree at Auburn University where I estimated abundance of white-tailed deer using camera traps and N-mixture models and evaluated effects of coyote removal and wild pigs on deer abundance. Currently, I am collaborating with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to develop an adaptive harvest management model to help inform harvest decisions for wolves in Montana while decreasing uncertainty in wolf population dynamics and improving methods to estimate recruitment across the state. 

Learn More: Ally's profile and adaptive harvest management of wolves.

James Goerz, PhD Student

James Goerz

My research interests involve studying the adaptive capacity of species facing stress from environmental change. Specifically, my work seeks to understand the decision-making processes of prey species in montane forest ecosystems. Moose in the state of Washington currently present an opportunity to study habitat selection patterns of a heat-sensitive large prey species amidst challenging seasonal temperature regimes, habitat modification, and a new and growing wolf population. I intend to evaluate spatial and temporal habitat selection strategies of moose responding to thermal refuge availability, habitat fragmentation, and predation risk - linking variation in these strategies to variation in individual fitness (survival and reproduction). This research will provide information on population status and trend useful for management of the species in Washington, as well as elucidate the capacity of moose to adapt to rapid environmental change through behavioral mechanisms (habitat selection strategies).

Learn More: James' profile and moose recruitment.

Shannon Forshee, MS Student

Shannon Forshee

My interests range broadly from genetics to conservation of endangered species. I’ve been fortunate to work with a wide variety of projects and species across the country, ranging from stingrays to large carnivores and now ungulates. My recent work has been centralized on predator-prey relationships concerning endangered mammals. While working for the California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) on the Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep (SNBS) Recovery Project, my interest in species conservation and predator-prey interactions converged. CDFW has made great progress towards the recovery of Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep, yet poor juvenile recruitment over the past decade is now jeopardizing the future of the species. Trying to understand the causes and consequences of juvenile, specifically neonatal, mortality is key to ensuring the persistence of the species. Preliminary and anecdotal information suggests that predation may be factor driving juvenile mortality. Quantifying mortality and understanding the factors driving it are essential management tools for CDFW’s SNBS Recovery Project. Additionally, I will collect data on adult female behavior pre-, during and post-parturition and quantify characteristics of chosen parturition sites to enhance CDFW’s ability to monitor reproductive success.   

Learn More: Shannon's profile and bighorn sheep recruitment.

Kari Eneas, MS Student

My passion for wildlife and the complexities of natural ecosystems began for me at an early age. I grew up within the heart of the Flathead Indian Reservation, which provided me with ample opportunities to observe wildlife across diverse ecosystems. Today, I am employed as a wildlife biologist with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Wildlife Management Program after starting as a wildlife biologist trainee in 2008. I completed my Bachelor of Science Degree in Wildlife Biology in 2013 while establishing a barn owl survey protocol for the Mission Valley and conducting a dietary analysis between barn owls and short eared owls. Since then I have conducted breeding bird surveys and worked on the monitoring of long-billed curlew populations and interagency planning efforts for sharp-tailed grouse restoration in western Montana. My other duties have included collection and interpretation of data from sand bed track surveys at wildlife crossing structures on U.S. Highway 93, remote-sensing camera monitoring of wildlife habitat and crossing structure use, aerial and ground surveys of local waterfowl and bald eagles, community outreach and education, and habitat restoration efforts on Kerr Wildlife Habitat Mitigation Areas. Currently, my research interests include human/carnivore conflict between grizzly bears and small scale poultry and small livestock farming, the effectiveness of electric fencing in mitigating grizzly conflicts, and habitat selection and use in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem. I am co-advised by Dr. Chad Bishop.

Learn More: Kari's profile and grizzly bear conflict mitigation and movement ecology.

Teagan Hayes, MS Student

My research interests broadly lie in connecting wildlife movement and nutrition to management and conservation on the larger landscape. As an undergraduate, I was a ranger at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum and a technician in the university genomics lab. I found my way west on a bike, where I have conducted research across Montana and other western states.  My work has spanned diverse habitats including northern forests, tallgrass prairie, desert, sagebrush steppe, and lab benches, and my research has focused on a range of species from elk and mule deer to insects and muskoxen.  My current Masters research is in collaboration with Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, focused on nutritional ecology of mule deer in three study areas in Montana. I am co-advised by Dr. Chad Bishop.

Learn more: Teagan's profile and mule deer ecology and population dynamics.

Collin Peterson, MS Student

Growing up in Oregon, I was awestruck with the spectacular diversity of ecosystems in the west, and the plant and animal species they support. This sparked my desire to study how habitat influences animal behavior, fitness, and diversity, and how understanding habitat can be applied to management and conservation. I've had the opportunities to study a wide array of taxa, including insects in the Pacific Northwest, mule deer and sage grouse in Colorado, and wolves in Idaho and Yellowstone National Park. I'm currently collaborating with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to study mule deer habitat selection, migration, and nutritional ecology.  I hope to determine the quality and abundance of forage available to deer with different migratory strategies, the trade-offs associated with migratory vs. non-migratory behaviors, and what effects they may have on mule deer fitness. I am co-advised by Dr. Chad Bishop.

Learn more: mule deer ecology and population dynamics.

Kenneth Loonam, MS Student

I am broadly interested in the community ecology of carnivores and their prey and its applications to the management and conservation of ecosystems. I have had the privilege of working on projects studying a broad array of animals including decapods on the Texas coast, reptiles and amphibians in Alabama, sage grouse in Utah, jaguars in Belize, and Mexican wolves in New Mexico. Currently, I am working with Idaho Fish and Game to measure their cougar populations with camera traps using time-to-event modelling. I am co-advised by Dr. Hugh Robinson.

Learn more: Kenneth's profile and estimating cougar populations.

Alex Welander, MS Student

Rick Astley, Honorary Lab Member

Rick Astley

My interests center on the role cohesion plays in the relationships of social animals. My current project has already made groundbreaking strides in quantifying the value and relative importance of a balanced life to interdependent individuals. In my free time I enjoy dancing, spending time outdoors, and being a stable role model.

Learn more: a balanced life.