The Six Lab is a diverse place. We work on many questions from many different angles: everything from evolution to ecology to management and effects of global change, and from the micro- to the landscape level. Most of our work focuses in one way or another on bark or ambrosia beetles and their interactions with fungi. But sometimes studies on fire or invasives sneak in, just 'cause we find them interesting. Our work occurs in many places. Some of our work is local (Montana and surrounding states) and some not so local (southern Africa, Asia, Australia and Mexico).
Forest Ecology Lab - Andrew Larson
Research in the Forest Ecology Lab includes basic and applied aspects of forest ecology. Our current work addresses three topics: (1) disturbances and structural development of natural forests, (2) causes and consequences of spatial heterogeneity in forest ecosystems, (3) ecological basis for and effectiveness of forest restoration treatments.
The lab focuses on three core areas of research: 1) understanding physiographic influences on climate, 2) modeling and estimating uncertainty in species distribution models (SDMs), and 3) understanding fire and fire effects.
Our research interests center on the development and application of quantitative methods to ecological problems, primarily in wildlife population dynamics. We strive to connect ecological theory to wildlife management problems and in doing so improve wildlife management and test ecological theory.
Research in Dr. Cara Nelson's Restoration Ecology Lab focuses on four primary areas: 1) effects of large-scale disturbance on understory plants and trees, 2) conceptual basis for ecological restoration, 3) efficacy and ecological impacts of restoration treatments, and 4) sampling methods for detecting changes in understory plant abundance. These topics are being explored at landscape, population, and organism scales, through field experiments, retrospective studies, and meta-analyses. Cara and her students are particularly interested in projects that both contribute to basic knowledge of plant and restoration ecology and provide managers with timely information about the ecological effects of management interventions.
We are interested in how terrestrial ecosystems function, how they are being affected by human activities, and the consequeces of environmental change for both humans and the ecosystems that we depend on.
Work in the Soil Biogeochemistry Lab spans a wide range of disciplines from soil biogeochemistry to microbial ecology to ecosystem science, and our projects vary in scale from plot-level studies investigating the effects of disturbance and global change on ecosystem processes to large-scale analyses of the biogoechemical cycles of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus.
Our research interests broadly lie in understanding 1) how wildlife such as ungulate herbivores balance the costs of predation with the benefits of foraging, and 2) how human activities influence this balance, and the ensuing conservation and management consequences to wildlife population dynamics. Ungulate habitat selection is a primary mechanism used to balance predation and forage, and our research uses new techniques to link the consequences of resource selection to population dynamics. Our research approach is largely empirical, based on field studies, and makes use of advances in spatial and statistical modeling including resource selection functions, cox-proportional hazards survival analyses, and landscape simulation models using GIS. Because human activities often influence predation risk and forage distribution, we believe it crucial for research to have applied conservation and management components.