Stepping Out of the Steppe—Rachel Renne

As temperatures climbed this summer, so did the elevations of the plots that I visited. My gradual ascent was an attempt to capture the plant community of each site at a time when I would be able to detect and identify most of the plant species. Higher elevations mean lower temperatures, and while many grasses Read more about Stepping Out of the Steppe—Rachel Renne[…]

Gold Underfoot! Soil Organic Matter matters—Raffa Sindoni

Soil is the tapestry upon which all life is weaved. Our water is cleaned through it. Our food rises from it. As young children, our bare feet kiss it. After death, we return back to it. And so, the cycle goes, for time immemorial. Most splendid of all, a full-spectrum of life flourishes in just Read more about Gold Underfoot! Soil Organic Matter matters—Raffa Sindoni[…]

A Note from the Steppe—Rachel Renne

As a kid growing up in Florida, we were warned that the hottest part of the day was between noon and 2 pm. My mother insisted that we come inside during these hours to avoid the heat and what she considered to be the riskiest time for sunburns. Yet, at 4:30 pm today in this Read more about A Note from the Steppe—Rachel Renne[…]

Defining Spring in a Dynamic World—Rob Anderson

What is spring? This may seem like an obvious question, but over the last few months I have come to appreciate that it is not as easy to answer as I once thought. The definition of springtime may change depending on where you are, who you are, and what you deem to be important in Read more about Defining Spring in a Dynamic World—Rob Anderson[…]

What’s Behind Oregon’s New Law Mandating Overtime Pay for Farmworkers and What Might it Mean for Farmers in the State? — Shannon Bell

Labor shortages became very salient in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the agricultural industry has been reckoning with labor shortages and the equity concerns around farm labor conditions for years. One of the primary factors behind both the decline in willing farm labor and the outcry among farmworker advocates has been the Read more about What’s Behind Oregon’s New Law Mandating Overtime Pay for Farmworkers and What Might it Mean for Farmers in the State? — Shannon Bell[…]

Climate Change and Plant Communities: Reshaping Ecosystems for Livestock and Wildlife — Scott Carpenter

During the month of August, I was unfortunate enough to be impacted by two extreme weather events associated with climate change. In Wyoming, multiple field days were cut short due to hazardous air quality resulting from the ongoing wildfires in California and Oregon. While 2020 saw the second highest acreage burned since 1960 (the highest Read more about Climate Change and Plant Communities: Reshaping Ecosystems for Livestock and Wildlife — Scott Carpenter[…]

Elkhorn Mountain Conifer Density Survey

In partnership with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and Pheasants Forever in Bozeman, MT, our research assistant is using geospatial analysis and remote sensing to determine conifer density and potential encroachment in the Elkhorn Mountain region. Throughout western Montana there are forest communities which have not burned in decades. Lack of fire may lead Read more about Elkhorn Mountain Conifer Density Survey[…]

Computer Simulations and Soil Texture — Jon Michel

This summer, I worked with computer simulations to determine if soil texture was currently an important factor in competition between sagebrush and bunchgrasses. In the present scenario, it was determined to not have a significant effect. Currently, I’m studying how this effect changes as climate change progresses, and it looks like it could start to Read more about Computer Simulations and Soil Texture — Jon Michel[…]

Understanding the Role of Perennial Grasses in Sagebrush Establishment — Damaris Chenoweth

I recently returned from Southwestern Wyoming where I collected data over five weeks. The undisturbed Wyoming big sagebrush of the Jonah Field is dotted by disturbed plant communities, in which perennial grasses often dominate during the early stages of plant community recovery after well pad establishment. When well pads are reclaimed—the practice of returning soil Read more about Understanding the Role of Perennial Grasses in Sagebrush Establishment — Damaris Chenoweth[…]

Predicting the Future—Jon Michel

I don’t think I need to describe to anyone that we’re living through a very odd time. With everything going on in regard to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the looming threat of climate change, it seems like computer modelling of future conditions has become more relevant than ever. Attempting to model the future Read more about Predicting the Future—Jon Michel[…]

Mapping Resource “Neighborhoods” of Big Sagebrush — Damaris Chenoweth

Once covering nearly half of the American West, sagebrush ecosystems are now among the most threatened in North America.  In the past century, climate change, human land use, shifting disturbance regimes, and the introduction of invasive plants have driven significant loss, fragmentation, and modification of sagebrush communities.  As part of my research, I will characterize Read more about Mapping Resource “Neighborhoods” of Big Sagebrush — Damaris Chenoweth[…]

Simulating the Recovery of Big Sagebrush Communities from Disturbances Due to Oil and Gas Extraction

At well pads—areas developed for oil and gas drilling—both the vegetation and topsoil are completely removed. After drilling infrastructure is installed, these areas are reclaimed, meaning the topsoil is then replaced, and the areas are seeded with various mixes of species. Despite reclamation efforts, big sagebrush communities have an extremely hard time returning to a Read more about Simulating the Recovery of Big Sagebrush Communities from Disturbances Due to Oil and Gas Extraction[…]

Rebirth after Fire — Zhi Li

Zhi Li, MFs 20′, spent his 2019 summer in California’s forests conducting research related to fire. This involved camping with a team in 8-night stints and taking vegetation measures day in and day out. Zhi’s hard work on this collaborative research has been condensed into a story map he created and is located here. Student Read more about Rebirth after Fire — Zhi Li[…]

Field Research in California’s Forest after Wildfire — Zhi Li

When I present my research to the F&ES community, all I will see is the flashback of this summer: a summer I spent in California with a Californian man who is like a tree and three women from Georgia, Sweden, and Boston respectively. It was a summer with heat and sweat, tons of hiking and Read more about Field Research in California’s Forest after Wildfire — Zhi Li[…]

Development of a Feasibility Tool to Evaluate Grassbank Potential in Thunder Basin, Wyoming

Our team worked with The Nature Conservancy Wyoming to research the feasibility of a creative approach to grassland conservation in the Thunder Basin region of Wyoming. The approach is called “grassbanking” and it brings together ranchers and conservation organizations to enhance environmental performance and ranching livelihoods by offering access to discounted grazing leases in exchange Read more about Development of a Feasibility Tool to Evaluate Grassbank Potential in Thunder Basin, Wyoming[…]