Our Research Baron and her team visiting Rocky Mountain National Park on Sept. 20, 2013 to collect samples after the historic Colorado floods. Our Program Our Curriculum Specialization Front Range Student Ecology Symposium Photo is courtesy of Caroline Melle. It was taken near her research site at Imnavait Creek by Toolik Lake field station, AK Diana Wall and crew in Antarctica Chris Funk and crew hiking in Oyacachi, Ecuador Kurogawa (Kuro Stream), a stream with native Japanese charr and salmon in the mountains of Shikoku Island, southern Japan – image by David Herasimtschuk

Our Program

Since its inception in 1992, GDPE has grown to become a principal organization that catalyzes cutting-edge and world-renowned ecological research performed at Colorado State University.

Our primary goal is to provide outstanding training for graduate students in the ecological sciences, and our students consistently earn recognition for their scholarship and academic achievement.

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GDPE PhD Area of Specialization

Human/Environment Interactions

Increasing rates of poverty, landlessness, and declining health are co-occurring with rapid shifts in land use, land cover, loss of biodiversity and global warming.

These interconnected human/environmental changes represent a clear risk to the well being of individuals, communities and societies now and in the future.

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Our Curriculum

GDPE's degree programs are rigorous and comprehensive offering both M.S. and Ph.D. tracks in addition to the Human/Environment Interactions specialization.

The GDPE curriculum is designed to provide a breadth and depth of training to MS and PhD students, who will emerge from the program as highly competent and skilled graduates.

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Our Research

The Graduate Degree Program in Ecology is recognized by Colorado State University as a Program of Research and Scholarly Excellence (PRSE). Programs are awarded this designation because they have achieved great distinction and set a standard for excellence that may serve as a model for programs throughout the institution.

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Front Range Student Ecology Symposium

FRSES is a student-run symposium that provides an opportunity for Front Range students doing research in ecology to showcase their work and network in a friendly and supportive peer environment. Highlights include a keynote address by an invited speaker, a full day of poster and oral presentation sessions, an awards banquet to recognize exceptional student work, and a social gathering to celebrate student success.

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Why graduate school at CSU is for you!

"CSU has meant everything to my success. No other university I know of trains its students to work collaboratively across disciplines to solve societal issues. These were the gifts CSU gave me when I arrived and these are the gifts it gives students today. I was so fortunate to learn from the giants in ecosystem ecology how to think big and across disciplines, and apply that knowledge toward solving societal problems."
- Colorado State Scientist Jill Baron

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2017-18 Distinguished Ecologists


GDPE Ecologists in the News

Creating fen initiation conditions: a new approach for peatland reclamation in the oil sands region of Alberta

The global extent of peatlands continues to decline as degradation, conversion and removal occurs from human land-use activities and industrial practices. Concern for these losses has stimulated and increase in compensation measures to restore some degree of the pre-existing community structure and functions. For peatland ecosystems, this can include the recovery of species diversity, hydrologic regime and peat-accumulation processes. Andrea Borkenhagen's paper titled "Creating fen initiation conditions: a new approach for peatland reclamation in the oil sands region of Alberta," co-authored with GDPE faculty David Cooper, discusses moss establishment on various substrates, in various environments, and what that means for the reclamation process. Andrea and David's work was included in the British Ecological Society virtual issue. This issue includes all the award winning and highly commended papers published by early career scientists in the society's five journals in 2016, and was originally published in the Journal of Applied Ecology.

George Wittemyer finds the positive in tragic elephant conservation research

#SaveTheElephants has become a cause celebre in recent years. But for Colorado State University's George Wittemyer, an associate professor in the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology, studying elephants and the effects of poaching on them started when he was an undergraduate at Colorado College in the 1990s. Wittemyer is now a world-renowned expert on elephants. He was the lead author of a landmark study published in 2014 that found an estimated 100,000 elephants in Africa were killed for their ivory between 2010 and 2012. The majestic animals, which Wittemyer describes as one of the most iconic species on the planet, are killed for the ivory in their tusks and teeth. "It's conspicuous consumption, a demonstration of wealth or art," he said. "The art is beautiful, but it's really not necessary in any way. The amount of disruption poaching causes to elephants is a disaster. They are highly social animals, with roles in their societies that progress with age. Killing for ivory removes the oldest individuals in the population, disrupting their populations in many ways. It's really terrible what is happening to the species."

2017 American naturalist Student Paper Award

The recipient of the 2017 award is Seema Seth for her paper "Artificial selection reveals high genetic variation in phenology at the trailing edge of a species range." coauthored with her advisor Amy Angert (Am Nat 187(2): 182-193). The question of wheather populations at range edges have less potential to adapt to environmental change is important and unresolved. Other studies have made timid approaches to this question; hers took it on boldly and directly. Even though artificial selection is now a standard approach in experimental evolution, her paper stood out because the design was comprehensive (including different regions of the range edge), well-motivated (in choosing to select on phenology and to monitor correlated changes in relevant traits), and strongly linked to empirical phenomena (using genotypes from natural populations). The results were dramatic and some were unexpected. The specific difference between the leading and trailing range edges could not have been predicted, and the incorporation of costs of evolution in phenology help explain this difference.