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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2016-17 Distinguished Ecologists


GDPE Ecologists in the News

Microbial traits, not plants, determine abundance of soil organic matter

Healthy soil is rich in organic matter, but scientists have yet to fully understand exactly how that organic matter is formed. Colorado State University soil scientist Cynthis Kallenbach has contributed new insight, offering evidence for microbial pathways being the chief originator of the organic matter found in stable soil carbon pools. Kallenbach, a postdoctoral researcher in the Natural Resources Ecology Laboratory, co-authored a recent Nature Communications paper on the topic with Professors Stuart Grandy and Serita Frey of the University of New Hampshire, where Kallenbach completed her Ph.D. She is working now with Matthew Wallenstein, assistant professor in ecosystem science and sustainability in the Warner College of Natural Resources. In the study, which was conducted at University of New Hampshire, Kallenbach et al. suggest that soil organic matter accumulates from inputs of dead microbial cells and microbial byproducts formed when microbes eat plant roots and residues, rather than from plants themselves, as previously thought.

Researching the bison's return to the prairie

In November 2015, an unprecedented experiment led by Colorado State University started about 25 miles north of Fort Collins. Bison, once native to the area, had been absent for over a century. That changed when the Laramie Foothills Bison Conservation herd was released onto a 1,000-acre pasture at Soapstone Prairie Natural Area and Red Mountain Open Space. The monumental effort, the result of numerous partnerships, also provides unique research opportunities. Kate Wilkins, a Ph.D. candidate in ecology in the Warner College of Natural Resources, is studying the ecological and social impacts of reintroducing bison on the prairie. Wilkins began her research on the area prior to the reintroduction to establish a baseline. "I'm looking at birds, mammals and plants, and how they're affected by bison," Wilkins said. The CSU team conducted wildlife surveys using 60 cameras spread throughout the bison's range. This generated 174,000 photos in a single season. Wilkins and researchers are still reviewing more than 80,000 images to differentiate data points of animals from photos of grass blowing in the wind, which also triggered the motion-sensing cameras.

Cultural experiences, marine biology combine in Todos Santos

Two professors - who first met more than 20 years ago in Alaska - were reunited in May, further south in the much warmer location of Todos Santos. Both researchers study mammals that live in the sea and how those animals are adapted to their environments: Shane Kanatous, associate professor in Colorado State University's department of Biology, and Tania Zenteno-Savin, professor of environmental planning and conservation at Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas del Noroeste (CIBNOR) in La Paz, Baja California Sur, first met in Alaska during a Harbor seal research trip in Prince William Sound. Now, 20 years later, they have connected again through the CSU Todos Santos Center. Kanatous was team-teaching a CSU field marine biology course with Graham Peers from the Department of Biology. Their students explored the marine environment and discovering ways to learn from and interact with residents whose families have been living in the area for generations.