Bunchgrass Ridge

Ecology and restoration of conifer-invaded meadows:
Research and adaptive management

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Student research at Bunchgrass Ridge  
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Graduate students
High school students
Graduate and undergraduate studies are integral to the broader program of research, education, and outreach at Bunchgrass Ridge. Opportunities exist to build on previous research, to contribute to ongoing experiments, or to pursue indpendent research in a diversity of fields.

Graduate student research

Mentoring as an element of student research

Engaging high school students in field work is a new direction for Bunchgrass researchers. In 2011, Princeton University undergraduate, Maddy Case incorporated mentoring into her senior thesis study of the effects of gopher mounds and castings on meadow community structure. Here is her story:

"I will continue to make mentorship and outreach a key part of my work as a scientist."

"I knew it would be incredibly helpful to have an assistant," writes Maddy, "and I would have loved to have spent a summer doing field research when I was in high school." With this in mind, she asked her science teachers at Catlin Gabel School in Portland, Oregon, about students who were enthusiastic about ecology and working outdoors.

Sarah Koe in fog 2011
"Sarah was unflappably cheerful and excited about the work."

"One of the teachers sent Sarah Koe my way. I couldn't have asked for a better assistant—she was unflappably cheerful and excited about the work, and the experience benefited both of us."

"I was immensely grateful for Sarah's willingness to volunteer her time for an entire summer, and for the grant (Becky Colvin Memorial Award) that covered Sarah's room and board."

Sarah learned a lot about the process of scientific research, and Maddy gained experience mentoring a younger student and making it rewarding for her. "I enjoyed it so much that I know I will continue to make mentorship and outreach a key part of my work as a scientist."

Sarah Koe graduated from Catlin Gabel School in 2012, earning a science award. She went on to earn a B.A. in Geology from Bates College in Maine. Maddy Case is in the Ph.D. program in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at Yale University. She is studying the interactions between plant communities, disturbance, and global change.

Maddy & Sarah 2011
Setting up a gopher disturbance plot just after snow-melt.
Recording plant cover and diversity several weeks later.

Also see an article in the Princeton Environmental Institute's newsletter about Maddy's research experiences.


New results Celis, J. M.S. Thesis (2015), Oregon State University. The role of intraspecific functional trait variation in the differential decline of meadow species following conifer encroachment. 66 p. Link

Ryan D. Haugo. Ph.D. dissertation (2010), University of Washington. Causes and consequences of conifer invasion into Pacific Northwest grasslands. PDF. Related publications: Request reprints

Ryan D. Haugo. M.S. thesis (2006), University of Washington. Vegetation responses to conifer encroachment in a dry, montane meadow: a chronosequence approach. Related publication: PDF

Janine M. Rice. Ph.D. dissertation (2009), Oregon State University. Forest-meadow dynamics in the central western Oregon Cascades: Topographic, biotic, and environmental change effects. Link. Related publication: Request reprint

Nicole L. Lang. M.S. thesis (2006), University of Washington. The soil seed bank of an Oregon montane meadow: consequences of conifer encroachment and implications for restoration. Related publications: PDF

Independent undergraduate research

Shan Kothari. Independent research (2013), Michigan State University. Causes of species compositional change in a montane meadow restoration experiment. NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Fellowship.

Maddy Case. Senior thesis (2012), Princeton University. Gopher disturbance and plant community dynamics in montane meadows. Becky Colvin Memorial Award. Poster. Related publication: Request reprint. Also see: Princeton Environmental Institute news article.

Allyssa Kilanowski. Independent research (2009), St. Lawrence University. Vegetation responses to pile burning following conifer removal from a montane meadow. Related publication: PDF

Sheena Kaas (formerly Sheena Hillstrom). Independent research (2007-2008), Washington State University. Effects of burn treatments on vegetation and soil following conifer removal from a montane meadow. Ecological Society of America, Strategies for Ecology Education, Diversity and Sustainability (SEEDS). Related publication: PDF

Nina Griffin. Independent research (2007), University of Maine. Plant diversity in bunchgrass meadows: an analysis of the intermediate disturbance hypothesis through gopher mounds. NSF Ecosystem Informatics – Oregon State University EcoInformatics Summer Institute.

Kyle Smith. Independent research (2005), University of Washington. Effects of conifer encroachment and changes in forest structure on understory light.

Jessica Niederer. Independent research (2004), Cornell University. Gopher disturbance in meadows: effects on species diversity and heterogeneity. NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Fellowship. Related publication: Request reprint

International exchange students

Nicolas J. Kremer. Independent research (2013), Bordeaux Sciences Agro, France. Conifer reinvasion of montane meadows following experimental tree removal and prescribed burning. Request reprint

Ziyu Ma. Independent research (2005), Sichuan University (Chengdu). Vegetation dynamics in a montane meadow: effects of conifer encroachment. University of Washington-Sichuan University Undergraduate Exchange Program Fellowship.

Florian Steer, Tina Volkl, and Katrin Wendt. Undergraduate research internships (2004), University of Applied Sciences, Department of Forest Science and Forestry, Freising, Germany.

Michael Frank and Marcus Koch. Undergraduate research internships (2003), University of Applied Sciences, Department of Forest Science and Forestry, Freising, Germany.

High school students

Liam Beckman and Shannon Ritz. Independent research (2013), Sandy High School, Sandy, Oregon. Plant recovery in burn scars following tree removal from a Cascade Range Meadow. NSF Research Assistantships for High School Students (RAHSS). Poster. Related publication: Request reprint

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