Montana State University

Department of Ecology

Department of Ecology
Montana State University
310 Lewis Hall
Bozeman, MT 59717-3460

Tel: (406) 994-4548
Fax: (406) 994-3190

Department Head

Dr. David Roberts


    • Scott Creel Ph.D.; Behavioral endocrinology; conservation biology; population biology; social evolution; and biology of carnivores.
    • Robert Garrott Ph.D.; Ecology, population dynamics, management and conservation of mammalian species.
    • Daniel Goodman Ph.D.; Applied Mematical demography; evolutionary demographic theory; environmental statistics; and environmental modeling.
    • Andrew J. Hansen Ph.D.; Landscape ecology and management; land use effects on biodiversity; sustaining greater park ecosystems; conservation biology.
    • Thomas McMahon Ph.D.; Wild trout management; fish-habitat relationships; winter ecology; conservation biology of salmonids.
    • David W. Roberts Ph.D. ; Vegetation ecology; ecological modeling; and multivariate analysis of ecological data.
    • Jay J. Rotella Ph.D.; Ecology; population dynamic;, habitat relationships; and management of avian species.
    • T. Weaver Ph.D. ; Physiological, community and ecosystem ecology of the Northern Rocky Mountains; and long-term field experiments.
    • Alexander V. Zale Ph.D.(Affiliate) ; Applied aquatic ecology; effects of hydropower and reservoirs on fish populations; fisheries management.


    •Christopher Guy Ph.D.(Affiliate); Applied fisheries science; population ecology; predator-prey interactions; and fisheries management.
    •Billie L. Kerans Ph.D. ; Behavior, ecology and evolution of freshwater macro invertebrates; and assessing the impact of human disturbances on freshwater ecosystems.
    • Mark L. Taper Ph.D.; Scientific evidence; statistical ecology; spatial ecology; and co-evolution theory.

Assistant Professors

    • Wyatt Cross Ph.D.; Aquatic food webs and ecosystem; ecological stoichiometry; cross-ecosystem material subsidies.
    •Steven Kalinowski Ph.D.;Conservation and evolutionary genetics.

Degree Offered

M.S. in Biological Sciences
M.S. in Fish and Wildlife Management
M.S. in Land Rehabilitation (Intercollege: Land Resources & Environmental Science)
M.S. in Ecological & Environmental Statistics (Interdepartmental: Mathematical Sciences)
PhD in Fish and Wildlife Biology
PhD in Biological Sciences
PhD in Ecology and Environmental Sciences (Intercollege: Ecology, LRES, ESCI, ARNR, and PSPP)

The department offers advanced work leading to Master of Science degrees in biological sciences, fish & wildlife management, land rehabilitation, and ecological and environmental statistics. The Master's degree may be taken under either Plan A (thesis) or Plan B (without thesis). At the doctoral level, the Doctor of Philosophy degree is offered in ecology and environmental sciences, biological sciences and in fish and wildlife biology. At both the Master’s and Doctoral level the following areas of study are available: terrestrial and aquatic ecology, fish and wildlife management, evolutionary biology, quantitative ecology, and conservation biology.

Successful applicants are accepted into both the department and Division of Graduate Education.


Only a limited number of graduate students are admitted to our program each year.  There is an excellent article written by Dr. Al Zale, Director of the Fishery Cooperative Research Unit, "How to Surpass the Competition," which you may find helpful as you think about applying for admission. We accept students into the program based on their academic performance, graduate record examination scores, recommendation letters, experience, and potential for scientific and professional excellence.  Students must meet the minimum entrance requirements to be considered by an advisor.

Qualified students must secure an agreement from a faculty member who is willing to serve as major professor, or graduate academic advisor .  We do not accept students into the program unless an advisor has agreed to supervise the student. Generally, the major professor will identify a research project and possible sources of funding as part of the admission process. We highly recommend that you formally apply only after a faculty member indicates that he or she is willing to serve as your graduate advisor. 

Program Requirements

The minimum credit requirement for a master's degree is 30 credits, and at least 20 credits must be from course work other than thesis work.  A minimum of 10 thesis credits must be successfully completed. Minimum thesis registration is one (1) credit for a semester.

The minimum credit requirement for a Doctoral degree is 60 credits beyond the bachelor's degree, and at least 42 credits must be from course work other than thesis work. A minimum of 18 thesis credits must be successfully completed. A maximum of 30 credits from a previously earned Master’s degree may be applied toward the 60 credit requirement.

No specific courses are required for graduate degrees. The program of study is determined by the graduate committee following Division of Graduate Education guidelines.

Financial Assistance

Graduate Teaching Assistantships (GTAs) are chosen in the semester before the next academic semester, and reflect teaching needs and financial assistance needs. GTA’s carry tuition fee waivers, and in 2007/08 the stipend was a total of $1140.89 per month during the nine-month academic year. This includes money to be used for medical insurance which is not provided directly by the department. (For further graduate school expenses, consult the MSU fee schedules as provided in the Graduate Catalog.) Graduate Research Assistantships (GRAs) are research project-specific and are awarded by individual faculty as funds are available. GRA stipends are comparable to those of GTAs but often cover the calendar year or multiple years. Some fee waivers may be available with GRAs depending upon funding sources.

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