Assistant Research Professor

Contact Information

Office: Traphagen Hall #106
Phone (office):   (406) 994-6915
Fax:  (406) 994-6923


Ph.D., Montana State University, Bozeman, MT 2007
M.S., University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, 1998
B.A., St. Lawrence University, Canton, NY, 1992

Research Interests

My research centers on drivers of ecosystem diversity and change across large spatial and temporal scales.  I am particularly interested in how the interaction between climate and humans act as important controls on fire and vegetation in different settings.  My research aims to develop a framework for understanding the natural resilience of ecosystems to both natural and human caused disturbance in different settings and how human activities and a changing climate might impact ecosystems in the future.

Co-PI on WildFIRE PIRE Project: An international partnership focused on the causes and consequences of fire in the past, present, and future.

Courses Taught

ERTH 102 Megafires: Rare Phenomena or the New Normal 
ERTH 212RN Yellowstone: A Scientific Laboratory 
ERTH 303 Weather and Climate
ERTH 400 Ecological Response to Climate Change 
GPHY 411 Biogeography
GPHY 441R Mountain Geography 

Selected Publications

McWethy, D.B., J.M. Wilmshurst, C. Whitlock, J. Wood, M.S. McGlone. 2014. High-resolution chronology of forest transitions following early human-set fires South Island New Zealand. In press PLoSONE

Whitlock, C., D.B. McWethy, A.J. Tepley, T.T. Veblen, A. Holz, M. McGlone, G.L.W. Perry, J.M. Wilmshurst. Accepted. Past and present vulnerability of closed-canopy temperate forests to altered fire regimes: a comparison of the Pacific Northwest, New Zealand and Patagonia. Accepted Bioscience.

Kirchgeorg, T., S. Schupbach, N. Kehrwald, D.B. McWethy, C. Barbante. 2014. Method for the determination of specific molecular markers of biomass burning in lake sediments. Organic Geochemistry. 71:1-6. 

McWethy, D.B., P.E. Higuera, C. Whitlock, T.T. Veblen, D.M.J.S. Bowman, G.J. Cary, S.G. Haberle, R.E. Keane, B.D. Maxwell, M.S. McGlone, G.L.W. Perry, J.M. Wilmshurst, A. Holz and A.J. Tepley. 2013. A conceptual framework for predicting temperate ecosystem sensitivity to human impacts on fire regimes. Global Ecology and Biogeography. 22:900-912.

Perry, G.L.W., J.M. Wilmshurst, M.S. McGlone, McWethy, D.B., C. Whitlock. 2012. Explaining fire-driven landscape transformation during the ‘initial burning period’ of New Zealand’s prehistory. Global Change Biology. 18:1609–1621.

McWethy D.B., W. F. Cross, C. V. Baxter, C. Whitlock and R.E. Gresswell. 2013. Natural Disturbance Dynamics – Shaping the Yellowstone Landscape. In White, P.J., R.A. Garrott and G.E. Plumb. editors. “Yellowstone’s Wildlife in Transition”. Harvard University Press. 347 p.

McWethy, D.B., C. Whitlock, J.M. Wilmshurst, M.S. McGlone, X. Li, M. Fromont, A. Dieffenbacher-Krall, W.O. Hobbs, S. Fritz and E.R. Cook. 2010. Rapid landscape transformation in South Island, New Zealand following initial Polynesian settlement. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 107:21343-21348.

McWethy, D.B., S.T. Gray, P.E. Higuera, J.S. Littell, G.T. Pederson, A.J. Ray, and C. Whitlock. 2010. Climate and terrestrial ecosystem change in the U.S. Rocky Mountains and Upper Columbia Basin: Historic and future perspectives for resource management. Natural Resource Report NPS/GRYN/NRR-2010/260. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado. 79 p.

Marlon, J.R., Q. Cui, M.-J. Gaillard, McWethy, D., and M. Walsh. 2010. Humans and fire: Consequences of anthropogenic burning during the past 2 ka. Past Global Changes (PAGES). 18:80-82.

Whitlock, C.,P.E. Higuera, D.B. McWethy, and C. Briles. 2010. Paleoecological perspective on fire ecology: revisiting the fire regime concept. The Open Ecology Journal. 3:6-23.

McWethy, D.B., A.J. Hansen and J.P. Verschuyl. 2010. Bird response to disturbance varies with forest productivity in the Pacific Northwest. Landscape Ecology. 25:533-549.

McWethy, D.B., C. Whitlock, J.M. Wilmshurst, M.S. McGlone, and X. Li. 2009. Rapid deforestation of South Island, New Zealand by early Polynesian fires. The Holocene. 19:883-897.

Verschuyl, J.P., A.J. Hansen, and D.B. McWethy. 2009. Assessing species-energy relationships at multiple scales. Letter to the Editor. Ecological Applications. 19:1963-1965.

McWethy, D.B., A.J. Hansen and J.P. Verschuyl. 2009. Edge effects for songbirds vary with forest productivity. Forest Ecology and Management. 257:665-678.

 McWethy, D.B. and J.E. Austin. 2009. Nesting Ecology of Greater Sandhill Cranes (Grus canadensis tabida) in Riparian and Palustrine Wetlands of the Henry’s Fork Watershed in Eastern Idaho. Waterbirds. 32:106-115.

Verschuyl, J.P., A.J. Hansen, D.B. McWethy, R. Sallabanks, and R.L. Hutto. 2008. Is the effect of forest structure on bird diversity modified by forest productivity? Ecological Applications. 18:1155-1170.

McWethy, D.B. 2007. Bird response to landscape pattern and disturbance across productivity gradients in forests of the Pacific Northwest. Dissertation, Montana State University, 2007. 196 p.

Waring, R.H., K.S. Milner, W.M. Jolly, L. Phillips and D. McWethy. 2006. Assessment of site index and forest growth capacity across the Pacific and Inland Northwest U.S.A. with a MODIS satellite-derived vegetation index. Forest Ecology and Management. 228:285-291.