elk in snow

Elk, Yellowstone National Park

missouri river

Missouri River Research Site, Montana

Our Department

Diversity and cooperation are key values of the department. Members of the faculty are involved in research spanning a broad range of disciplines, including vegetation ecology, terrestrial and aquatic ecology, population biology, fish and wildlife management, animal behavior, evolution, community ecology, statistical ecology, and landscape ecology.

The Ecology Department has one of the highest enrollments of undergraduates and the highest graduate student enrollment/FTE of any department in the College of Letters and Science, with approximately 400 undergraduate majors in four options, and 50 graduate students (currently approximately 40 M.S., 20 Ph.D.). 

The 15 tenure-track faculty members, two Federal cooperators, and three non-tenure track faculty in our department teach more than 2100  enrolled students during spring, summer and fall semesters, for a total of well over 5000 SCH. Ecology teaches the largest enrollment biology course on campus (BIOB 170IN), and teaches six CORE 2.0 classes in total. You may want to browse the complete list of courses taught by the department faculty or the course descriptions.

Our faculty advises an average of five graduate students per tenure track faculty member, comprising over 15% of all graduate students in the College of Letters and Science, and over 10% of all Ph.D.'s on campus. Our teaching and research programs address issues that are central to the purpose of a land-grant institution, particularly to Montana. The Ecology Department is extremely research active, with the largest research-based graduate program in science at MSU. The department conducts research for over 50 federal, state, and NGO agencies in Montana, the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, and around the world, including eastern Africa and Antarctica. The faculty and location of the Ecology Department make us highly competitive with peer institutions to meet the challenges of scientific inquiry and natural resource management in the 21st century. Consequently, the department has developed a strong national reputation for linking fundamental ecology with wildlife conservation and management.

Ecology at MSU

The Department of Ecology was formed July 1, 2000. The department's teaching and research addresses critical ecological and natural resources issues for Montana, but also tackles fundamental and applied questions around the globe.

Undergraduate programs within the department include Fish & Wildlife Management and Ecology, Conservation Biology and Ecology, Organismal Biology, and Biology Teaching. Graduate programs (M.S. and Ph.D.) include Fish & Wildlife Management or Biology, Biological Science, and Ecology and Environmental Science degrees. There are no online degree programs currently available due to the supervised field or research experiences required in a number of courses.

The Department is also home to the Montana Cooperative Fishery Research Unit.

The Ecology Department provides undergraduate and graduate education and research that advance our understanding of the interactions between living organisms and their environments.

This ecological knowledge is critical to the conservation and management of the state's resources, including fish, wildlife, plants and the ecosystems and landscapes that sustain them. Montana’s natural resources are highly diverse and valuable to the state; thus, our department’s contributions have major impacts on many complex issues.

Our educational and scientific contributions reach beyond the borders of Montana and include leading basic and applied ecological research in regional, national, and international issues. Recent research has shown that our faculty leads the world in ecological research in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem.