Explore the Montana Climate Assessment, and access resources about what we know and how we know what we know about Montana's past, current, and future climate.



  What makes bees sick? 

A conversation with Michelle Flenniken, Assistant Research Professor of Plant Sciences & Plant Pathology at Montana State University

Like many species, bees and other pollinators are key components of our ecosystem but are also susceptible to a changing climate. Researchers around the Nation are working to assess the impact of climate change on bees and other pollinators.

What is the question people most often ask you regarding your research?

The most common question is “What’s killing the bees?” – and unfortunately there doesn’t appear to be a simple answer. Research to date suggests that multiple biotic and abiotic factors contribute to colony health and survival (e.g., viruses, mites, microbes, bee genetics, weather, forage quality and availability, management practices, and agrochemical exposure). Although no single factor is responsible for colony losses or Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), honey bee samples from CCD-affected colonies had greater pathogen (e.g., viruses and Nosema) prevalence and abundance compared to unaffected colonies (Cornman et al. 2012; Cox-Foster et al. 2007; Johnson et al. 2009; Steinhauer et al. 2015; vanEngelsdorp et al. 2009).

Climate-Related Student Research Projects

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Institute on Ecosystems Climate-Related Student Research Projects

Students from The University of Montana, Montana Tech, Montana State University and Salish Kootenai College have particpated in environmental and climate change research projects in sites across Montana and the world.

If you'd like to add your research project to the map, please contact Suzi Taylor at to get a link to the online form.

Citizen Science

Through hands-on Citizen Science projects, volunteers partner with researchers to collect scientific data that answers real-world questions.


Habitat Connections: Birds and Citizen Science

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The Montana Girls STEM Collaborative, an outreach program of Montana NSF EPSCoR, was chosen to participate in Habitat Connections: Birds and Citizen Science, a program of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.


Elk Grazing

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Citizen scientists learned about the impact of climate change on elk in the Upper Yellowstone River Basin while picking up elk scat samples at the Dome Mountain Wildlife Management Area in Paradise Valley. The project was designed to help Montana State University graduate student Erica Garroutte gather data on how climate change may be affecting the timing of grassland greenup and, in turn, elk foraging patterns.


Using Technology to Research After Class (UTRAC)

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Using Technology to Research After Class (UTRAC) is a Montana State University, Montana EPSCOR, and Montana Institute on Ecosystems project to engage youth in scientific explorations relating to the water and carbon cycles – in their very own school playgrounds. In this project, youth in Montana will participate in hands-on, inquiry-based activities and data collection in informal educational settings, such as after school programs and summer camps.


Here you will find a variety of free climate related resources including lesson plans, one-page information sheets, videos of science talks, short activities and kits.


Scat, Transects, and Changing of Season

    Montana State University Academic Technology & Outreach

Students investigate elk scat (represented by colored candies) to understand the effects of climate change on grassland phenology (the timing of when the grass turns green) and elk migration.


Sharing the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem

    Montana State University Academic Technology & Outreach

Through an active strategy game, students will experience the frustrations of trying to balance the needs of wildlife conservation, ranchers, home developers, and wildlife conservationists in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. (Teachers could substitute another ecosystem with which they are familiar). Participants will also discuss possible solutions for accommodating all stakeholders.


Colony Collapse: What Makes Bees Sick?

    Montana State University Academic Technology & Outreach

Honey bees are the primary pollinator of the United States’ food supply, and many Montana beekeepers transport their bees throughout the U.S. to pollinate crops such as almonds. Honey bees live in large family groups called colonies. When these colonies get sick, they can die, or “collapse.” Unfortunately, nearly 30% of colonies collapse each winter in the U.S.


Exploring Ecosystems

    Montana State University Academic Technology & Outreach

Information about climate and the impacts of climate change on Montana from the US Global Change Research Program, the US Climate Science Program, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and EPA's Climate Change Indicators in the United States.

Montana Climate Assessment

The Montana Climate Assessment began with efforts to identify which climate change topics were important to Montanans in ensuring the state’s economic and cultural viability. The report is the result of two years of effort by university faculty and students, state and federal agency researchers, non-profit organizations, resource managers, and citizens from across Montana. It is hoped that this first Montana Climate Assessment motivates much-needed discussion and leads to science-informed planning efforts and action in the areas of water, forests, and agriculture, as well as sets a pathway for future climate-change research relevant to Montana.

Montanan’s right to clean, healthful environment An increased understanding of the changes happening in Montana, now and into the future, should help our state plan, make decisions, and take actions to promote the well-being of Montanans and our treasured landscapes for many years to come.



Climate in My Backyard (CLIMB) is an educational outreach program serving K-12 schools and informal educators. These dynamic educational modules are designed to engage and inspire students by connecting them with climate science researchers in Montana and the Rocky Mountain West. Through hands-on experiments and personal interactions with scientists and university students, young people will learn STEM skills such as collecting and sharing data; developing models and making predictions; and communicating and collaborating with other classrooms.

Climate In My Backyard was developed by Montana NSF EPSCoR (the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research), which advances Montana's science and engineering capabilities for discovery, innovation and overall knowledge-based prosperity. Montana NSF EPSCoR’s flagship research program is the Montana Institute on Ecosystems (IoE), a statewide, university system-led effort dedicated to understanding the effects of climate change on sustaining healthy ecosystems and economic growth. Montana State University Academic Technology & Outreach (ATO) is the outreach arm of Montana NSF EPSCoR at Montana State University.

MSU Extended U        ioe        NSF        EPSCoR

Contact Us

For more information about CLIMB please contact:
Suzi Taylor
Director of Outreach
Montana State University Academic Technology & Outreach