Montana State University

Andrea R. Litt

Department of Ecology
Montana State University
P.O. Box 173460
Bozeman, MT 59717-3460

Tel: (406) 994-2332
Fax: (406) 994-3190
Location: 303 Lewis Hall






Adam, Ross, Andrea, Erin, and Dan - February 2013










Erin, Andrea, Dan, and Ross - August 2014








Available Positions

PDFs of completed student theses

Current Graduate Students

Ross Hinderer

Ross joined the lab in spring 2013. Ross' research focuses on understanding how Chiricahua leopard frogs use desert landscapes. We are partnering with Turner Endangered Species Fund (TESF) to understand the movement of these threatened frogs in areas where water is a scare resource, to try to inform restoration and management of water sources on the Ladder Ranch in New Mexico. TESF is funding Ross and his work.

You can read more about TESF's work on Chiricahua leopard frogs on their website. You can also read Ross' field journal from 2013.


Ben Turnock

Ben joined the lab in summer 2014 and is investigating habitat relationships and genetic connectivity of hoary marmot populations in Montana. We are collaborating with Montana, Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, who also is funding the project. Ben is co-advised by Steven Kalinowski. Ben recently was awarded the Don C. Qumiby Graduate Wildlife Research Scholarship.

Current Undergraduate Students


Adam Starecheski

Adam joined the lab in Spring 2015 after working as a summer field assistant on Ben Turnock's marmot project. Adam is working on an independent research project focused on better understanding the relationship between water sources and occupancy by hoary marmots.


Past Graduate Students


Dan Bachen

Dan joined the lab in fall 2011. Dan's research focuses on understanding the mechanisms that alter abundance of small mammals in ecosystems dominated by nonnative plants. We partnered with Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks to complete this work. Dan has been honored with the Don C. Quimby Graduate Wildlife Research Scholarship, the Kenneth D. Lorang Memorial Award, a research grant and Best Poster award from the Montana chapter of The Wildlife Society and a Graduate Enhancement grant from the Montana Institute on Ecosystems. Dan was named Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant for the Department of Ecology for his contributions to Mammalogy. Dan defended his thesis in May 2014, worked for the Montana Natural Heritage Program, and currently is working for Paul Cross and the Montana Institute on Ecosystems. Hooray!

Brian Bielfelt

Brian investigated the effects of tanglehead on the bird community in grasslands.  This is an interesting question because tanglehead is native to the United States, but in recent years it has begun to behave like an invasive species in parts of south Texas, increasing in distribution and dominance.

Brian has received student awards from Cooper Ornithological Society and the American Orthologist's Union, a travel award from AOU to attend the annual meeting, and a scholarship from the Houston Safari Club. He is working as a wildlife biologist with Sapphos Environmental in California and defended his thesis in November 2012.

Erin Cord

Erin's research focused on understanding how insect communities in areas dominated by native grasses differ from areas dominated by invasive grasses.  She examinined potential changes due to dominance by Kleberg bluestem, a nonnative invasive grass, and tanglehead, a native invasive grass.

Erin was named the 2011 Outstanding Student for the College of Agriculture at TX A&M-Kingsville; she also won 2 awards for her oral presentations.  Erin sucessfully defended her thesis in June 2011, ran the Wildlife Austin program, and now works as a Natural Resource Biologist for Travis County, TX.

Erin Kenison

Erin joined the lab in spring 2012 and is investigating whether we can add habitat complexity to montane lakes to provide refugia for long-toed salamanders from populations of stocked fish. Erin was awarded Matthew F. Clow Memorial Scholarship, a nongame research grant from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, a research grant from CounterAssault, a Student Research Travel grant from the College of Letters and Science at MSU, and a Graduate Enhancement grant from the Montana Institute on Ecosystems. She also received the award for Best Poster Presentation by a Student at the 2013 meeting of the Western Division of the American Fisheries Society and the Wynn Freeman award and Best Student Presentation at the 2014 meeting of the Montana chapter of The Wildlife Society.

Erin defended her thesis in April 2014. She is now in Indiana pursuing her PhD working on hellbenders at Purdue. Way to go!

Adam Mitchell

Adam joined the lab in summer 2011 and is investigating the effectiveness of various soil modification treatments as tools to restore grasslands that have been invaded by Old World bluestem grasses in Texas. He is examining plant and arthropod communities to assess treatment effects. Adam is supported by a Welder Wildlife Foundation Fellowship, as well as funding from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. He also received a Graduate Enhancement grant from the Montana Institute on Ecosystems. Adam defended his thesis in June 2014 and began his PhD at University of Delaware. Congratulations!

Mark Witecha

Mark's research focused on the effects of high-intensity wildfire on small mammal communities at the Chaparral Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in southern Texas.  A large wildfire burned much of the WMA in March 2008 and Mark has been quantifying post-fire recovery.  Buffelgrass and Lehmann lovegrass occur in the area and the changes in vegetation structure created by these plants also have potential implications for the small mammal community.

Mark received a scholarship from the Houston Safari Club.  Mark successfully defended his thesis in October 2011. He is currently employed by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and previously worked for Pheasants Forever in Kansas.


Past Undergraduate Students

Noah Bosworth

Noah joined the lab in spring 2014, working with Dan Bachen to develop a key to Montana shrews based on characteristics of dorsal hairs. Similar tools have been developed in the UK. Noah was able to distinguish some of the shrew species in Montana based on hair morphology. Based in this information, hair snares could be used as a low-cost method to sample the distribution of some species of shrews in Montana. His work was supported by a research grant from the Undergraduate Scholars Program at MSU.

Bryan Cossairt

Bryan joined the lab as a summer intern in 2013, funded through the Montana Institute on Ecosystems. He is working on a collaborative project with the National Park Service and US Geologial Service to better understand the factors affecting vulnerability of freshwater wetlands and associated species in the Greater Yellowstone Area.


Jayme Feyhl-Buska

Jayme was an undergraduate intern during summer 2012 through the Montana Institute on Ecosystems. She built a database of previous research regarding herbivory and climate change and the effects on plant and animal communities, mainly focused on the High Plains region of Montana.