Montana State University

Summer interns undertake Montana climate change research projects

June 11, 2013 -- MSU News Service

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Tel: (406) 994-4571

BOZEMAN – Fifteen Montana University System undergraduates have received summer internships to research climate science related projects at sites throughout Montana.

The Institute on Ecosystems students will work with faculty at The University of Montana and Montana State University on a variety of projects, studying everything from elk, marmots and snowshoe hares to Ponderosa pines and microscopic cyanobacteria.

The Institute on Ecosystems is a multi-institutional community dedicated to understanding complex ecosystems and the interconnectedness of people and nature. Its internship program supports students who explore the effects of climate change in sustaining healthy ecosystems and economic growth.

The students' research findings will be presented at the Institute on Ecosystems annual summit meeting in Helena on Aug. 21 to 23.

“We are excited to fund these students and look forward to their findings,” said Ric Hauer, Institute on Ecosystems director at UM. “One of our institute's primary goals is to support the next generation of ecosystem scientists. These students are our future.”

“Climate impacts nearly every sector of our economy -- from agriculture to tourism,” said Cathy Whitlock, MSU's IoE director. “These students are researching important questions that will give us valuable information about Montana's vulnerability to climate change.”

Montana interns, along with their hometowns, research topic and project location are:

  • Billings. Kayli Anderson: Temperature dependence of hydrogen metabolism in the nitrogen-fixing cyanobacterium Mastigocladus laminosus, Yellowstone National Park.
  • Bozeman. Dominique David: Snowshoe hare behavioral response to a potential predator, Northern Rockies, Wilderness Society.
  • Great Falls. Katie Noland: Soils and their relationship to ecosystem health in the context of the Northern Great Plains, Judith River Watershed, American Prairie Reserve.
  • Missoula. Kimberly Ledger: Biogeographical investigation of exotic invasion, UM campus. Gilia Patterson: Resin duct density and growth in Ponderosa pines, Lubrecht Experimental Forest.
  • Pablo. Matthew Weingart: Reconstructing the late-glacial and Holocene vegetation, fire and climate history of Swan Lake through analysis of lake sediment cores, Swan Lake,  Yellowstone National Park.        
  • Polson. Hannah Funke. Relationship between Pinus contorta recruitment in meadows and fire in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.                           

Students from Alaska, Idaho, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Utah, Vermont and Washington were also selected as Institute on Ecosystems interns.

Contact: Martha Sellers, Montana Institute on Ecosystems, (406) 994-7568 or