Available Positions: None at this time.

Diane Debinski

Department Head, Department of Ecology

B.A. 1984, University of Maryland                                                           
M.S. 1986, University of Michigan
Ph.D. 1991, Montana State University

I pursue research and teaching in the fields of conservation biology, landscape ecology, global climate change, wildlife biology, and restoration ecology.

Associated Roles:

Advisor for eButterfly, an online citizen science butterfly tracking checklist   



Cayley Faurot-Daniels

M.S. Graduate Student in Biological Sciences, Montana State University

Cayley Faurot-Daniels

I am pursuing my master's degree and will be co-advised by Dr. Diane Debinski and Dr. Michelle Flenniken. Broadly, I am interested in alpine ecology and long-term monitoring of communities sensitive to climate change. My current research will assess temporal changes of alpine pollinator communities in Glacier National Park by resurveying butterfly biodiversity in monitoring plots established by Diane Debinski in 1987-1989. I will also compare traditional surveys to novel molecular techniques by using wildflowers as a source of environmental DNA for DNA metabarcoding of pollinators. 




Previous Members (Recent Years)

Simone Durney

Simone Durney

PhD Graduate Student in Ecology & Environmental Sciences, Montana State University

My research focused on monitoring and examining populations of Parnassius clodius, a high-elevation butterfly in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, and understanding how increasing temperatures and decreasing snowpack affects host plant and nectar sources for this species.






Thomas Meinzen

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M.S. Graduate Student in Biological Sciences, Montana State University

I studied roadside pollinator ecology and conservation of bees and butterflies in Idaho's Snake River Plain, with a special focus on the monarch butterfly. My research project investigated how roadside management, road class, and floral resources affect monarch butterfly, milkweed, and pollinator community distribution in southern Idaho, and how roadsides can be better managed to support monarchs and other imperiled pollinators.







Erin McCall

Erin McCall

Research and Field Tech, Montana State University

I was a research and field tech in the Debinski lab from 2017-2019. My summer research involved surveying populations of Parnassius butterflies and testing how the butterfly's nectar plants responded to experimental warming and snow removal in Grand Teton National Park. The rest of my time I was creating a database to examine whether the phenology of Monarch butterflies and their host and nectar plants have changed over the past several decades. My other interests lie in teaching and outreach to engage the communities in research and science.




Nick Lyon

Nick Lyon

Graduate Student, Iowa State University                                    

Received M.S. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in 2019.  I joined the Debinski lab in May of 2016 to pursue an M.S. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. My interests are broadly focused in restoration ecology and conservation biology, with a strong emphasis on communication and collaboration with non-scientist partners. My research focused on developing adaptive management strategies for active Midwestern pastureland aimed at controlling invasive tall fescue while also increasing habitat suitability for native pollinator species. I also used species distribution modeling techniques to model the potential for range shifts of key floral resource plant species under different climatic scenarios.

Thesis title: An integrated approach to restoring grassland function to working landscapes

Tori Pocius

Tori Pocius

Graduate Student, Iowa State University

Received Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in 2018. I am interested in pollinator conservation, plant-insect interactions, restoration ecology, environmental education and outreach, and global change biology. Dissertation title:  Monarch butterfly preference and use of nine Midwestern milkweed species.




Hilary Haley

Hilary Haley

Graduate Student, Iowa State University

Received M.S. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in 2018. My interests include conservation biology, restoration ecology, botany, and native pollinator conservation.  To better understand the long term effects of habitat restoration on native pollinator populations, I studied the abundance and diversity of native bees found on prairie remnants and reconstruction plantings in the Grand River Grasslands.  Thesis title: Evaluating Native Bee Community Responses to Tallgrass Prairie Habitat Restorations.


Jen Vogel

Post-doctoral Research Associate
Received Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in December 2011 from Iowa State University. Dissertation research focused on bird responses to vegetation diversity in restored grasslands in Northwest Iowa. Completed her M.S. degree at Iowa State in 2006 studying butterfly responses to prairie restoration using fire and grazing in the Loess Hills of Iowa.

Ray Moranz

Post-doctoral Research Associate
Studied ecology of grassland invertebrates in the Grand River Grasslands of southern Iowa and northern Missouri to obtain, analyze, and interpret data on the responses of invertebrates and floral resources to patch-burn grazing and other prairie management practices. Some of our research foci included: 1)  studying responses of butterfly populations to changes in nectar source availability, 2) evaluating the effects of environmental variables on butterfly communities and populations, and 3) comparing different sampling methods for assessing butterfly abundance. 

Rhea (von Busse) Waldman

Post-doctoral Research Associate

Worked on bat flight for most of her scientific career and transitioned into research on butterfly flight while at ISU. She took complex situations and behaviors from the field and simulated them in a wind tunnel using simplified and controllable conditions. With this approach we studied butterfly behavior, kinematics, and aerodynamics in the context of habitat edge effects.

Kristin Kane

Post-doctoral Research Associate

Modelled effects of climate change on plant species distributions in the Grand River Grasslands of Iowa and Missouri. This work contributed to the North Central Climate Science Center University consortium and provided up to date climate science and tools to inform natural resource managers and stakeholders to set priorities for conservation action.

Audrey McCombs

Completed a PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in the Statistics Department at Iowa State University.  As part of her graduate work, she studied landscape genetics of Parnassius butterflies and how warming temperatures affect meadow-wide nectar resources. 

David Stein

Thesis Title: Evaluating Pollinator Responses to Grassland Management Techniques

Karin (Grimlund) Jokela

Thesis Title: An examination of the complex ecological role of tall fescue in grassland restoration

John Delaney

Dissertation Title: Utilizing novel grasslands for the conservation and restoration of butterflies and other pollinators in agricultural ecosystems

Kim Szcondronski

Thesis Title: Assessing population status and identifying key habitat requirements for Parnassius butterflies in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Jill Sherwood

Thesis Title: Experimentally simulating environmental change in a montane meadow system via reduced snowpack and passive warming:  soil and plant responses

Brian F.M. Olechnowski

Dissertation Title: Determining the Critical Variables Controlling Avian Diversity, Community Composition, and Habitat Selection across Natural and Restored Temperate Ecosystems in North America

Jennet Caruthers

Thesis Title: Montane Meadow Butterfly Community Dynamics along a hydrological gradient within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem

Jessica Orlofske

Thesis Title: Terrestrial Arthropod Indicators of Iowa Tall-grass Prairie

Sheri Svehla

Dissertation Title: Effects of Patch-Burn-Grazing Land Management Practice on the Tallgrass Prairie Insect Community with a Specific Focus on Ground Beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae)