Mountain View

Predicting effects of climate warming on stream ecosystem structure and function

non-snowy mountainsSnowy Mountains

We have been studying the influence of temperature and nutrient supply (i.e., nitrogen and phosphorus) on the structure and function of stream ecosystems in the Hengill region of Iceland. Streams in this area are variably warmed by geothermal heat, with mean temperatures ranging from 5°C to 30°C. Although temperatures are variable, stream solute chemistry is similar due to the indirect warming of groundwater. Thus, streams in this area provide a unique natural laboratory for examining effects of climate warming and other perturbations on on stream structure and function. 

We’ have just recieved an NSF-NERC grant to extend our research to examine the effects of warming on stream ecosystem responses to drought.  We plan to conduct drought experiments across a range of temperatures at the whole-stream scale (in Iceland) and in replicated mesocosms (at U of Birmingham, UK).  

We are recruiting two graduate students - 1 PhD and 1 MS - to examine the structural and functional responses of invertebrate food webs to warming and drought (start May/June 2024). These students will work closely with other students from the University of Alabama and the UK. 

We seek highly motivated students with an interest in freshwater ecology, previous research experience, a strong work ethic, and a commitment to collaboration and teamwork. Students will be based at Montana State University, but field observations and experiments will take place during the spring-summer periods in Iceland (Hengill Geothermal Area) and England (EcoLaboratory Facility, Birmingham, UK).

These positions will be funded with a combination of research and teaching assistantships, tuition waivers, and a health benefits allowance. 

To apply, please send a CV, a cover letter describing your background, previous experience, career goals, and why you are interested in the position, and a list of three professional references to [email protected]


The Team


Other long-term collaborators 

  • Jim Hood, Ohio State University
  • Jon Olafsson, Iceland Marine and Freshwater Research institute
  • Eoin O'Gorman, University of Essex
  • Guy Woodward, Imperial College London
  • Jill Welter, School for International Training
  • Paula Furey, St. Catherine University
  • Benoit Demars, Norwegian Water Research Institute