Our Research Baron and her team visiting Rocky Mountain National Park on Sept. 20, 2013 to collect samples after the historic Colorado floods. Our Program Our Curriculum Specialization Front Range Student Ecology Symposium Photo is courtesy of Caroline Melle. It was taken near her research site at Imnavait Creek by Toolik Lake field station, AK Diana Wall and crew in Antarctica Chris Funk and crew hiking in Oyacachi, Ecuador Kurogawa (Kuro Stream), a stream with native Japanese charr and salmon in the mountains of Shikoku Island, southern Japan – image by David Herasimtschuk

Our Program

Since its inception in 1992, GDPE has grown to become a principal organization that catalyzes cutting-edge and world-renowned ecological research performed at Colorado State University.

Our primary goal is to provide outstanding training for graduate students in the ecological sciences, and our students consistently earn recognition for their scholarship and academic achievement.

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GDPE PhD Area of Specialization

Human/Environment Interactions

Increasing rates of poverty, landlessness, and declining health are co-occurring with rapid shifts in land use, land cover, loss of biodiversity and global warming.

These interconnected human/environmental changes represent a clear risk to the well being of individuals, communities and societies now and in the future.

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Our Curriculum

GDPE's degree programs are rigorous and comprehensive offering both M.S. and Ph.D. tracks in addition to the Human/Environment Interactions specialization.

The GDPE curriculum is designed to provide a breadth and depth of training to MS and PhD students, who will emerge from the program as highly competent and skilled graduates.

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Our Research

The Graduate Degree Program in Ecology is recognized by Colorado State University as a Program of Research and Scholarly Excellence (PRSE). Programs are awarded this designation because they have achieved great distinction and set a standard for excellence that may serve as a model for programs throughout the institution.

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Front Range Student Ecology Symposium

FRSES is a student-run symposium that provides an opportunity for Front Range students doing research in ecology to showcase their work and network in a friendly and supportive peer environment. Highlights include a keynote address by an invited speaker, a full day of poster and oral presentation sessions, an awards banquet to recognize exceptional student work, and a social gathering to celebrate student success.

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Why graduate school at CSU is for you!

"CSU has meant everything to my success. No other university I know of trains its students to work collaboratively across disciplines to solve societal issues. These were the gifts CSU gave me when I arrived and these are the gifts it gives students today. I was so fortunate to learn from the giants in ecosystem ecology how to think big and across disciplines, and apply that knowledge toward solving societal problems."
- Colorado State Scientist Jill Baron

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News & Events

AUG: GDPE Fall Meeting & Picnic



4:30 - 8 pm
Club Tico, City Park

GDPE community comes together to kick-off the new year.

OCT: GDPE Resident Distinguished Ecologist LeRoy Poff



3 - 4 pm
Lory Student Center, Cherokee Park Ballroom

Join us in honoring GDPE Resident Distinguished Ecologist, Dr. LeRoy Poff. His seminar will be held in the Lory Student Center, Cherokee Park Room. Immediately following, a University Club reception will be held in his honor.

NOV: GDPE Honor Alumnus Brandon Bestelmeyer



3 - 4 pm
Lory Student Center, Cherokee Park Ballroom

Dr. Brandon Bestelmeyer, GDPE graduate, will be speaking about his current work as well as his road from graduate school to his current position. Immediately following, a reception will be held in his honor.

2016-17 Distinguished Ecologists


GDPE Ecologists in the News

Climate Smart Ag efforts gain momentum

Colorado State University's expanding Climate Smart Agriculture initiatives deepened its international focus as a four-member group from Fort Collins traveled to Rome earlier this summer for the Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization office. The GACSA forum focused on the three pillars of CSA: productivity, adaptation and mitigation. The CSU delegation, which included Office of Engagement Vice President Lou Swanson, Vice President for Research Alan Rudolph, Department of Soil and Crop Sciences Professor Rajiv Khosla, and Ecosystem Science and Sustainability Professor Dennis Ojima, further reinforced the university's leadership in the area of climate smart agriculture. "Colorado State had the largest presence among U.S. universities at the Rome forum," Swanson said. "We are a founding member of GACSA, and are working in a number of areas across campus, around the state and globally to further develop effective socioeconomic and ecological programs that address challenges associated with changing weather patterns, especially in terms of producer adaptability and resiliency."

Biology dives deep at CSU's Todos Santos Center in Mexico

Although CSU students experience the wilds of Colorado's Rocky Mountains and the Great Plains regularly, study whales, sea turtles, and marine fish in the College of Natural Sciences' Department of Biology has largely been an academic exercise - until this year. This summer term, seven eager undergraduate students spent nearly three weeks in the field - and on the water- in the first Field Marine Biology course at CSU's Todos Santos Center in Baja California Sur, Mexico. Shane Kanatous, associate professor of biology, and Graham Peers, assistant professor of biology, led the class. "Baja California is a narrow strip of Sonoran Desert with mountain peaks, the Pacific Ocean on one side and the Sea of Cortez on the other," said Mike Antolin, chair of the Department of Biology. Earlier this year, the department organized a Computational Biology and Genomics Workshop for local students, taught by CSU faculty Kim Hoke, associate professor; Tai Montgomery, assistant professor; and Dan Sloan, assistant professor - with local help from Aines Castro Prieto.

Study: Ptarmigan reproduction in Colorado varies, likely not linked to warming trends

Animals that live at high elevations are often assumed to be at risk for extinction as habitats warm and change. But a new study led by Colorado State University researchers found that ptarmigan, which live in cold ecosystems, are not strongly affected by fluctuations in seasonal weather at two populations studied in Colorado. The results, published July 15 in the journal PLOS ONE, are surprising, given the general perception of alpine animal populations as vulnerable to recent climate warming, study authors said. Ptarmigan are grouse that live in cold ecosystems, such as alpine and tundra habitats, said Greg Wann, PhD candidate in CSU's Graduate Degree Program in Ecology and a member of the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory. Wann and study co-authors, including CSU Associate Professor Cameron Aldridge, analyzed 45 years of reproductive data for two Colorado populations of white-tailed ptarmigan. The team did not track seasonal temperatures, but noted warming at study sites during the spring and summer based on data from Niwot Ridge Long Term Ecological Research.