Opportunities across disciplines
Our curriculum is rigorous and comprehensive--our students emerge from the program as highly competent and skilled graduates.
Room to grow
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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About GDPE

The mission of the Graduate Degree Program in Ecology is to provide the highest quality education in ecology through advanced training in current ecological methods, theories, controversies, applications, and teaching methods by drawing on the great depth and breadth of ecological expertise at Colorado State University and in our local community of scientists. We follow CSU’s Principles of Community in our work, which focus on inclusion, integrity, respect, service, and social justice.

GDPE Ecologists in the News


GDPE student, Matt Sturchio, was interviewed for a recent story in The Colorado Sun on the benefits of agrivoltaic installations. In the article, Matt shares that increased biodiversity and drought resilience is a win for Coloradan landowners. Photovoltaic panels, like those at Jack’s Solar Garden where Matt conducts his research, could also be useful in grasslands and pastures to provide shade for plants and livestock. 

GDPE student, Forest Hayes, and advisor Dr. Joel Berger, have found that climate change may be contributing to increased hostility between different species over limited resources.  For example, the melting of glaciers in Glacier National Park is exposing previously buried salt-licks, which leads to conflict between Mountain Goats and Big-Horn Sheep. They found that goats almost always win. Sorry, Cam!

smith drought project

The GDPE research lab of Dr. Melinda Smith leads a study that combines field experiments and computer modeling to assess how co-occurring droughts and deluges will impact carbon cycling across the vast grasslands of the continental U.S. This project is operating on a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Recent publications from GDPE students and faculty members

Fig2_v14_Anping Chen (1)

Global Change Biology (January 2023)

Negative extreme anomalies in vegetation growth (NEGs) resulting from natural and anthropogenic causes, including climate extremes (CEs), often imply severely impaired ecosystem services. Using satellite-derived vegetation index data and supporting tree-ring chronologies, GDPE faculty Anping Chen and Alan Knapp, with their team, identified NEGs from 1981 to 2015 across the global land, among which 70% were attributable to five types of CEs and their combinations.

Screenshot from 2023-01-20 14-34-50_Peder Engelstad (1)

Ecological Informatics (2023)

Many invasive plant species with predicted habitat suitability are as yet unobserved in land management areas but combining occurrence records with predicted suitability maps can identify invaders ‘at the doorstep’ of management areas. This novel type of list building can be used to help guide Early Detection and Rapid Response efforts.

Check out this recent article from several of our GDPE community members: Peder Engelstad, Ian Pearse, and Helen Sofaer.

Mosquito comparison_Lizzy Rylance (1)

Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences (January 2023)

A recent study by GDPE student Lizzy Rylance and her team suggests that the evolution of species-specific host preferences in mosquitoes may have co-evolved with differences in dopaminergic innervation to the antennal lobe.