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DBS News and Events

  • Spring 2014 OBE Noon Seminar Series

    “Cheatgrass invasion in the Great Basin: a test of the enemy release hypothesis”

    Jacob Lucero
    University of Montana

    Wednesday, April 16th, 2014
    12:10 PM
    ISB (Interdisciplinary Sciences Building) 110

  • Spring 2014 OBE Ecology & Evolution Seminar

    “Complex variation in simple machines: sexual selection on function in crab claws and beetle mandibles.”

    Brook Swanson
    Gonzaga University

    Wednesday, April 16th, 2014
    4:10 PM
    ISB (Interdisciplinary Sciences Building) 110

  • Spring 2014 CMMB Seminar Series

    “Promiscuity, Serendipity and Metabolic Innovation”

    Shelley Copley
    The University of Colorado

    Monday, April 21st, 2014
    12:10 PM
    ISB (Interdisciplinary Sciences Building) 110

  • Joel Berger named Finalist for 2014 Indianapolis Prize

    DBS Professor Joel Berger in Kotezbue, Alaska.

    DBS Wildlife Conservation Professor and John J. Craighead Chair Joel Berger has been named a finalist for the 2014 Indianapolis Prize, the world’s leading award for animal conservation.
    “Joel and the other finalists are among the most important wildlife conservationists working in the field today,” said Michael Crowther, president and CEO of the Indianapolis Zoo, which initiated the Indianapolis Prize as part of its core mission. “They are achieving real victories in saving animal species, creating hope and outlining a path for generations of conservationists around the world to follow.”

    The winner of the Indianapolis Prize will receive an unrestricted $250,000 cash award and the Lilly Medal, an original work of art that signifies the winner's contributions to conserving some of the world’s most threatened animals. The remaining five finalists each will receive $10,000. The winner will be announced mid-2014 and honored at the Indianapolis Prize Gala in September in Indianapolis.

    More details here -

  • DBS Professor Erick Greene holding a young brown and white Osprey.

    Erick Greene awarded Tom Boone Town and Gown Award

    Faculty award! Professor Erick Greene was awarded the Tom Boone Town and Gown Award by the University of Montana Foundation. This award recognizes faculty members who exemplify great communication and contributions to their community.  Erick, shown here with an Osprey chick, has a long tradition of studying questions that combine interesting basic science with important implications to local ecosystems.  His work on heavy-metal contamination of Osprey eggs has found locally-high levels of mercury with impacts on egg and chick survival. Erick has also done a lot of research on animal communication, and this has led to close collaborations with the Montana Natural History Center, SpectrUM, , helping put on a new Chickadee Symphony by composer Craig Naylor, and participation in Camp Eureka camp for blind children.   If you want a sampling of Professor Greene’s contributions to the local community, search The Missoulian ( using ‘Erick Greene’.

  • Erick Greene - Montana Outdoors Magazine

    Professor Erick Greene’s research on alarm calls in birds and mammals was recently featured in the magazine Montana Outdoors.  Please check it out!


  • Cover of Cell Magazine Volume 153 Number 7 Featuring picture of The mealybug Planococcus citri, host to two bacterial endosymbionts with extremely tiny genomes. These symbionts, Tremblaya and Moranella, live exclusively in specialized insect cells.

    John McCutcheon - Cell Magazine

    The work of John McCutcheon and collaborators is on the cover of the prestigious journal Cell.  Their article "Horizontal Gene Transfer from Diverse Bacteria to an Insect Genome Enables a Tripartite Nested Mealybug Symbiosis"  tells the fascinating story of how a bacterium living in a host mealybug has evolved to shed many  genes and so arrive at one of the smallest genomes among all organisms.  Detailed study of the host mealybug also shows that the insect genome has acquired at least 22 genes from other kinds of bacteria through a process called horizontal gene transfer.  This work uncovers some of the mechanisms used by bacteria and their animal hosts which enable these incredibly interdependent and integrated interactions.

  • Mammals of Montana Cover

    Mammals of Montana

    Kerry Foresman's newly published book, Mammals of Montana, has been recognized as a 2012 Montana Book Award Honor Book. Past Winners have included Nathaniel Philbrick, Deidre McNamer, and David Quammen. The Mammals of Montana has been adopted and purchased by all wildlife agencies in the state (USFWS,FS,MFWP,BLM) for their biologists as well as K-12 schools across the state.

  • Mike Chessin - Peacemaker

    Mike Chessin, retired professor of DBS with a specialty in plant physiology, is 2013’s Peacemaker award from the Jeannette Rankin Peace Center. Dr. Chessin’s academic contributions are many; including important work on plant alarm signals made in response to attack, but this award is given for his many contributions of time, effort, and leadership for peace. These include protests and writings against nuclear weapons and for protection of the environment. Dr. Chessin still visits the department for seminars and just to say hello. Please join us in congratulating Mike for this singular recognition of a lifetime of good works.

  • Erin McCullough

    Erin McCullough, current DBS graduate student working with Professor Doug Emlen, has recently had her work cited in two prestigious news outlets. The British Broadcasting Service’ Nature News featured her work on March 13, 2013, focusing on her unexpected result that the extravagant horns of at least one species of rhinoceros beetle (see Emlen’s Science cover elsewhere in the DBS news) do not appear to have important energetic costs – they do not slow down flight and increase drag by only a few percent. The American Scientist March-April 2013 issue describes Erin’s work in the ‘Science Observer’ feature, highlighting her novel result that the cost of having ‘too large’ a horn may be its vulnerability to being broken. Thus, mechanical constraints, rather than energetic ones, may limit how large sexually-selected weapons can become.

  • Genetics and Evolution

    The Montana University System Board of Regents approved the addition of a new option in biology: Genetics and Evolution. The approval of this option reflects a decade-long effort to increase the strength of DBS in evolutionary science, including the hires of six faculty members specializing in evolutionary genetics. The G&E option integrates two new courses: 1) General Genetics, providing a synthesis of mechanisms of genetic change from the molecular level on up, and 2) Genomics, an introduction to the study of how evolution shapes the entire set of interacting genes that ultimately determine an individual’s form and function.

  • Nora Carlson

    Where are they now (2013)

    Nora Carlson (right) finished her undergraduate studies at UM in December 2012, completing an Honors Thesis with Erick Greene, entitled “How Red-breasted Nuthatches Communicate about Danger.” She has just been admitted into the PhD graduate program at St. Andrew’s University in Scotland, which has one of the strongest programs in the world in bioacoustics and behavioral ecology. Congratulations Nora!

    Beth Roskilly, a biology graduate of UM in 2011, has received a Fulbright award to conduct research in Chile.

    Eric Keeling, recent PhD graduate from Ecology and Organismal Biology, has started a tenure-track position at the State University of New York at New Paltz.

Graphics, Design, and Layout by Spectral Fusion Designs, 2013.