Systems Ecology Graduate Program

For information on working with FLBS faculty through the UM Systems Ecology Graduate Program, visit the
FLBS Graduate Opportunities

Members of the FLBS faculty supervise graduate students in the Systems Ecology Graduate Program of the Division of Biological Sciences at the University of Montana.

This trans-disciplinary program broadly trains ecologists to be effective interveners in social and environmental issues through systems analysis of the complex and interactive processes that drive use and sustainability of ecosystem services, including clean air and water, healthful food and shelter and the many amenities of the mountain landscapes in the Crown of the Continent area of Montana and beyond.

What is Systems Ecology?

Ecosystems (lakes, rivers, floodplains, forests, grasslands, agro-ecosystems, urban, exurban and rural communities) are the interconnected units of regional landscapes, each with inherent natural and cultural complexity. Systems ecologists are interested in quantifying dynamic biophysical processes that transform landscapes in time and space and thereby drive the distribution and abundance of energy, materials, and biota.

Systems ecology emphasizes that sustaining natural services (water, food, fiber, amenities) provided by landscapes, ecosystems, and genetically-distinct populations is critical to human well-being. Natural-cultural interactions are dynamic and complex, requiring advanced computational models to sort out the consequences of environmental and social changes that are inevitably associated with human activities at local to global scales of resolution.

Why is systems ecology important?

Loss of interconnected landscapes, ecosystems, and biodiversity is increasing at an alarming rate and threatens the economy, culture, and well-being of humans world wide. Understanding and curbing the causes and consequences of these losses is extremely complicated and requires interdisciplinary research, education, and systems thinking among stakeholders and society.

Systems ecology is important because it provides the tools that are increasingly urgently needed to maintain landscapes and ecosystem integrity, and to ensure sustainability of ecosystem services and the socio-economic security of local, regional, and global communities.

Systems Ecology Graduate Program
Students Sampling a Stream in Glacier National Park