Plant Ecology + Climate Change REU – CU Boulder

This sound like a cool project!

FW by Andy Wilson

The Doak lab at CU Boulder is recruiting a motivated undergraduate for a summer research internship in alpine plant ecology as part of NSF’s Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program. The student will design and conduct independent research that contributes to a larger NSF-funded project to investigate how demographic variation across geographic ranges determines species range limits and responses to climate change. To answer this question, we have been conducting a long- term, multi-site study of the demography of two widely distributed and well-studied herbaceous perennial tundra plants, moss campion (Silene
acaulis) and bisort (Polygonum viviparum). The REU student can combine short-term experimental or observational field studies with 15+ years of existing demographic data, spanning multiple populations, habitat types, and geographic regions, to ask compelling questions about the ecology or evolution of alpine plants. Examples of excellent questions that REU students could address include: * comparing selection on flowering time or physiological traits among life history stages, subpopulations, or species
* studies of pollination limitation for plants in female or hermaphrodite-dominated subpopulations of the gynodioecious Silene acaulis * genetic diversity and patterns of sexual reproduction within and between populations of the largely clonal Polygonum viviparum * evidence for up or down-slope range expansion of either species in response to climate change
* impacts of plant neighborhood structure on growth and survival * studies of these or other species across local elevational
gradients, to assess changes in form or population structure that would correspond to or arise from demographic shifts.

The REU student will be based at the Mountain Research Station at Niwot Ridge, CO from June 1 to August 7, 2016 (the main flowering and growth season). Staying at the Mountain Research Station will allow the student to engage in rigorous field work at Niwot Ridge, take advantage of long- term demography plots, and interact with other REU students and researchers. In addition, the student will be able to supplement field research at Niwot Ridge with trips to nearby alpine areas and other greenhouse or computer modeling work at CU Boulder. In late July, the student will also participate in the main project by collecting demographic data in long-term plots at Niwot Ridge and New Mexico.
We will provide the REU student with room and board at the Mountain Research Station and a $500/week stipend. We will also provide some support for research expenses, including materials or research-related travel.

The ideal candidate will be interested in pursuing a career in ecology, environmental sciences, or evolutionary biology, and have demonstrated abilities in critical thinking, organization, and working as part of a team. Candidates should have some background in ecology, environmental sciences, or evolution, and the ability and willingness to engage in physically strenuous or uncomfortable activities (e.g. hiking at high elevation, carrying heavy packs, working outdoors under a variety of weather conditions, etc.).

Applications should include: 1) copy of unofficial transcripts, 2) contact information for two academic references, 3) CV, and 4) a one- page description of your academic background and goals, your interest in the REU position, and any previous research experience.

Applications should be sent to Dr. Megan Peterson at with “2016 REU application” in the subject line. Application deadline: March 18


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