FROM THE VICE PRESIDENT
UNLOCKING THE SECRETS OF FLIGHT
ONE HOWL OF A GOOD IDEA
HARE TODAY, GONE TOMORROW?
CRACKING A MYSTERY
Cover: While studying how chukar partridges grow and develop the ability to fly, UM researcher Ken Dial developed an original theory for the evolution of flight.
Vision is published annually by The University of Montana Office of the Vice President for Research and Development and University Relations. It is printed by UM Printing & Graphic Services.
PUBLISHER: Daniel J. Dwyer. MANAGING EDITOR AND GRAPHIC DESIGNER: Cary Shimek. PHOTOGRAPHER: Todd Goodrich. CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Jacob Baynham, Brianne Burrowes, Brenda Day, Judy Fredenberg, Rita Munzenrider, Dan Pletscher, Jennifer Sauer and Ashley Zuelke. WEB DESIGN: Cary Shimek. EDITORIAL OFFICE: University Relations, Brantly Hall 330, Missoula, MT 59812, 406-243-5914. MANAGEMENT: Judy Fredenberg, Office of the Vice President for Research and Development, 116 Main Hall, Missoula, MT 59812, 406-243-6670.
|Message From the Vice President
I’m fortunate to live in Western Montana. After a day in the office, I can disappear up a wooded drainage, wade into clear waters, cast my line and let the workaday world fade for a bit. I’m convinced that fly-fishing in fresh, pine-scented air focuses the mind and cures the soul.
Though only minutes from campus, I often see wildlife — deer, chipmunks, osprey, trout. I’m constantly amazed that I work at a university placed in the middle of a vast, largely intact ecosystem. Ours is the only place in the lower 48 where all the native mammal species noted by Lewis and Clark more than two centuries ago still roam.
It’s been said so often it’s almost a cliché, but The University of Montana and our world-class researchers are surrounded by a wonderful natural laboratory. Discovery is just out the back door.
One of my fishing partners, Dan Pletscher, director of UM’s Wildlife Biology Program, puts it this way: “Other places read about it. We live in the middle of it.”
UM has become a world leader for its research and educational programs in ornithology, wildlife and wilderness management. It hosts some of the nation’s finest biological sciences, forestry and wildlife biology programs, including the Avian Science Center, Avian Flight Lab and Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit — the latter of which was led for 25 years by John J. Craighead, a giant of the conservation movement who, along with his twin brother, Frank, pioneered grizzly bear research.
Short drives from campus, the University boasts treasures such as the Flathead Lake Biological Station and Lubrecht Experimental Forest. Even Mount Sentinel — the campus-owned mountain that serves as UM’s spectacular backdrop — is studied for its role as an urban interface and battlefield for native and invasive plants.
So it is my privilege to offer this issue of Vision with a wildlife research theme. The eight stories herein offer a small but important slice of the excellent work being accomplished by our scores of campus scientists who study the varied creatures of our natural world.
The subjects in this issue vary from a new stationary instrument used to study the ranges of wolves to the fact that earlier springtime melts are leaving winter-white snowshoe hares revealed to predators. We had to include a story about the troubles facing trout, of course, as well as one about two researchers who in the same year received Early Career Development Program grants from the National Science Foundation — an unprecedented accomplishment at UM.
Though we love our backyard, University wildlife research makes an impact worldwide. One story examines a scientist studying caribou habitat in the Canadian Rockies, while another follows a UM researcher chasing egg-size variation among birds into South American jungles. And the magazine’s cover story describes a new hypothesis for the evolution of birds that is transforming textbooks around the globe.
This University, amidst this natural laboratory, is a special place. We hope you enjoy this glimpse into ideas taking flight from here.
Daniel J. Dwyer