|Friday, April 12th|
Andrew Hursh, University of Montana - Missoula
1:40 PM - 2:00 PM
Wilderness designtation is a historically vague management directive. Some of our longest-standing Wilderness areas, such as the subject of this study, the Selway-Bitterroot, have seen no formal characterization of what specifically is meant by the term and what sort of management it requires. Only recently has the prevailing attitude towards Wilderness focused on active, dynamic management over hands-off or unstructured decision-making. How do we define “Wilderness character,” what the 1964 Wilderness Act calls us to protect? This study formalized some of the physical, biological, structural, and human components that characterize Wilderness and established protocol for future monitoring. The information gathered in this research should educate future Wilderness management decisions and clarify our knowledge of the resource and its components.
The research for this project was done within a formal assessment process developed through the Aldo Leopold Research Institute. Measurable features of Wilderness Character were chosen specific to the Selway-Bitterroot based on guiding language in Wilderness legislation. Aspects of the historical development, human use, natural and biological features, and remoteness of the area were strictly defined and recorded such that they could be monitored in the future. We collected baseline data on several dozen measures of Wilderness Character, such as fire management actions, genetic purity of Westslope Cutthroat Trout, air pollution and outfitter permitting. Though the Selway-Bitterroot was designated over 40 years ago, we used data from 2011 where possible to represent a baseline for monitoring.
This presentation will outline the challenges of defining and monitoring Wilderness Character, describe some of the striking features of the Selway-Bitterroot, and place the lessons of this research into the greater context of land management issues generally. Wilderness research is valuable for both our understanding of non-human dynamics of wild lands and for the improvement of the human systems by which we protect them.
Zoe Glas, University of Montana - Missoula
2:00 PM - 2:20 PM
As climate continues to change it is imperative that we understand what effects increased temperatures will have on biotic organisms. Mountain plovers provide an excellent case study to begin this process. In the summer of 2012 I studied the nesting habits of Mountain Plovers in Karval, Colorado. Mountain plovers are a species of concern under the Endangered Species Act as their populations have continually declined in the last 50 years. The birds nest on the open plains, subjecting themselves and their eggs to high heat stress.
My research focused on how ambient temperatures affect plover nesting behavior. Many nests fail each year; in part because the eggs overheat when the adult is not shading the nest. Climate change will impose increased temperature pressures, forcing the adults to adapt their behavior to cope or their nests will perish entirely.
I used game cameras to monitor the nest attendance habits of mountain plovers. Off bout duration (the amount of time spent off of the nest at a time) and frequency were analyzed to provide insight into how mountain plover nesting behaviors change relative to ambient temperatures. In addition, I analyzed 50 years of climate data in order to determine how temperatures have changed in plover habitat, and what temperature patterns are likely to occur in the future. My research approach integrates behavioral and climate data in order to provide a predictive framework for future plover nesting success.
Taylor Hopkins, University of Montana - Missoula
2:20 PM - 2:40 PM
Two western larch forests were studied to compare the effects of a wildfire and a restoration project (mechanical thinning and prescribed burn) to contrast forest characteristics pre- and post-disturbance at both sites. The sites chosen for this study were the Girard Grove of the Swan Ranger District near Seeley Lake, Montana, where a restoration project occurred in 2003 for the purpose of mimicking a historical mixed-severity fire regime; and the river valley of the South Fork of the Flathead, in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, where a mixed-severity wildfire occurred in 2003. Using a laser measuring device we were able to catalogue the graphical (X,Y) location of every tree and snag on a one-hectare plot at each site, for extrapolating forest spatial patterns before and after the two disturbances. A study to assess ecologically significant spatial patterns in western larch forests has never been done, especially a comparison between pre- and post-disturbance sites. We also gathered the diameter at breast height, tree type, and vitality of each tree. Then, using three 100 meter transects, we collected data on down woody debris (DWD) size, species, and decay. Using the same transects, we formed circle plots documenting sapling regeneration numbers and vitality based on height. These results show that the Restoration site did not ecologically share valuable characteristics possessed by the Wildfire site. The Restoration site possessed fewer saplings by a factor of four, with sapling growth being one of the major objectives of the project. Though soil ground cover data was not collected, we hypothesize that the Wildfire site displayed greater sapling numbers and vitality due to the severity of the burn creating bare mineral soil, valuable to larch sapling regeneration. Analysis of forest spatial patterns has revealed that the restoration project was weak compared to the Wildfire site and management goals.
Harper Kaufman, University of Montana - Missoula
2:40 PM - 3:00 PM
Increased temperatures, species extinctions, ocean acidification, melting sea ice, rising sea levels, and extreme weather events all point to the climate emergency that is quickly gaining speed on our planet. As life on earth becomes witness to a changing climate caused by the misuse and abuse of natural resources by humans, our generation faces perhaps the toughest battle nature has waged with humankind. This century must be a time of transformation and reform if we hope for our species (and many others) to continue to live on this planet. We must transform our energy consumption, our resource extraction, our polluting habits, but most of all our relationship with the land as a human race. The Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh wrote: “If we continue abusing the earth this way, there is no doubt that our civilization will be destroyed. This will require enlightenment, awakening. The Buddha attained individual awakening. Now we need a collective enlightenment to stop this course of destruction.” This Buddhist author and teacher offers an understanding of Buddhist precepts and philosophies that allow for a holistic and integrated perspective on humanity’s place in the world. My paper proposes that certain Buddhist concepts can help foster a healthier and more sustainable human relationship with the natural environment. Using writings from Buddhist scholars Thich Nhat Hanh and Sulak Sivaraksa, I hope to prove the relevance of Buddhism, and religion in general, as a crucial contributor to the fight against climate change and the call for humanity’s response to the ecological crisis. I have composed three paintings as a means to supplement the academic paper in order to communicate these Buddhist concepts to a wider audience. Each piece attempts to embody an ecologically aware Buddhist concept that may help us to realize our place an interdependent, and cooperative world.
Elise (Ellie) Fitzpatrick, University of Montana - Missoula
3:00 PM - 3:20 PM
Recent geochronologic and metamorphic data from the Freezeout Ridge area, northern Idaho, reevaluate stratigraphic relationships and further define conditions of metamorphism in the western portion of the Clearwater metamorphic core complex (CMCC). The Freezeout Ridge area was previously mapped by Hietanen  as metasedimentary rocks of the Mesoproterozoic Belt Supergroup (~1.45 Ga); however, these metasediments are now recognized as exposures of basement rocks upon which the Belt Supergroup was deposited. U/Th-Pb monazite and xenotime geochronological data collected by laser ablation split stream (LASS) dating records ages as old as 1.5 Ga in the Freezeout Ridge schist (FRS). These ages predate the deposition of the Belt Supergroup, suggesting the protoliths of the FRS are supracrustal basement rocks. Doughty et al.  concluded peak metamorphic conditions to be Cretaceous (82-80 Ma and 72-70 Ma) in the external zone of the CMCC. This study will further constrain peak metamorphic conditions in the Freezeout Ridge area through scanning electron microscopy/energy dispersive X-ray spectrometry (SEM/EDS) and thermobarometry. SEM/EDS will analyze the equilibria between different minerals in two samples of garnet-bearing amphibolite and mineral chemistry will be used to calculate the P-T conditions of metamorphism. If the peak metamorphic conditions in the Freezeout Ridge amphibolite samples match the conditions of other localities, the resulting metamorphic events that affected those rocks are assumed to be correlative. Interpreting age data collected from LASS petrochronology and analyzing conditions of metamorphism through SEM/EDS and thermobarometry in the Freezeout Ridge rocks will allow for a better understanding of the geologic processes within core complexes, which are a vital part of the geologic history of northern Idaho.
Lauren Morey, University of Montana - Missoula
3:20 PM - 3:40 PM
With the modern proliferation of real-world networks, the almost quarter-millenium-old subject of graph theory has become increasingly important. A graph consists simply of a set of vertices and a set of edges, with every edge connecting two vertices. A perfect matching M in a graph G is a collection of pairwise disjoint edges of G with the property that each vertex of G is an end of an edge in M. The theory of matchings recently entered the limelight when the 2012 Nobel Prize in Economics was awarded to two pioneers of the subject (Alvin Roth and Lloyd Shapley). This talk will examine the question of how many perfect matchings a graph may contain. In [Combinatorica 1 (1981), 257--262], Godsil answered this question using an integral counting formula, and he proved it using an induction argument. Emerson and Kayll [Contributions to Discrete Mathematics 4 (2009), 89--93] mentioned the possibility of a different, more enlightening proof of Godsil's result, but they provided no details. Here I will present those details. The audience may appreciate the interplay between continuous and discrete mathematics.
Michael Campbell, University of Montana - Missoula
3:40 PM - 4:00 PM
The focus of this project is to improve the efficacy of Anthracenyl isoxazolyl amides (AIMs) by adding axial chirality via strategic halogenation. AIMs are a new class of antitumor agents specially synthesized to bind and interact with G-quadruplex (G4) DNA; binding G4 DNA has been shown to repress the replication of oncogenes in cancerous tumors. By using asymmetric halogenation to introduce axial chirality into the AIMs, our goal is to create a molecule that is divided by a bond, or axis, that cannot freely rotate due to steric hindrance. Many biologically active molecules are chiral and the stereoisomers often display a significant difference in activity due to interactions with chiral targets, such as DNA. Our efforts are currently centered on over halogenating the anthracene followed by selective cleavage. Over halogenation of unsubstituted anthracenes in synthetically significant yields has been published by Cakmak. However, with the added complexity of the substituted anthracene used as a starting material in the production of the AIMs, the addition of halogens has become quite a challenge. We have successfully isolated a 2,3,4,5,10-pentabromo-anthracenyl-nitrile oxide. The original methods by which we synthesized this compound proved to be inefficient and require optimization. The methods that we are investigating require consideration of the mechanism of the reactions, and catalysts can change the course of the respective reactions, in which ionic and radical intermediates are expected to predominate. The future focus will then shift to optimization of the cycloaddition and methods of selective cleavage. The benefit of stereospecific activity is that a patient may be able to take less of the chemotherapeutic agent and achieve equally beneficial results with fewer side effects. Our progress will be described.