Spring Quarter 2018

ESRM 459 - 3 credits: Field trip: 17-24 March 2018


pre- and post-trip discussion, skill building, and research experience (an optional 2 credits in ESRM 490 can be taken)




John Marzluff                                L. Monika Moskal                          Aaron Wirsing                            

123E Anderson                           334 Bloedel                                   101 Winkenwerder

corvid@uw.edu                           lmmoskal@uw.edu                      wirsinga@uw.edu         


Readings and Web Site

Introductions to the issues currently defining the Yellowstone Ecosystem as studied by previous ESC 459 classes are available at: http://www.cfr.washington.edu/classes.esrm.459/yellowstone/


There are two required text books. Read them prior to departing on the trip and bring a copy with you:


·      Dog Days, Raven Nights by John and Colleen Marzluff

·      Wolfer, Carter Niemeyer


You May also want to read:


Two resources concerning geospatial analyses also require your attention



General reviews of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem can be found in:

·      T. W. Clark, M. B. Rutherford, and D. Casey (editors). 2005. Coexisting with Large Carnivores—Lessons from Greater Yellowstone. Island Press.


Theme Song

Will the Wolf Survive?—Los Lobos---get it for your mp3 player.



This course will provide an opportunity to examine and analyze wildlife conservation issues in Yellowstone National Park.  Management of Yellowstone’s natural resources generates significant controversy because diverse and powerful stakeholders recognize that Yellowstone often acts as a conservation “weathervane” for other national parks. As usual we will also do other neat things like catch golden and bald eagles, explore the thermal features of the Mammoth basin, eat pizza in Gardiner, and look for otters, bighorn, pronghorn, and deer.  You will be required to develop an oral presentation as a group on a topic related to the data we gather while in the park.  These group projects will be presented later in Spring quarter.


What You Might See

Our travels bring us up close to a large variety of birds and mammals.  Our full list includes over 80 bird species and nearly 20 mammals.  Highlights are American Crows, Common Ravens, and Gray Jays.  But you will also likely get a look at wolves, elk, and if we’re lucky a grizzly bear.  Download the checklist for your trip.



The course fee will be approximately $500. That includes transportation, lodging (hotels with 2 or 3 of you per room) breakfast, and lunch (and expert guiding!). Dinners are on your own, but pretty cheap in the Gardiner and Bozeman area.



We will purchase food for our breakfasts and lunches, but each person is responsible for planning and obtaining their dinners during the trip while we stay at motels in Bozeman and Gardiner.  We will stop at grocery stores and fast food “restaurants” during travel days. 


What to Bring

Be very prepared for cold, windy, and wet weather.  It is winter in Yellowstone in March, so warm waterproof clothing and boots are a must.  We will be outdoors and away from shelter for most of each day.

You will need snowshoes; options are being communicated through email with students enrolled in the course!


warm clothes (wool, fleece, layers)

duffel or small suitcase (no expedition packs)

camera (optional)

notebook  and animal checklist (linked above)

boots (hiking and snow)

small backpack (daypack), refillable water bottle

GPS (optional, we will have a few for you to use)

personal toiletries

gloves, hat, warm socks, extra socks

Swimsuit, water shoes, and towel if you want to go in hot springs; water shoes for hot springs

compass (optional, we will have a few for you to use)

hand/foot warmers

rain jacket/parka

binoculars (checked out)

sunglasses and sunscreen

cash (~$100)



Course Requirements

Before leaving for Yellowstone:


1. Reading (textbooks and other background reading) prior to the trip.

2. Surfing - go through the entire interdisciplinary web site (linked above)

3. Google Earth exploration of the park (specifically the northern access road from Gardiner to Cook City).


During the field trip:

1.    Each student will have ½ day responsibility of keeping the field trip list of sighted birds and mammals.


Post-field trip meetings and assignment:

We will be available to meet weekly during Spring Quarter so that each of you may organize, work on, and present your project to the class.  Presentations should use computer software (PowerPoint or an html browser) to walk the class through your project (see below).


We will meet in mid May to discuss our research findings.  This will be a formal presentation of your impressions from the trip to the public.  Each student (small teams can work together on a topic of mutual interest as well) will be responsible for investigating some aspect of our research in Yellowstone and MAKING THIS RELEVANT TO CITIZENS OF WASHINGTON.  Each group will develop a 2-4-page factsheet and 20 min oral presentation on their topic.  Details and expectations will be discussed during the field trip.


Tentative Daily Itinerary


Saturday March 17th

Depart Seattle for Bozeman, Montana at 6:00 AM (arrive at 5:45 to load vehicles)

Land Use Patterns – Wildlife Implication

Columbia River Overlook

Silver Valley Idaho

            Arrive in Bozeman at Lewis and Clark Motel, Bozeman, MT (824 W Main St, (406) 586-3341)


Sunday March 18th 

Eagle Trapping with Marco Restani and Eric Johnston

Evening in Bozeman


Monday March 19th 

Meet with ranchers Hanibal Anderson, Malou Anderson, Dre Ramirez, and Hilary Anderson—Tom Miner Basin (1030)

Afternoon safari in park and meet to discuss fire ecology with USFS ecologists

Evening at Best Western Gardiner (800 828-9080)


Tuesday March 20st 

Early morning Safari and cougar research with Connor Meyer

Evening in Gardiner


Wednesday March 21st

Early morning Safari and raven survey project (weather pending)

Carcass necropsy--Ky

Meet with Doug Smith, Leader Yellowstone Wolf Project. Lecture on wildlife issues in Yellowstone National Park


Thursday March 22nd

Early morning Safari

Afternoon hike with bighorn sheep

4:00 Meet with Dr. Rick Wallen, NPS Bison Research Leader, Gardiner, (406) 581 9040, discussion Evening in Gardiner


Friday March 23rd

Drone Demonstration with USGS scientists, Aaron Johnston

Evening in Bozeman at Lewis and Clark Motel, Bozeman, MT (824 W Main St, (406) 586-3341)


Saturday March 24th

Depart Bozeman for Seattle

Discuss paper topics reroute

Evening in Seattle

Pool winner announced for closest ETA