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Michael Fleming

Michael Fleming, Studies of the effects of elk on vegetation.

Studies of ecological succession after natural disasters inform our understanding of succession. Insights from studies of plant-animal interactions help to refine succession theories and can be applied to conservation, restoration and natural resource management decisions. Herds of elk inhabit the recovering Mount St. Helens landscape and, like other large herbivores, they alter the successional trajectories of plant communities they occupy. Michael is focusing on the varied effects mediated by elk: the obvious foraging effects, nutrient deposition in urine and feces and dispersal. He seeks to determine how elk alter successional trajectories, soil nitrogen and total N and C in plant tissues in recovering vegetation, and whether elk scat provides safe sites for plant establishment. His research combines detailed field and greenhouse experiments with lab analyses of soil nitrogen and leaf tissue carbon and nitrogen.

Michael has walked the line between science and teaching for years. He received B.A. in Biology from the University of Oregon, a M.S. in Environmental Education from Southern Oregon University and a M.A.T. in Secondary Science Education from Pacific University. In addition to all this schooling, he also gained professional experience as a botanist, a G.I.S. instructor and a high school science/math teacher. All work and no play makes Michael a dull boy, so he still finds time for various distractions including brewing beer, playing guitar and slow-cooking the occasional rack of ribs on his backyard grill.