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.