Welcome to the Collinge Lab at CU-Boulder!

Our research centers on the ecological consequences of human-induced changes to natural systems. We study the impacts of habitat loss, fragmentation, and restoration on the persistence of native species, communities, and ecosystems. These days, our primary research activities focus on a long-term, large-scale restoration experiment in California, which is devoted to integrating ecological theory with vernal pool ecosystem restoration. Check out Vernal Pools under research to learn more!

Students and research associates in the Collinge lab are engaged in a diverse set of research projects, all united by the theme of understanding human impacts to native ecosystems. Current projects investigate the role of leaf litter accumulation and seed bank for vernal pool plant community dynamics; the impacts of climate change for pika distribution, behavior and physiology; the ecological and social impacts of past, current and future land use decisions in the western Great Plains; and needs for scientific information by decision-makers in mountain communities throughout Colorado. Collectively, our research is particularly relevant to the interface between environmental science and policy regarding ecological processes and human activities.

Prospective Students

Successfully defended!

November 18, 2014

Congratulations to Nifer Wilkening for defending her PhD dissertation and to Chris Javornik for defending his masters thesis! Nice work!

Karen wins best presenation award!

September 4, 2014

Congratulations to Karen Schlatter for winning the award for best Master’s/Bachelor’s student presentation at the 2014 restoration conference in New Orleans: CEER (Conference on Ecological and Ecosystem Restoration)!

April 2014 field work

May 6, 2014

20140426_091510 Although it was a dry winter out in California there was enough rain to fill up the pools (at least for some of the time) and we had a good showing of vernal pool flora out at our site.   Now, after completing various field related experiments we are  back in Colorado entering our findings and getting ready to analyze the data!

Winter drought

February 22, 2014

With California experiencing a strong winter drought we were happy to see some of the pools fill up with the last big rain event in the beginning of Februrary.2 51 Here is hoping for more rain!

September 25, 2013

The Collinge lab welcomes our newest member Karen Schlatter!  Karen is starting a MA in ENVS and will be working on the vernal pool project.

Exciting lab news!

July 15, 2013

Big things are happening in the Collinge lab!  Mari Elise Ewing will be starting an assistant professor position at Austin College in Sherman Texas in August and Nifer Wilkening will be heading to India on a Fulbright Fellowship to study pikas in the Himalayas. Congrats to you both!

December 2012 Travis visit

January 29, 2013

With the early rains that are hitting California this year it is  shaping up to be a good year for the vernal pool natives.  After only a few blustery days we have recently completed a successful field trip to Travis and now we wait for the spring blooms!


Ecological Society of America

September 4, 2012

After a busy summer our lab came together for the 97th annual Ecological Society of America conference in Portland Oregon.  Sharon Collinge presented her and Chris Ray’s recent work on habitat quality versus connectivity in an endemic  vernal pool species.  Akasha Faist explained how invasive species are altering vernal pool soil properties.  Jennifer Wilkening presented a portion of her dissertation on how  fecal samples can be used to understand physiological stress on the American pika. While  Mari Elise Ewing focused on the more social concept of how decision making can alter  land use patterns in the Great Basin.  All in all it was a great success and we look forward to next year!

April vernal pool visit

April 16, 2012

After a dry winter out at the field site,  recent April showers have filled the pools to their highest point of the season. This photo shows a subset of the native flowers that are just above the inundation line while some have been completely submerged.  We will be returning to the site in a couple of weeks  to conduct vegetation surveys and to see the impact these late rains had on the vernal pools.


Winter at the vernal pools

January 11, 2012

Germination is in full swing at the California vernal pool field site!  Many of the native annuals are in their tiny germinant stage hunkering down for a wet winter to engulf their pools.   The most recent visit to the site was a success with all pools flagged, germinants counted and litter depths manipulated.  Now we all have our finger crossed that the skies will soon open up bringing more snow to the mountains and rain in the valley.