M.E.M. ’07, who has spent six years exploring how ecological changes in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem are affecting the region’s migratory elk herds, has received a $100,000 research prize for his ongoing efforts to monitor and conserve the iconic species.
On Sept. 19, Middleton, a Donnelley Postdoctoral Fellow at the Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies, and wildlife photographer Joe Riis will be presented with the first Camp Monaco Prize
, a scientific prize that supports biodiversity research and outreach in Yellowstone.
The prize money will help support a two-year campaign to document the movements of Yellowstone’s five herds of migratory elk, an animal whose seasonal abundance is the lifeblood of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and that carries economic and cultural importance in the region. But as Middleton’s earlier research has shown
, the animals are also facing a series of ecological changes that could reshape their migrations, from increased populations of their primary predators, wolves and bears, to increasingly dry conditions that have altered the diets of much of Yellowstone’s wildlife.
In addition to publishing their results, Middleton and Riis will utilize a network of camera traps to monitor the health of the herds, produce an online tracking site to display elk migrations in real time, and produce a documentary film. Much of their work will focus on the Cody elk herd, which ranges between the South Fork of the Shoshone River and southeastern Yellowstone National Park.