Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Wyoming
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Wyoming Staff Member

Samantha P Dwinnell

Samantha Dwinnell

Personal website


Like most wildlife researchers, Samantha Dwinnell is an adventurer at heart. After receiving a B.S. in Biology and a B.A. in Environmental Studies from the University of Minnesota – Duluth in 2007, Sam embarked on the expected departure from the flat prairies of the Midwest to the granite slopes of the Rocky Mountains. Her broad interests in wildlife ecology and desire for exploring different systems carried her through seven years of working on a variety of wildlife research projects throughout the Intermountain West. Among her experiences, the most notable in molding her career were those affiliated with the Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit. She began her career with the WY Coop in 2008 as a field technician assisting with research investigating the effects of energy development on songbird communities in western Wyoming. She then segued into another position within the WY Coop where she assisted with research studying the influence of backcountry recreation on habitat selection of bighorn sheep in Grand Teton National Park. Projects like these allowed Sam to develop her research interests in applied ecology while simultaneously satiating her need for adventure.

Research Interest

In 2013, Sam began her thesis research with the WY Coop studying Effects of human disturbance on the nutritional ecology of mule deer. Her research is focused on understanding the nutritional relationships between habitat conditions, behavior, and human disturbance. Sam plans on finishing her MS work in Spring 2016 and will transition into PhD research aimed at Disentangling the effects of predation, nutrition, and habitat on survival of neonatal mule deer.

Research Publications Publication Date
Ortega, Anna et al. Evaluating partial sedation on stress and survival of captured ungulates 2020-07-31
Merkle, J. et al. Spatial memory shapes migration and its benefits: evidence from a large herbivore 2019-11-30
Aikens, E. et al. Drought reshuffles patterns of plant phenology and diminishes the ability of a migratory ungulate to surf the green wave 2020-06-30
Aikens et al. Wave-like patterns of plant phenology determine ungulate movement tactics. 2020-09-30
Aikens E.O., Kauffman M.J., Merkle J.A., Dwinnell S.P.H., Fralick G.L., Monteith K.L. 2017. The greenscape shapes surfing of resource waves in a large migratory herbivore. Ecology Letters 20(6): 741-750. 2017-06-30
Presentations Presentation Date
Aikens EO, Kauffman MJ, Merkle JA, Dwinnell SP, Fralick GL, and Monteith KL. 2017. The greenscape shapes surfing of resource waves in a large migratory herbivore. Gordon Research Conference on the Movement Ecology of Animals, Ventura, CA, March 20th, 2017. 2017-03-20