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

Wyoming Staff Member

Ellen Aikens

Ellen Aikens

Personal website


Ellen is currently working on her PhD through the Program in Ecology at the University of Wyoming.

Research Interest

Her graduate research focuses on mule deer migration. Through her research, Ellen hopes to connect patterns of plant phenology to mule deer movement behavior, body condition, reproductive success and demography. Additionally, she will investigate how changing climatic conditions may affect migratory mule deer in the future. Before coming to Wyoming, Ellen worked at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute’s GIS lab, where she analyzed remote sensing and GPS telemetry data for conservation research projects across the globe. Ellen is a recipient of the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and the Berry Fellowship. Ellen earned her bachelor’s degree in Biology and Environmental Studies from Ursinus College.

Research Publications Publication Date
Ortega, Anna et al. Evaluating partial sedation on stress and survival of captured ungulates July 2020
Merkle, JA and 9 others. Do large herbivores surf waves of green-up in spring? December 2016
Jesmer, Brett and others. Ungulate migration is a cultural phenomenon. October 2018
Aikens, E. et al. Drought reshuffles patterns of plant phenology and diminishes the ability of a migratory ungulate to surf the green wave June 2020
Aikens et al. Wave-like patterns of plant phenology determine ungulate movement tactics. September 2020
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. June 2017
Project Completion Date
Phenology Tracking in Migratory Mule Deer December 2018
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. March 2017