The application period for 2017 was open November 1, 2016 to February 8, 2017.

The 2017 EISI program will take place June 12 to August 17.


Orientation will take place during the week of June 12th and final presentations will take place August 17th. Please contact the EISI Program Manager if you have any questions.

Students will work as a member of a research team on one of the projects described below. In the Letter of Interest required for the EISI application, students should give preference for the projects and explain how you will contribute to and benefit from each project.

Final presentations and papers from 2016 participants

Plant-pollinator networks in a changing forest landscape

Year: 2017

Project mentors: Julia Jones and Rebecca Hutchinson

Scientists have witnessed widespread declines in the European honeybee and accumulated evidence that native pollinators contribute to crop yield. Networks of pollinators and the plants they pollinate exhibit complex interactions that contribute to evolution and dispersal of both the plants and the pollinators. Few locations provide intact, undisturbed pollinator communities that allow us to study these networks of interactions.

Montane meadows of the western Cascade Range of Oregon represent largely undisturbed plant-pollinator networks. These meadows occupy only a small percent of area of the western Cascades, but they contain a very large proportion of the diversity of insects and plants in the landscape. Meadows contain diverse and dynamic networks of hundreds of pollinator species (insects, birds, and other organisms) who visit dozens of flowering plant species during the spectacular, but short-lived flowering period each summer. Ongoing measurements of these pollinator networks provide the opportunity to ask key questions linking ecology, mathematics, and computer science:

  1. How do the size, location, and characteristics of meadows influence the structure of their plant-pollinator networks?
    1. Many pollinator networks have the property of "nestedness" (specialist pollinators interact with generalist plants and specialist plants are pollinated by generalist pollinators). Is "nestedness" a good measure of resilience? How does the nestedness of pollinator networks vary according to meadow size and isolation?
    2. How is the complexity of pollinator networks related to species diversity and the stability and resilience of pollinator networks? Do networks that are larger (more species-rich) have more complexity in their structure? How do networks respond to the loss of a plant or pollinator species?
    3. How does the changing climate (varying amounts of winter snow, precipitation, and temperature) influence plant-pollinator networks?
    4. How do intrinsic properties of meadows (soil moisture, size, etc.) relate to characteristics and stability of the plant-pollinator networks?
    5. How do non-native plant and pollinator species influence plant-pollinator network structure?

  2. How do the properties of modeled plant-pollinator networks compare to observed networks?
    1. How imperfect are our observed networks? Site occupancy modeling provides a way of accounting for errors in field observations. Can we adapt site occupancy models to plant-pollinator data to learn about detectability of plants, pollinators, and their interactions?
    2. We can model a hypothetical "true" plant-pollinator network with specific mathematical properties of theoretical networks and compare the modeled network to observed networks.
    3. We can represent the plant-pollinator network as a system of preferences (of plants for pollinators or vice-versa), and model the network using computational tools similar to those used to recommend movies on Netflix.

Students sample plants and pollinators in montane meadows of the HJ Andrews Experimental Forest.

Students sample plants and pollinators in montane meadows of the HJ Andrews Experimental Forest.

Hummingbirds are frequent pollinators of columbine in montane meadows         Butterflies and moths also are important flower visitors.

Hummingbirds are frequent pollinators of columbine in montane meadows (Source).
Butterflies and moths also are important flower visitors.

Many species of bees and flies pollinate commonly occurring flowers.

Many species of bees and flies pollinate commonly occurring flowers.

Sediment movement across river networks following disturbances

Year: 2017

Project mentors: Desirée Tullos (Biological and Ecological Engineering), Catalina Segura (Forest Engineering, Resources & Management), and Cara Walter (Biological and Ecological Engineering)

Sediment is moved across river networks via a set of geomorphic processes that establish the shape of river channels and the texture of their beds. Among those processes, disturbances (e.g., debris flows, dams) can produce deviations from the expected channel shape and texture. In this study, we will investigate how channel slope and bed texture change moving down a river network, comparing those observations to expected slope and texture from network models, and characterizing the spatial signature of disturbances. Such an investigation will provide insight into fundamental river science questions, such as: What is the broad rate of fining of bed sediments across river networks of varying geometry? What is the geomorphic signature of old vs. new debris flows, in terms of discontinuities in grain size distributions and channel gradient, and how does that signature decay over time? Similarly, what is the size of the geomorphic impact of large woody debris jams at different locations in the network?

The project will involve many days of field work in the creeks and rivers at HJ Andrews. Students will sample bed material and channel gradient at many locations, as well as analysis using remotely-sensed data, and compare those observations to expected values from theoretical network models. The outcome will be to identify locations and scenarios where observations are not explained by theoretical models to develop hypotheses about the impacts of disturbances at different locations within the river network.

 Log jam in Fall Creek   Surveying with a total station