Chris Ray

Chris Ray

Research Associate, Niwot LTER


Contact Information

(Office) 303 489-8863


Chris Ray studies and models the dynamics of plant and animal populations, focusing especially on threatened species with fragmented populations. Recent projects include hierarchical modeling of point count data on birds in western national parks, analyzing the role of metacommunity dynamics in the assembly of vernal pool plant communities, and modeling the spatial and temporal dynamics of plague in prairie ecosystems. Her long-term project involves research on the American pika, aimed at understanding climatic influences on pre-historic and recent local extinctions of this species throughout western North America.




Smith, A. B., et al., including, Chris Ray 2019: Alternatives to genetic affinity as a context for within-species response to climate. Nature Climate Change, 9: 787-794. DOI: 10.1038/s41558-019-0584-8

Chris Ray, Cluck, D. R., Wilkerson, R. L., Siegel, R. B., White, A. M., Tarbill, G. L., Sawyer, S. C., Howell, C. A. 2019: Patterns of woodboring beetle activity following fires and bark beetle outbreaks in montane forests of California, USA. Fire Ecology, 15. DOI: 10.1186/s42408-019-0040-1

Vardaro, J. A. C., Epps, C. W., Frable, B. W., Chris Ray 2018: Identification of a contact zone and hybridization for two subspecies of the American pika (Ochotona princeps) within a single protected area. PLoS ONE, 13(7): article e0199032. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0199032

Waterhouse, M. D., Sjodin, B., Chris Ray, Erb, L., Wilkening, J., Russello, M. A. 2017: Individual-based analysis of hair corticosterone reveals factors influencing chronic stress in the American pika. Ecology and Evolution, 7(12): 4099-4108. DOI: 10.1002/ece3.3009

Foley, P., Roth, T., Foley, J., Chris Ray 2017: Rodent-pika parasite spillover in western North America. Journal of Medical Entomology, 54(5): 1251-1257. DOI: 10.1093/jme/tjx085

Wilkening, J. L., Chris Ray 2016: Characterizing predictors of survival in the American pika (Ochotona princeps). Journal of Mammalogy, 97(5): 1366-1375. DOI: 10.1093/jmammal/gyw097

Chris Ray, Beever, E. A., Rodhouse, T. J. 2016: Distribution of a climate-sensitive species at an interior range margin. Ecosphere, 7(6): article e01379. DOI: 10.1002/ecs2.1379

Schwalm, D., Epps, C. W., Rodhouse, T. J., Monahan, W. B., Castillo, J. A., Chris Ray, Jeffress, M. R. 2016: Habitat availability and gene flow influence diverging local population trajectories under scenarios of climate change: A place-based approach. Global Change Biology, 22(4): 1572-1584. DOI: 10.1111/gcb.13189

Castillo, J. A., Epps, C. W., Jeffress, M. R., Chris Ray, Rodhouse, T. J., Schwalm, D. 2016: Replicated landscape genetic and network analyses reveal wide variation in functional connectivity for American pikas. Ecological Applications, 26(6): 1660-1676. DOI: 10.1890/15-1452.1

All publications by Chris Ray >



Current Courses

  • EBIO 3990: Introduction to EBIO Honors Course for undergraduates in independent studies moving toward the goal of graduating with Honors in EBIO. Projects focus on collection and analysis of data on the ecology of a microhabitat specialist, the American pika, including field studies and a literature review complimented by statistical analyses.


Outreach Statement

Citizen science

I am involved in two citizen science projects observing pika in Colorado:

The Front Range Pika Project is a citizen science effort in conservation research on the American pika. You can find more information about the project on the CU Outreach & Engagement web site, or watch the video "Pika in a Changing Climate."

PikaNet monitors pikas in the San Juan Mountains through citizen involvement.

Field courses for local nonprofits

I teach courses to benefit local conservation efforts. Examples include courses for the Rocky Mountain Conservancy, the Boulder County Nature Association, and Rocky Mountain Wild.

Outreach Activities