Western US

Dr. Murphy’s research in the Western US emerges from his postdoctoral position in the College of Forestry and Conservation at the University of Montana under the direction of Laurie Yung. With Daniel R. Williams of the Rocky Mountain Research Station (USFS) in Ft. Collins, our research has focused on assessing community vulnerability to climate change and crafting climate change adaptation planning tools that foster the kind of social learning needed to bridge the social and ecological sciences as well as incorporate local communities and their knowledge(s) in the production of various strategies and decisions. Below are descriptions of our work in Montana and Colorado, our funders, and publications as well as possible future avenues of research in the American West.

See also: Community Vulnerability and Adaptive Capacity Project

Big Hole

MONTANA – Scenario-based Methods to Assess Community Vulnerability to Climate Change – Big Hole Valley

Key partners: College of Forestry, University of Montana; Rocky Mountain Research Station (US Forest Service)

Funding: Rocky Mountain Research Station; Montana Institute on Ecosystems (NSF EPSCoR)


COLORADO – Community Vulnerability to Climate Change Project – Grand County

Key partners: College of Forestry, University of Montana: Rocky Mountain Research Station (US Forest Service)

Funding: Rocky Mountain Research Station

Southwest Colorado Socio-Ecological Resilience Project – Gunnison and San Juan Valleys

Key partners: North Central Climate Science Center, Colorado State University, US Geological Survey, Rocky Mountain Research Station (USFS), College of Forestry, University of Montana; The Nature Conservancy; Mountain Studies Institute (Fort Lewis College); Colorado Natural Heritage Program

Funding: Northern Central Climate Science Center (DOI); Rocky Mountain Research Station (USDA FS)


Dr. Murphy plans to return to Montana in the coming years focusing on rural transformations in the Big Hole Valley. In the meantime, he continues to engage in anthropological and social science research on the American West and seeking out collaborations with fellow scholars and communities to address key problems from endangered species conservation to sustainable grazing systems. Students interested in conducting research in the West should contact Dr. Murphy about possible research opportunities and  topics.


Murphy, Daniel, Laurie Yung, Daniel R Williams, and Carina Wyborn. (2017) Rethinking climate change and place through a situated pathways framework: A case study from the Big Hole Valley, USA. Landscape and Urban Planning 167: 441-450.

Murphy, Daniel, Carina Wyborn, Laurie Yung, Cory Cleveland, Lisa Eby, Solomon Dobrowski, and Daniel R. Williams. (2016) “Engaging Communities and Climate Futures with Multi-scaled, Iterative Scenario-Building in the Western US”. Human Organization 75(1): 33-46.

Laurie Yung, Nicky Phear, Alayna Dupont, Daniel Murphy, and Jessica Montag. (2016).”Drought Adaptation and Climate Change Beliefs Amongst Working Ranchers in Montana.” Weather, Climate, and Society

Wyborn, Carina, Laurie Yung, Daniel Murphy, and Daniel R. Williams. (2015) “Situating Adaptation: How Governance Challenges and Perceptions of Uncertainty Influence Adaptation in the Rocky Mountains”. Regional Environmental Change

Murphy, Daniel with Laurie Yung, Carina Wyborn, and Daniel R Williams. (2014) “Key Concepts and Methods in Social Vulnerability and Adaptive Capacity”. US Forest Service General Technical Reports.

Murphy, Daniel, Carina Wyborn, Laurie Yung, and Daniel R. Williams (2014). Future Uncertainty and Climate Skeptics in the American West. Anthropology News. American Anthropology Association; Washington DC.

Paige Fischer, Travis Paveglio, Matt Carrol, Daniel Murphy, and Hannah Brenkert-Smith. (2013) “Assessing social vulnerability to climate change in human communities near public forests and grasslands: a framework for resource managers and planners” Journal of Forestry 111(5): 352-369.

Murphy, Daniel, Jeff Millar, Kelsey Reese, Carina Wyborn, Laurie Yung, and Daniel R. Williams (in prep) “FutureSpeak: Rhetorical Strategies and Organizational Discourse in Scenario-based Climate Change Adaptation Planning”

Murphy, Daniel, Carina Wyborn, and Daniel R. Williams (in prep). “Scenario Practice and the Politics of Co-Production: Building Equity and Reflexivity into Adaptation Planning through the ‘Anthropology of Time’”.

Murphy, Daniel and Daniel Williams (in prep). “Framing the Future through the Past: Commodity Landscapes and Climate Change in Mountain Communities of the US.”