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Historian chronicles Montana Renaissance man Morton Elrod

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MISSOULA – Morton J. Elrod became the University of Montana’s first professor of biology in 1897 and founded the Flathead Lake Biological Station a few years later. Now his decades-long career as one of the state’s foremost scientific minds is the subject of a new biography titled “Montana’s Pioneer Naturalist: Morton J. Elrod.”

Released this month by the University of Oklahoma Press, the 280-page biography was written by historian George M. Dennison, who led UM as president from 1990 to 2010.

Elrod was a Renaissance man with diverse interests. He studied Flathead Lake and the Crown of the Continent ecosystem and served as the biological station’s director until 1933. Additionally, Elrod played a role in the creation and promotion of Glacier National Park, was its first naturalist and wrote its first guidebook and scientific papers. He also helped establish the National Bison Range and operated Montana’s first weather station from his home in Missoula.

“Morton Elrod is a really amazing character from our past in Montana, UM and the biological station,” said Tom Bansak, the station’s assistant director. “On campus in Missoula, he also started the Kaimin newspaper and launched UM student government. His productivity and history are just amazing.”

The new book is available from online booksellers, the Bookstore at UM, in many Montana bookstores and directly from the University of Oklahoma Press.

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