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USU researchers are renowned for their expertise in the conservation and management of low moisture ecosystems. Research strengths include plant productivity and diversity, predator ecology, issues associated with grazing, human-wildlife interactions, and the effects of climate change on arid systems.

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Holly Strand Proposal Development Specialist WILD/Biology/Ecology Center 5230 Old Main Hill, NR 226 Utah State University Logan, UT 84322-5230 office: (435) 797-9246 email:

Peter Adler, Wildland Resources Peter is interested in explaining population and community dynamics in space and time. He and his students study coexistence, patterns of diversity, and plant-animal interactions. Much of their field work is in arid and semiarid ecosystems, but they rely on statistical and simulation modeling techniques that apply to many ecosystems.

Major research questions include:  How will species interactions mediate the impacts of climate change on plant communities?  Does climate variability promote species diversity?  Can leaf functional traits help predict population and community dynamics?  Why have domestic livestock had major impacts on some ecosystems, but only subtle impacts on others?  Do native and domestic grazers create different kinds of habitat?  How do species richness and turnover scale in space and time? Area expertise: North America, Chile and Argentina Languages: English, Spanish Some recent publications: Yenni, G. M., P. B. Adler and S. K. M. Ernest. In press. Strong self-limitation promotes the persistence of rare species. Ecology. Pre-print Adler, P. B., H. J. Dalgleish and S. P. Ellner. 2012. Forecasting plant community impacts of climate variability and change: when do competitive interactions matter? Journal of Ecology 100: 478-487. Link Adler, P. B., E. W. Seabloom, E. T. Borer, and 55 co-authors. 2011. Productivity is a poor predictor of plant species richness. Science 333: 1750-1753. PDF Accompanying perspective piece Adler, P.B., Leiker, J., and J.M. Levine. 2009. Direct and indirect effects of climate change on a prairie plant community. PLoSONE 4: e6887. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0006887 PDF Adler, P.B., and J. HilleRisLambers. 2008. The influence of climate and species composition on the population dynamics of ten prairie forbs. Ecology 89: 3049-3060. PDF

Lab web site:


Johan du Toit , Wildland Resources Research interests are diverse, but du Johan focuses mainly on the ecology of large mammals in terrestrial ecosystems. Particular interests include interactions between species of different body size within trophic guilds, interactions between browsing ungulates and their woody food plants, and differences in behavior, diet, and habitat use between sex and age classes within large mammal species. Together with students and postdocs, Johan has investigated these topics by conducting field studies on indigenous ungulates and large predators in African savannas. An emerging theme of his research and publications is the conservation of terrestrial ecosystems through the fusion of science and management. He is currently extending his research activities to the rangelands of the American West. Area expertise: E and S. Africa, US West Languages: ? Some recent publications: Skarpe, K., du Toit, J.T. & Moe, S.R. (eds.) African Elephants and Savanna Heterogeneity. Wiley Blackwell, Oxford (in preparation, under publishing agreement) du Toit, J.T. 2010. Considerations of scale in biodiversity conservation. Animal Conservation 13:229-236 du Toit, J.T., Kock, R. & Deutsch, J. (eds.) 2010. Wild Rangelands: Conserving Wildlife While Maintaining Livestock in Semi-Arid Ecosystems. Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford (424 pp). Tambling, C.J., Cameron, E.Z., du Toit, J.T. & Getz, W.M. 2010. Methods for locating African lion kills using global positioning system movement data. Journal of Wildlife Management 74(3):549-556 Moe, S.R., Rutina, L.P., Hytteborn, H., & du Toit, J.T. 2009. What controls woodland regeneration after elephants have killed the big trees? Journal of Applied Ecology 46:223-230 Fornara, D.A. & du Toit, J.T. 2008. Community-level interactions between ungulate browsers and woody plants in an African savanna dominated by palatable-spinescent Acacia trees. Journal of Arid Environments 72 :534545

Geno Schupp, Wildland Resources Paragraph needed

Area expertise: Arid West (including Colorado Plateau), Spain.

Languages: Research Tools:

Some Recent Publications Sivy, K.J., S.M. Ostoja, and E.W. Schupp. 2011. Effects of rodent species, seed species, and predator cues on seed fate. Acta Oecologica. doi:10.1016/j.actao.2011.03.004 Schupp, E.W., P. Jordano and J.M. Gómez. 2010. Tansley Review: Seed dispersal effectiveness revisited: a conceptual review. New Phytologist 188: 333‐353. Puerta‐Piñero, C., J.M. Gómez, and E.W. Schupp. 2010. Spatial patterns of acorn dispersal by rodents: does the environment matter? Oikos 119: 179‐187. Ostoja, S.M. and E.W. Schupp. 2009. Conversion of sagebrush shrublands to exotic annual grasslands negatively impacts rodent communities. Diversity and Distributions 15: 863‐870. Humphrey, L.D.‡ and E.W. Schupp. 2002. Seedling survival from local and commercially obtained seeds on two semiarid sites. Restoration Ecology 10: 88–95.

Kari Veblen, Wildland Resources Kari’s research interests span a broad range of topics relevant to the ecology of western US grassland and shrubland ecosystems and African savannas. Specific topics include livestock-wildlife interactions, plant community ecology, plant-herbivore interactions, and restoration ecology. Much of her work has taken place on multi-use landscapes (both public and private) that are managed simultaneously for wildlife conservation and sustainable livestock production. She takes a predominantly experimental approach to studying ecology, and often addresses the ecosystem effects of different livestock management approaches. Area expertise: Great Basin and Mojave Desert, USA, Kenya. Some Recent Publications Porensky, L.M. and K.E. Veblen. 2012. Grasses and browsers reinforce landscape heterogeneity by excluding trees from ecosystem hotspots. Oecologia 168:749-759. Veblen, K.E. 2012. Savanna glade hotspots: plant community development and synergy with large herbivores. Journal of Arid Environments 78:119-127. Veblen, K.E., D.A. Pyke, C.L. Aldridge, M.L. Casazza, T.J. Assal, and M.A. Farinha. 2011. Range-wide assessment of livestock grazing across the sagebrush biome: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2011-1263, 74 p. Augustine, D.J., K.E. Veblen, J.R. Goheen, C. Riginos and T.P. Young. 2011. Pathways for positive cattle-wildlife interactions in semi-arid rangelands. Conserving Wildlife in African Landscapes: Kenya’s Ewaso Ecosystem (Ed. N.J. Georgiadis), pp. 55-71. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology no. 632. Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press. Veblen, K.E. and T.P. Young. 2010. Contrasting effects of cattle and wildlife on the vegetation development of a savanna landscape mosaic. Journal of Ecology 98: 993-1001. Veblen, K.E. 2008. Season- and herbivore dependent competition and facilitation in a semi-arid savanna. Ecology 89: 1532-1540.

Arid Lands Ecology and Conservation