My principal research interest was the description, classification, and study of environmental relationships of natural vegetation, with special emphases on conservation ecology and biodiversity. This broad interest took many directions, including studies of distributional consequences of plant biochemical differences, plant water relations, and plant mineral nutrition. Much of my work involved use of mathematical/statistical approaches to analysis of community data (numerical classification and gradient analysis). My dissertation research was a comparison of vegetation patterns on limestone and more acidic rocks in the mountains of southeastern Arizona, and I continue to have an interest in contrasts in vegetation found on varied substrates. A large part of my current research effort focused on characterization of vegetation in the mountain and coastal plain regions of North Carolina. I am a co-founder of the Carolina Vegetation Survey, which has as its goal the thorough characterization of the natural vegetation of North and South Carolina using quantitative data on vegetation and environment from a statewide network of permanent plots.
Other research interests include population biology, competitive interactions, and molecular ecology of plants. I worked frequently in the area of applied research and collaborated frequently with faculty in other departments at NC State University, such as Forestry and Horticulture. Through efforts of the Carolina Vegetation Survey, I assisted state and federal agencies interested in restoration of degraded ecosystems. Other applied projects have included development of criteria for the use of vegetation in the designation of wetlands, studies of the effects of commercial logging and site preparation practices on regrowth of natural vegetation, and analysis of the impacts of pine straw raking on natural vegetation in longleaf pine forests.
Ph.D. Plant Ecology Cornell University 1976
B.A. Biological Sciences Dartmouth College 1970
Area(s) of Expertise
Plant Community Ecology
- Abundance of spring- and winter-active arthropods declines with warming , ECOSPHERE (2021)
- The Role of Fire in the Dynamics of Piedmont Vegetation , FIRE ECOLOGY AND MANAGEMENT PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE OF US FORESTED ECOSYSTEMS (2021)
- Plant science decadal vision 2020-2030: Reimagining the potential of plants for a healthy and sustainable future , PLANT DIRECT (2020)
- Tree canopy cover constrains the fertility-diversity relationship in plant communities of the southeastern United States , ECOLOGY (2020)
- Distinct taxonomic and phylogenetic patterns of plant communities on acid and limestone soils in subtropical and tropical China , JOURNAL OF VEGETATION SCIENCE (2019)
- Vegetation classification at the association level under the China Vegetation Classification System: an example of six Stipa steppe formations in China , JOURNAL OF PLANT ECOLOGY (2019)
- Carolina Vegetation Survey: An initiative to improve regional implementation of the US National Vegetation Classification , Phytocoenologia (2018)
- Highway pollution effects on microhabitat community structure of corticolous lichens , Bryologist (2018)
- Effects of highway pollution on forest lichen community structure in western Wake County, North Carolina, USA , Bryologist (2017)
- Ernest Davis Seneca 1937-2015 , The Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America (2016)