Biology ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 5-14-2022


Terrestrial ecosystems are critical to human and ecological processes but many gaps in our knowledge remain regarding how terrestrial plant communities assemble and respond to global change. I used field experiments distributed around the world, including long-term experiments from the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge (SNWR) in New Mexico and deserts of the southwestern U.S., to evaluate the consequences of drought and other abiotic stressors on plant communities. Dominant grasses were particularly important for the productivity and structure of grasslands at SNWR. In general, the structure of desert plant communities had high resistance to extreme drought, though grasses and other perennial species were most negatively impacted. Global change drivers altered the beta diversity of plant communities both locally and among sites. Continued study of how communities respond to abiotic disturbances is of increasing importance as we try to conserve modern ecosystems and predict the consequences of anthropogenic global change.




community ecology, plant ecology, global change, climate change, drought, Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge

Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

UNM Biology Department

First Committee Member (Chair)

Dr. Scott Collins

Second Committee Member

Dr. Jennifer Rudgers

Third Committee Member

Dr. Marcy Litvak

Fourth Committee Member

Dr. Benjamin Wong Blonder