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Lauren Sullivan

Lauren Sullivan

Assistant Professor
Division of Biological Sciences

E-mail: Sullivanll (at) missouri (dot) edu
Office address: 105 Tucker Hall

In my research, I use empirical and mathematical tools to understand how plant movement influences population and community dynamics. In particular, I focus on how different global change factors like, habitat fragmentation, nutrient loading, and alterations to native herbivore communities cause changes in plant reproduction and dispersal, and the resulting consequences of this movement for conservation and restoration ecology.

Plant dispersal is an important demographic process that drives both ecological and evolutionary dynamics. My research program entwines field-based experiments with theory to more deeply understand dispersal as a process. Specifically, I experimentally address common simplifying assumptions about dispersal, and create theoretical models that incorporate these results to more accurately represent how dispersal plays a role in structuring plant population and community dynamics. My goal is to find ways to harness natural dispersal to increase plant species diversity in restored landscapes.

Some of my current research projects include:
1) I am using a combination of empirical data collection and population genomics via next generation sequencing to determine how far prairie plants move via pollen and seed. This will allow me to investigate how dispersal varies among rare prairie plant species where pollen and seed move by different dispersal modes (e.g. wind, animal), and how well factors like the environment and functional traits predict this variability.
2) I am beginning a new project to determine how seed dispersal plays a role in grassland recovery from disturbance. I will be using a series of coordinated identical experiments in grasslands across the globe to understand role of temporal (seed banking) versus spatial (seed rain) dispersal for community assembly and transitory dynamics.

The broader implications of my work ties strongly to the importance of understanding basic ecological processes in order to recreate functioning ecosystems through restoration. Most of my research focuses on grasslands which are highly valuable systems, as the rich soil created by these deep-rooted plants is important for agriculture, ranching, etc. Yet our restored grasslands often have lower diversity and functioning than their undisturbed counterparts. My work aims to understand how we can use natural seed rain and dispersal to help increase diversity in restored grasslands.

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  •  2017 - College of Biological Sciences - Impactful Research Award for Postdoctoral Scientists, University of Minnesota
  • 2007 - Phi Beta Kappa, University of Michigan

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Sullivan, L. L., Clark, A. T., Tilman, D., and Shaw, A. K. (2018b). Mechanistically-
derived dispersal kernels explain species-level patterns of recruitment and succession.
Ecology, 99(11):2415-2420.

Sullivan, L. L., Ballen, C. J., and Cotner, S. (2018). Small group gender ratios impact
biology class performance and peer evaluations. PLOS ONE, 13(4):e0195129.

Anderson, T. M., Griffth, D. M., Grace, J. B., and Lind, E M ... Sullivan, L. L. ... Borer,
E. B. (2018). Herbivory and eutrophication mediate grassland plant nutrient responses
across a global climatic gradient. Ecology, 99(4):822-831.

Frater, P. N., Borer, E. T., Fay, P. A., Jin, V., Knaeble, B., Seabloom, E. W., Sullivan, L.
L.
, Wedin, D., and Harpole, W. S. (2018). Nutrients and environment influence arbuscular
mycorrhizal colonization both independently and interactively in Schizachyrium scoparium.
Plant and Soil , 425(1-2):493-506.

Galic, N., Sullivan, L. L., Grimm, V., and Forbes, V. E. (2018). When things don't
add up: quantifying impacts of multiple stressors from individual metabolism to ecosystem
processing. Ecology Letters, 21:568-577.

Harpole, W. S., Sullivan, L. L., Lind, E. M., Firn, J., Adler, P. B., Borer, E. T., Chase, J.,
Fay, P. A., Hautier, Y., Hillebrand, H., MacDougall, A. S., and Seabloom, E. W. ... Stevens,
C. J. (2017). Out of the shadows: multiple nutrient limitations drive relationships among
biomass, light and plant diversity. Functional Ecology, 31:1839-1846.

Sullivan, L. L. , Li, B., Miller, T. E. X., Neubert, M. G., and Shaw, A. K. (2017). Density
dependence in demography and dispersal generates fluctuating invasion speeds. Proceedings
of the National Academy of Sciences, 114(19):5053-5058.

Harpole, W. S., Sullivan, L. L., Lind, E. M., Firn, J., Adler, P. B., Borer, E. T., Chase, J.,
Fay, P. A., Hautier, Y., Hillebrand, H., MacDougall, A. S., Seabloom, E. W., and Williams,
R. ...Wragg, P. D. (2016). Addition of multiple limiting resources reduces grassland diversity.
Nature, 537(7618):93-96.

Flores-Moreno, H., Reich, P., Lind, E. M., Sullivan, L. L., Seabloom, E. W., Yahdjian, L.,
MacDougall, A., and Reichmann, L. ... Borer, E. T. (2016). Climate modifies response of
non-native and native species richness to nutrient enrichment. Philosophical Transactions
B, 371:20150273

Sullivan, L. L., Danielson, B. J., and Harpole, W. S. (2016). Mammalian herbivores alter
the population growth and spatial establishment of an early-establishing grassland species.
PLOS ONE, 11(2):e0147715

Seabloom, E. W., Borer, E. T., Buckley, Y. M., Cleland, E. E., Davies, K. F., Firn, J.,
Harpole, W. S., Hautier, Y., Lind, E. M., MacDougall, A. S., Orrock, J. L., and Prober, S. M.
... Sullivan, L. L. ... Yang, L. (2015). Plant species' origin predicts dominance and response
to nutrient enrichment and herbivores in global grasslands. Nature Communications, 6:7710.

Sitters, J., Atkinson, C. L., Guelzow, N., Kelly, P., and Sullivan, L. L. (2015). Spatial
stoichiometry: cross-ecosystem material flows and their impact on recipient ecosystems and
organisms. Oikos, 124(7):920-930.

Haddad, N. M., Brudvig, L. A., Damschen, E. I., Evans, D. M., Johnson, B. L., Levey,
D. J., Orrock, J. L., Resasco, J., Sullivan, L. L., Tewksbury, J. J., Wagner, S. A., and
Weldon, A. J. (2014). Potential negative ecological e_ects of corridors. Conservation Biology,
28(5):1178-1187.

Borer, E. T., Seabloom, E. W., Gruner, D. S., Harpole, W. S., Hillebrand, H., and Lind, E
M ... Sullivan, L. L. ... Yang, L. (2014). Herbivores and nutrients control grassland plant
diversity via light limitation. Nature, 508(7497):517-520.

Seabloom, E. W., Borer, E. T., Buckley, Y., Cleland, E. E., Davies, K., Firn, J., Harpole,
W. S., Hautier, Y., Lind, E., Macdougall, A., Orrock, J. L., and Prober, S. M. ... Sullivan,
L. L.
... Yang, L. (2013). Predicting invasion in grassland ecosystems: Is exotic dominance
the real embarrassment of richness? Global Change Biology, 19(12):3677-3687.

Schafer, J. L., Sullivan, L. L. , Weekley, C. W., and Menges, E. S. (2013). Effects of habitat
and time-since-fire on recruitment, survival, and reproduction of Paronychia chartacea ssp.
chartacea, a short-lived Florida scrub endemic herb. The Journal of the Torrey Botanical
Society, 140(2):181-195.

Adler, P. B., Seabloom, E. W., Borer, E. T., Hillebrand, H., Hautier, Y., Hector, A., Harpole,
W. S., O'Halloran, L. R., and Grace, J. B. ... Sullivan, L. L. ... Yang, L. H. (2011).
Productivity is a poor predictor of plant species richness. Science, 333:1750-1753

Sullivan, L. L. , Johnson, B. L., Brudvig, L. A., and Haddad, N. M. (2011). Can dispersal
mode predict corridor e_ects on plant parasites? Ecology, 92(8):1559-1564

Sullivan, L. L. , Wildova, R., Goldberg, D., and Vogel, C. (2010). Growth of three cattail
(Typha ) taxa in response to elevated CO2 . Plant Ecology, 207:121-129

 

 

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