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Department of Botany|College of Arts and Sciences

William K. Lauenroth


Specialization: Plant community ecology and ecohydrology

Office: Aven Nelson, 135


B.S. Humbolt State University, Range Management 1968
M.S. North Dakota State UNiversity, Botany, 1970
Ph.D. Colorado State University, Range Science, 1973


ECOL 5550 Ecology as a Scientific Profession
ENR 4000 Approaches to Environmental and Natural Resource Problem Solving
ENR 5000 Approaches to Environmental and Natural Resource Problem Solving
ENR 4900 Environment and Natural Resources Assessment Practice
ENR 5900 Environment and Natural Resources Assessment Practice

Research Emphasis

I am very broadly interested in ecosystems in dry areas. My past work has focused largely on grasslands and I expect most of my future research to shift towards questions associated with mixtures of grasses and shrubs or in ecosystems dominated by shrubs. A portion of my research has focused on plant population and community ecology. Within these general topics, my students and I have worked on demography, controls on recruitment, resource partitioning between grasses and woody plants, responses to and recovery from disturbance ranging from small to large spatial scale including grazing by domestic livestock. Another branch of the research my students and I have conducted falls within the realm of ecosystem ecology and has included above and belowground net primary production, carbon budgets, and water balance. I use simulation modeling as a key exploratory and analysis tool across all of the organizational and spatial scales of my research.

Current Research Projects

Shortgrass Steppe Long Term Ecological Research Project
Testing controls on shrub-grass interactions in a cool temperate ecosystem
Response of the sagebrush-conifer ecotone to a mountain pine beetle epidemic and climate change

Selected Publications

(complete list)

Lauenroth, W. K. and P. B. Adler. 2008. Demography of grassland plants: Survival, life expectancy, and lifespan. Journal of Ecology 96:1023-1032.

Derner, J. D., W. K. Lauenroth, P. Stapp, and D. J. Augustine. 2009. Livestock as ecosystem engineers for grassland bird habitat in the western Great Plains of North America. Rangeland Ecology and Management 62:111-118.

Munson, S. M. and W. K. Lauenroth. 2009. Plant population and community responses to removal of the dominant species. Journal of Vegetation Science 20: 1-9.

Lauenroth, W. K. and J. B. Bradford. 2009. Ecohydrology of dry regions of the United States: Precipitation pulses and intraseasonal drought. Ecohydrology 2 173-181.

Munson, S. M., T. J. Benton, W. K. Lauenroth, and  I. C. Burke. 2010. Soil carbon flux following pulse precipitation events in the shortgrass steppe. Ecological Research 25: 205-211.

Lauenroth, W. K. and J. B. Bradford. 2011. Ecohydrology of dry regions of the United States: Water balance consequences of small precipitation events. Ecohydrology (in press)

Schlaepfer, D. R., W. K. Lauenroth and J. B. Bradford. 2011. Ecohydrological niche of sagebrush ecosystems. Ecohydrology (in press).

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