Margaret M. Moore, Ph.D. - Professor

moore Research Interests

Plant community ecology

Vegetation Change in Southwestern Plant Communities

We study changes in southwestern plant communities since Euro-American settlement. In particular, we quantify changes in: 1) tree structural characteristics (such as age, density, and diameter distributions), species composition, and spatial pattern; and 2) changes in production, composition, and diversity of herbaceous plants and shrubs associated with 3) changing disturbance regimes (specifically fire, livestock grazing, and timber harvest) over the past 100+ years. The vegetation types we focus on are ponderosa pine, lower mixed conifer, montane and subalpine grasslands, and montane riparian areas. All of these vegetation types were affected by a number of factors that occurred almost simultaneously with Euro-American settlement including climate changes, livestock overgrazing, fire exclusion and suppression, logging, and road building. The combined effects of changing climate and rapid changes in disturbance regimes at the turn of the 20th c. disrupted the natural disturbance-recovery cycles and have implications for long-term alteration in community states across the Southwest.

We use a variety of tools to examine vegetation change in these systems, including direct measurements of age, structure, composition, and spatial pattern on a set of long-term permanent plots (established and mapped between 1909-1915), as well as dendrochronological techniques for tree and stand reconstruction. We use spatial statistics and GIS to examine the fine grain, patch-level changes over time. More recently, we added structural equation modeling to our toolbox, a technique that provides an analytical framework for dealing with the complexity and relative importance of factors affecting community structure, diversity and composition. Recognizing how the natural and anthropogenic disturbances shaped today's southwestern plant communities provides a critical baseline (natural range of variability concept) for management and potential restoration efforts.

Education

B.A., Valley City State University, 1980
M.S., North Dakota State University, 1982
Ph.D., University of Minnesota, 1987

Contact Information

Office: Building 82 - Room 235
Phone: 928.523.7457
Email: Margaret.Moore@nau.edu