David Tilman

University of Minnesota, Minneapolis


Election Year: 2002
Primary Section: 63, Environmental Sciences and Ecology
Secondary Section: 27, Evolutionary Biology
Membership Type: Member

Research Interests

I am an experimental and theoretical ecologist interested in biological diversity; the controls of ecosystem composition, stability and productivity; and the long-term implications for society of human impacts on global ecosystems. I am intrigued by the processes that have led to the evolution of the immense number of species that live on Earth, by the mechanisms that allow these species to persist and coexist, and by the effects of this biological diversity on ecosystem functioning. I rarely start a field experiment except to test predictions of theory and rarely pursue a topic theoretically unless its importance has been suggested by results of field experiments. I am using large-scale, long-term, well-replicated field experiments and mathematical theory to explore (1) the effects of the loss of plant biodiversity on ecosystem stability, productivity, nutrient dynamics, and trophic structure; (2) effects of chronic nitrogen deposition on ecosystem diversity, composition, and functioning; and (3) mechanisms controlling the assembly, composition, and diversity of ecosystems. I am deeply interested in the applications of and communication of science to society. I enjoy collaborating with scholars in other disciplines to pursue such issues as the evolution of ethics, agricultural sustainability, and insights from the parallels between economics and ecology.

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