Wilsey lab


Field days at the MEND plots.Available after September 12, 2018

Left to right: Field days at experimental plots, Biology of Grasslands (Oxford Univ. Press), Sylvan Runkel prairie preserve in Loess Hills of Iowa.


Brian Wilsey Lab

Title and Mailing Address:
Professor, Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology,
251 Bessey Hall,
Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011-1020
Office: 239 Bessey Hall
Lab: 265-1 Bessey Hall
Phone: (515)294-0232
Fax: (515)294-1337
E-mail: bwilsey@iastate.edu


In the Wilsey lab, we are interested in the ecology of grasslands. Tallgrass prairies are among the most species-diverse ecosystems. We commonly count 20-30 plant species in Iowa within small quadrats (0.4 m2), and most small prairies (< 10 ha) support more than one hundred species ( Martin et al. 2005, Wilsey et al. 2005a). It is still largely unknown how this very high species diversity develops and is maintained over time. Developing a better understanding of mechanisms behind diversity maintenance is a central focus of work in the lab (e.g. Wilsey et al. 2005, Polley et al. 2005, Martin and Wilsey 2006, Isbell et al. 2009, Wilsey et al. 2009). Furthermore, we are studying how changes in species diversity influence community stability and ecosystem process rates (Isbell et al. 2009, 2011, Wilsey et al. 2014).  Plant diversity and native species dominance can be important to plant-microbe and plant-insect interactions, which is the focus of our most recent work.  Information from our studies will be useful in the management and restoration of grassland ecosystems.

Biodiversity and Ecosystem Process rates

Is diversity an important predictor of ecosystem process rates? Biodiversity is declining worldwide from human activities, and it may lead to reductions in community persistence, resilience, and resistance to environmental changes.  It may also be associated with changes in carbon and nutrient cycling rates. Since the late 1990's, we have focused on how diversity can impact community and ecosystem processes.  Comparing the ecology of native-dominated and non-native dominated grasslands (i.e. invaded) has been a focus of recent work.


* denotes a graduate student; ** a postdoctoral fellow

Wilsey, B.J., Xu, X*, Polley, H.W., Hofmockel, K. and S.J. Hall.  2020.  Lower soil carbon stocks in exotic vs. native grasslands are due to reduced carbonates. Ecology e03039

Wilsey, B.J.  2020.  Restoration in the face of changing climate: importance of persistance, priority effects and species diversity.  Restoration Ecology in press

**Checinska Sielaff, A., H.W. Polley, *A. Fuentes-Ramirez, K. Hofmockel, and B.J. Wilsey. 2019. Mycorrhizal colonization and its relationship with plant performance differs between exotic and native grassland plant species.  Biological Invasions 21:1981-1991

**Checinska Sielaff, A., **R.N. Upton, K. Hofmockel, **X. Xu, H.W. Polley, and B.J. Wilsey.  2018. Fungal community structure and functions differ between native and novel (exotic-dominated) grassland ecosystems in a long-term experiment.  Plant and Soil 432:359-372

Craven, D., N. Eisenhauer, W.D. Pearse, Y. Hautier, C. Roscher, F. Isbell,  M. Bahn , M.C. Beierkuhnlein, C.G. Bönisch, N. Buchmann, C. Byun, J.A. Catford, B.E.L. Cerabolini, J.H.C. Cornelissen, J.M. Craine, E. De Luca, A. Ebeling, J.N. Griffin. A. Hector, J. Hines, A. Jentsch, J. Kattge, J. Kreyling, V. Lanta, N. Lemoine, S.T. Meyer,V. Minden, V. Onipchenko, H.W.  Polley, P.B. Reich, J. van Ruijven, B. Schamp, M.D. Smith, N.A. Soudzilovskaia, D. Tilman, A. Weigelt, B. Wilsey, P. Manning.  2018.  Multiple facets of biodiversity drive the diversity-stability relationship.  Nature Ecology and Evolution 2:1579-1587

 Polley HW, Wilsey BJ. 2018.  Variability in community productivity - mediating effects of vegetation attributes. Functional Ecology 32:1410-1419

Wilsey, B.J.  2018.  Biology of Grasslands. Oxford University Press     

*Goodale, K. and B.J. Wilsey. 2018. Exotic grassland species have stronger priority effects and smaller response to rainfall variability than native species.  Plant Ecology 219:429-439

Wilsey, B.J, L.M. Martin, and *A.D. Kaul.  2018.  Phenology differences between native and novel exotic-dominated grasslands rival the effects of climate change.  Journal of Applied Ecology 55:863-873 DOI:10.1111/1365-2664-1291.

Isbell, F., Craven, D., Connolly, J., Loreau, M., Schmid, B. Beierkuhnlein, C., Bezemer, T.M.,, Bonin, C., Bruelheide, H., de Luca, E., Ebeling, A., Griffin, J., Guo, Q, Hautier, Y., Hector, A., Jentsch, A., Kreyling, J., Lanta, V., Manning, P., Meyer, S.T., Mori, A.S., Naeem, S., Niklaus, P.A., Polley, H.W., Reich, P.B., Roscher, C., Seabloom, E., Smith, M., Thakur, M.P., Tilman, D., Tracy, B.F., van der Putten, W., van Ruijven, J., Weigelt, A., Weisser, W.W., Wilsey, B., and N. Eisenhauer.  2015.  Biodiversity increases the resistance of ecosystem productivity to climate extremes.  Nature 526:574-577

*Martin, L.M., Harris, M. and B.J. Wilsey. 2015.  Phenology and temporal niche overlap differ between novel, exotic- and native-dominated grasslands for plants, but not for pollinators.  Biological Invasions 17:2633-2644

Wilsey, B.J. and *L.M. Martin.  2015.  Top-down control of rare species abundances by native ungulates in a grassland restoration.  Restoration Ecology 23:465-472.

*Martin, L.M. and B.J. Wilsey. 2015.  Novel, exotic-dominated grasslands exhibit altered patterns of beta diversity relative to native grasslands.  Ecology 96:1042-1051

Wilsey, B.J., *Barber, K. and *L.M. Martin.  2015. Exotic grassland species have stronger priority effects than natives regardless of whether they are cultivated or wild genotypes.  New Phytologist 205:928-937

Wilsey, B.J., **Daneshgar, P.P., Hofmockel, K. and H.W. Polley. 2014. Invaded grassland communities have altered stability-maintenance mechanisms but equal stability compared to native communities. Ecology Letters 17:92-100

*Martin, L.M., Polley, H.W., **Daneshgar, P.P., Harris, M.A. and B.J. Wilsey. 2014. Biodiversity, photosynthetic mode, and ecosystem services differ between native and novel ecosystems. Oecologia 175:687-697

*Martin, L.M., and B.J. Wilsey. 2012. Assembly history alters alpha and beta diversity, exotic-native proportions, and ecosystem functioning of restored prairie plant communities. Journal of Applied Ecology 49:1436-1445

*Yurkonis, K.A., Wilsey, B.J. and K.A. Moloney. 2012. Initial plant arrangement affects invasion resistance in experimental grassland plots. Journal of Vegetation Science 23:4-12

*Isbell, F., Calcagno, V., Hector, A., Connolly, J., Harpole, W.S., Reich, P.B., Scherer-Lorenzen, M., Schmid, B., Tilman, D., van Ruijven, J., Weigelt, A., Wilsey, B.J., Zavaleta, E.S. and M. Loreau. 2011. High plant diversity is needed to maintain ecosystem services.  Nature 477:199-202

Date Last Modified: August 17, 2020

Copyright 2000 Brian J Wilsey