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Brian J Wilsey

Brian J Wilsey

  • Professor
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.

Contact Info

253 Bessey
2200 Osborn Dr.


  • B.S., Biology, Henderson State University, 1986
  • M.S., Wildlife, Louisiana State University, 1988
  • Ph.D., Biology, Syracuse University, 1995