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Daniel Gruner - Biodiversity and Community Ecology

I am a community ecologist with empirical projects on tropical islands, and coastal wetlands, montane grasslands, and local agricultural systems, and I use a variety of analytical tools for synthetic reviews and statistical modeling. Generally, our lab investigates species interactions in food webs, the maintenance of biodiversity in ecological communities, and community feedbacks with ecosystem function. I research these topics primarily using arthropods in terrestrial ecosystems, but I work in soils and in treetops, with organisms from nematodes to birds to herbaceous plants, and in both temperate and tropical regions. I believe it is important to apply basic science to address environmental challenges, particularly with biodiversity conservation, biological invasions, and climate change.



Graduate students Alex Forde, Cora Johnston, and Mayda Nathan presented at the annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America in Sacramento. (August 2014)

Sadly for us but wonderful for him, Jake Bodart headed off to grad school in Forest Entomology at University of Arkansas - Fayatteville! Good luck Jake! (June 2014)

Madhvi attended the OTS Conservation Genetics course in Costa Rica this summer. (June 2014)

Congratulations to Lily Durkee! In the Montgomery-Blair High School Senior Research Project Convention, she received two prizes for her research in the lab: first place in General Biology, and the top overall prize for biological sciences, the Dr. Vaccaro Research Scholarship! Lily will enroll at UMD in the fall on a FULL RIDE with a Banneker/Key Scholarship! (Apr 2014)

Elske's Masters thesis research is now published in Biological Conservation, here! (April 2014)

Cora Johnston presented her results from crab larvae and settlement surveys at the Benthics meeting in Jacksonville. (March 2014)

Two papers from the Nutrient Network collaboration appeared together in an issue of Nature! Meanwhile both are online, here and here. See also the news writeup prepared by Heather Dewar for the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences. In summary, this work demonstrates that eutrophication destabilizes grassland plant diversity, but herbivores can rescue diversity in many cases by opening up the canopy allowing light to penetrate. (March 2014)

Cora, Mayda and Alex submitted abstracts for the August meeting of the Ecological Society of America in Sacramento. (March 2014)

Brian Thompson's second PhD chapter on the European woodwasp, Sirex noctilio, is now out in the Annals of the Entomologyical Society of America. Stay tuned for more fundamental discoveries from this system! (Mar 2014)

Check out the special issue on "Macrosystems Ecology" just published in the February issue of Frontiers in Ecology and Environment! Dan and mangrove collaborator Jim Kellner helped with many drafts and revisions in the lead article. (Feb 2014)

Our recent paper in PNAS shows that increased mangrove areal extent in Northern Florida is tied to a decreased frequency of severe winter cold snaps over 28 years, 1984 to 2011. Smithsonian/Brown University postdoc Kyle Cavanaugh (who recently accepted a tenure track position in Geography at UCLA - congrats, Kyle!) led the study using subpixel analysis of historical Landsat imagery. The paper was covered by more than two dozen news outlets, including NPR All Things Considered, the New York Times, and the Weather Channel. (January 2014) Update (March 2014): PNAS published a challenge to the article along with our reply.

Dan and Alex presented posters at the first Gordon Conference on Predator-Prey Interactions in Ventura, CA. (Jan 2014)

Cora and Mayda presented their research as part of a special session organized by our group with collaborators for the 22nd Biennial Conference of the Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation in San Diego, CA. Our session was titled, "Mangrove Expansion into Salt Marsh Habitats: Causes and Consequences." (Nov 2013)


News archive


Daniel Gruner
Assistant Associate Professor
Department of Entomology
University of Maryland

Email: dsgruner _at_
Phone: 301 405 3957
Fax: 301 314 9290


"If you cultivate a healthy poverty and simplicity, so that finding a penny will literally make your day, then, since the world is in fact planted with pennies, you have with your poverty bought a lifetime of days."
--- Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek


Postal address:

Department of Entomology
4112 Plant Sciences Bldg
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742

Physical address:

4142 Plant Sciences (office)
4164 Plant Sciences (lab)