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Dr. Scott J. Meiners

Dr. Scott J. Meiners

Office: 1116 - Life Science Annex
Phone: 217-581-3425
Email: sjmeiners@eiu.edu

Scott Meiners's Vita
My research interests generally revolve around factors that influence the dynamics and regeneration of plant communities, though I am interested in a wide variety of topics in community ecology . Most of my research has been conducted in abandoned agricultural land. While not the most exotic of research sites, the abundance of these areas makes it an important part of our modern landscape. By understanding factors that influence the dynamics of vegetation change in these areas, we may be able to improve land management strategies. Recently, my research has expanded to include investigating chestnuts and hazelnuts as sustainable crops for Central Illinois as well as the ecology of riverine fish communities.

I use a variety of experimental, observational and statistical techniques to address these research topics. I have summarized a few current research questions below. If you are interested in getting involved in undergraduate research or in the graduate program at Eastern, and think that you would like to work with me, please contact me.


B.S. Cum laude, Botany, Miami University
M.S., Botany, Miami University
Ph.D. Ecology and Evolution, Rutgers University


Buell-Small Succession Study. 
I am currently the leader of the Buell-Small Succession Study (BSS) – the longest continuous study of succession dynamics. While the larger group has varied interests, I have focused on using the long-term vegetation data to answer questions on the causes and consequences of exotic plant invasions.  This work has been funded by the USDA and NSF and is in collaboration with Steward T. A. Pickett at The Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Mary L. Cadenasso at UC Davis and Peter J. Morin at Rutgers University.  More information on the BSS can be found on its website: www.ecostudies.org/bss.  This study has provided a rich context for diverse studies of the ecology of lianas, the functional ecology of succession and the dynamics of species invasions.  Current work is focusing on functional characterization of native and non-native species and on the phylogenetic patterns of community dynamics (in collaboration with Marc Cadotte, University of Toronto).
The ecology of invasion. 
Much of our recent work, both experimental and using the BSS data, has been on the biology of non-native plant species. I am specifically interested in determining the mechanisms of impacts as well as in understanding the dynamics of these invasions in natural systems. I am also working on quantifying the differences between native and exotic communities as a whole. Recent work has specifically focused on three species, Lonicera japonica, Rosa multiflora, and Microstegium vimineum.

Allelopathy in communities.
In the last few years I have become interested in how allelopathy, plant-plant chemical interactions, functions in plant communities.  Recent publications have described potential sources of variation in allelopathy and documented community-wide patterns in chemical production.  Current work in the lab is exploring sources and consequences of variation in allelopathy, paricularly using goldenrod (Solidago canadensis) as a model system.

Sustainable agriculture.
A long personal interest in growing nuts has now become a major research focus in my lab group.   With funding from EIU and IL Sustainable Agriculture, we have set up a trial orchard for chestnuts and hazelnuts in collboration with a rural school district.  This project is just beginning, but will focus on evaluating varieties for local production and compare the ecological performance of commercial cultivars and open pollinated lines.  This project also has a major outreach component as it will train local students in issues of sustainable agriculture and develop programs for potential growers.

Ecology of riverine fish assemblages.
Through collaboration with EIU's fisheries biologist (Rob Colombo), we have started working on the dynamics of fish communities.  Current projects include the impacts of dams on the metacommunity and genetic structure of fish, catfish movements and the dynamics of fish communities in response to disturbance.  

It is my firm belief that students need to design and develop their own research program as part of their education. Therefore, my students are all free to study whatever research topic interests them. Below are some current student and recent research projects being done in my lab.  If you are interested in joining my group, please contact me!

Sharon Dubosky (MS student)  Evaluation of chestnut and hazelnut varieties for central Illinois
Kirstin Duffin (MS Student) Functional ecology of leaf nutrient chemistry in a successional plant community
Marci Gallagher (MS student)  Life history trade-offs with allelopathy in Solidago canadensis
Hanna Kruckman (MS student) Ecology of catfish populations in the Wabash River
Shannon Smith (MS Student) Effects of dams on the genetic structure of fish populations
Leo Herzberger and Emilie Pfeiffer (Undergraduates) Influence of soil microbial communities on native and non-native legumes in prairie restoration
Anna Lindstrom (Undergraduate) Educational outreach materials for chestnuts and hazelnuts
Scott Howard (MSNS HS teacher) Development of fine scale structure in prairie restoration
James Megenhardt (MSNS HS teacher) Specificity of the allelochemical impacts of Solidago canadensis on prairie species

 Lab alumni
 Jamie Jordan (MS 2004) Thesis: The eastern box turtle (Terrepene c. carolina) as a dispersal vector of seeds and spores. USDA ARS, TN
Kathryn Yurkonis (MS 2005) Thesis: Plant species turnover as a mechanism of community change in response to biotic and abiotic perturbation. Assistant professor, University of North Dakota
Brent Wachholder (MS 2006) Thesis: Quantifying impacts of white-tailed deer on woodland plant communities. US ATF, Chicago, IL
Elise Tulloss (MS 2006) Thesis: Defining edge gradients using plant species composition in oak-hickory forests. Post Doc., UC Davis
Bill Stewart (MS 2006) Thesis: The effects of remnant seed source size on plant performance in a prairie restoration. Research associate, UC Davis
Steve Banasiak (MS 2007) Thesis: Long term population dynamics of Rosa multiflora in a successional system. High School Teacher, IL
Jeremy Klass (MS 2008) Thesis: Soil variability and its influence on plant performance. PhD Candidate New Mexico State University. PhD,New Mexico State 
BreAnne Nott (BS 2008) Honor’s thesis: Edge influences on the reproductive success of Symphoricarpos orbiculatus. PhD Candidate Washington State University.
Timothy Rye (MS 2008) Long-term functional trait dynamics in abandoned agricultural fields.  Illinois Natural History Survey.
Matt Burmeister (MS 2008)  The influence of seed source on vegetative and reproductive performance of three common prairie grasses common in grassland restoration. Consultant, IL.
Laura Ladwig (MS 2009) Ecology and impacts of lianas in regenerating forests.  Post Doc., University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Lydia Miramontes Loyd (2009) Fragmentation effects on fitness in five common prairie species. Consultant, Michigan City, IN
Nikki Pisula (BS 2008,MS 2010). Does evolutionary exposure mediate allelopathic effects?  Consultant, Chicago, IL
Kim Lang (MS 2010) Effects of forest edges on population dynamics in a successional system.  Research technician, Bradley University
Royce Luo (MS 2012) Ecology of mycorrhizae during old field succession. Guilin Institute of Tourism, China
Peter Frey (MS 2014) Microenvironmental habitat selection of regenerating oak and maple seedlings. NRCS, IL
Ryan Hastings (MS 2014) Effects of dams on fish and macroinvertebrate communities in the Vermillion River, IL. USGS, IL
Anna Herzberger (BS 2014) Honor's thesis:Plant-microbial interactions change along a prairie restoration chronosequence   Graduate student, Michigan State University
Kelsey Phipps (BS 2014) Undergraduate thesis: Impacts of soil micriobial communities on the allelopathic potential of goldenrod.  D. Pharm. Concordia University


Selected Publications

Meiners, S. J.,
M. L. Cadenasso, S. T. A. Pickett.  2015.  An integrative approach to successional dynamics:Tempo and mode of community change.  Cambridge University Press.  Expected publication date - March, 2015.
Journal Articles and book chapters:
Ladwig, L. M. and S. J. Meiners.  2015. The role of lianas in temperate tree communities.  Pp 190-204 InS. Schnitzer, F. Bongers, R.J. Burnham and F. E. Putz (eds.) The ecology of lianas.  Wiley & Sons.
Meiners, S. J.  2014.  Functional correlates of allelopathic potential in a successional plant community.  Plant Ecology.215:661–672.
Pickett, S. T. A., M. L. Cadenasso,andS. J. Meiners.  2013.  Vegetation dynamics.  pp 107-140 In E. van der Maarel and J. Franklin (eds),  Vegetation Ecology, 2ndedition . Wiley-Blackwell, New York.
Meiners S.J., C.H.Kong, L.M. Ladwig, N.L. Pisula and K. A. Lang  2012.  Developing an ecological context for allelopathy.  Plant Ecology 213:1221-1227.
Pickett, S. T. A., S. J. Meiners, and M. L. Cadenasso.  2011.  Domain and propositions of succession theory.  pp 185-216 In The theory of ecology, S. M. Scheiner and M. R. Willig, eds. University of Chicago Press.
Ladwig, L. M. and S. J. Meiners. 2010Spatiotemporal dynamics of lianas during 50 years of succession to temperate forest.  Ecology.  91:671-680.
Banasiak, S. E. and S. J. Meiners.  2009.  Long-term dynamics of Rosa multiflora in a successional system.  Biological Invasions 11:215-224.
S. J. Meiners.  2007Apparent competition: an impact of exotic shrub invasion on tree regeneration.  Biological Invasions 9:849-855.
S. J. Meiners.  2007. Native and exotic plant species exhibit similar population dynamics during succession. Ecology 88:1098-1104.
Yurkonis, K. A., S. J. Meiners, and B. E. Wachholder.  2005.  Invasion impacts diversity through altered community dynamics.  Journal of Ecology 93:1053-1061
Yurkonis, K. A. and S. J. Meiners.  2004.  Invasion impacts species turnover in a successional system. Ecology Letters 7:764-769
Meiners, S. J., M. L. Cadenasso and S. T. A. Pickett.  2004. Beyond biodiversity: multiple responses of invasion in a self-assembling community.  Ecology Letters7:121-126


Funding & Grants

My research has been funded through grants from The National Science Foundation, US Department of Agriculture, US Fish and Wildlife Service, IL Department of Agriculture and IL Department of Natural Resources.

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