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Lauren Porensky


Lauren Porensky

Crops Research Laboratory
1701 Center Ave.
Fort Collins, CO 80526
PHONE:  970-492-7139
FAX:     970-492-7160


 Bachelor of Science   Environmental Science 2004   Brown University
 Ph.D.  Ecology 2012  University of California, Davis


Research Interests:

Dr. Porensky's research focuses on balancing livestock production with conservation and restoration in semi-arid rangelands. Her broad research interests include plant community ecology, plant-herbivore interactions, landscape ecology, and restoration ecology.

Current questions include: 

How do fire and sagebrush coexist in the northern Great Plains, and what management strategies will promote sustainable coexistence

 Thunder Basin Project


Jorns T.R., Scasta, J.D., Derner, J.D., Augustine D.J., Porensky, L.M., Raynor, E.J. and the CARM Stakeholder Group2024. Adaptive multi-paddock grazing management reduces diet quality of yearling cattle in shortgrass steppe. The Rangeland Journal 45(4): 160–172.

Kearney, S.P., Porensky, L.M., Augustine, D.J. and Pellatz, D.W. 2023. Toward broad-scale mapping and characterization of prairie dog colonies from airborne imagery using deep learning. Ecological Indicators 154: 110684.

Frost, M.D., Komatsu, K.J., Porensky, L.M., Reinhart, K.O., Wilcox, K.R. and Koerner, S.E. 2023. Consequences of rainfall manipulations for invasive annual grasses vary across grazed northern mixed-grass prairie sites. Rangeland Ecology & Management 90: 1-12.

Maxwell, T.M., Germino, M.J., Romero, S., Porensky, L.M., Blumenthal, D.M., Brown, C.S. and Adler, P.B. 2023. Experimental manipulation of soil-surface albedo alters phenology and growth of Bromus tectorum (cheatgrass). Plant and Soil 487: 325–339.

Rinella, M.J., Porensky, L.M., S. Bellows, S., Knox, J. and E.P. Metier. 2023. Establishing forbs for pollinators in agricultural landscapes of the Great Plains. Restoration Ecology 31(4): e13846.

Augustine, D.J., Kearney, S.P., Raynor, E.J., Porensky, L.M. and Derner, J.D. 2023. Adaptive, multi-paddock, rotational grazing management alters foraging behavior and spatial grazing distribution of free-ranging cattle. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 352: 108521.

Copeland, S.M., Hoover, D.L., Augustine, D.J., Bates, J.D., Boyd, C.S., Davies, K.W., Derner, J.D., Duniway, M.C., Porensky, L.M. and Vermeire, L.T. 2023. Variable effects of long-term livestock grazing across the western United States suggest diverse approaches are needed to meet global change challenges. Applied Vegetation Science 26(1):e12719.

Barrile, G.M., Augustine, D.J., Porensky, L.M., Duchardt, C.J., Shoemaker, K.T., Hartway, C.R., Derner, J.D., Hunter, E.A. and Davidson, A.D. 2023. A big data–model integration approach for predicting epizootics and population recovery in a keystone species. Ecological Applications 33(4): e2827.

Gornish, E. S., Guo, J. S., Porensky, L.M., Perryman, B. L., & Leger, E. A. 2023. Pre-fire grazing and herbicide treatments can affect post-fire vegetation in a Great Basin rangeland. Ecological Solutions and Evidence 4: e12215.

Raynor, E.J., Derner, J.D., Augustine, D.J., Jablonski, K.E., Porensky, L.M., Ritten, J., Hoover, D.L. and Elliott, J. 2022. Balancing ecosystem service outcomes at the ranch-scale in shortgrass steppe: The role of grazing management. Rangelands 44: 391-397.

Spiegal, S., Webb, N.P., Boughton, E.H., Boughton, R.K., Brymer, A.B., Clark, P.E., Collins, C.D.H., Hoover, D.L., Kaplan, N., McCord, S.E., Meredith, G., Porensky, L.M., Toledo, D., Wilmer, H., Wulfhorst, J.D. and Bestelmeyer, B.T. 2022. Measuring the social and ecological performance of agricultural innovations on rangelands: Progress and plans for an indicator framework in the LTAR network. Rangelands 44: 334–344.

Wilmer, H., Schulz, T., Fernández-Giménez, M.E., Derner, J.D., Porensky, L.M., Augustine, D.J., Ritten, J., Dwyer, A. and Meade, R. 2022. Social learning lessons from collaborative adaptive rangeland management. Rangelands 44(5): 316-326.

Raynor, E.J., Derner, J.D., Porensky, L.M., Hoover, D.L., Augustine, D.J., Jablonski, K.E., Dwyer, A.M., and K.P. Davis. 2022. Grazing Management Practices for Grassland Bird Breeding Habitat in the Shortgrass Steppe. Colorado State University Extension Fact Sheet No. 1.636 Nature Resources Management.

Pearse, I.S., Duchardt, C.J., Legg, L., and L.M. Porensky. 2021. Grasshopper Species Composition Differs Between Prairie Dog Colonies and Undisturbed Sites in a Sagebrush Grassland. Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society 94(3), 183-198.

Duchardt, C.J., Augustine, D.J., Porensky, L.M., Beck, J.L., Hennig, J.D., Pellatz, D.W., Scasta, J.D., Connell, L.C. and A.D. Davidson. 2022. Disease and Weather Induce Rapid Shifts in a Rangeland Ecosystem Mediated by a Keystone Species (Cynomys ludovicianus). Ecological Applications 33: e2712.

Crow, L., Porensky, L.M., Augustine, D.J., Ritten, J., Bastian, C.T., Paisley, S.I. 2022. Evaluating Prairie Dog–Cattle Competition from the Perspective of a Ranching Enterprise in the Western Great Plains: Economic Analysis of Potential Effects on Long-Term Profitability. Rangeland Ecology & Management 85, 56-65.

Jorns, T.R., Derner, J.D., D.J. Augustine, D.D. Briske, L.M. Porensky, J.D. Scasta, J.L. Beck and S. Lake. 2022. Movement Dynamics and Energy Expenditure Do Not Explain Weight Gain Differences of Free-ranging Yearling Steers in Shortgrass Steppe Under Contrasting Grazing Management. Rangeland Ecology and Management 85: 38-47.

Ebel, C.R., M.F. Case, C.M. Werner, L.M. Porensky, K.E. Veblen, H.B.M. Wells, D.M. Kimuyu, R.E. Langendorf, T.P. Young, and L.M. Hallett. 2022. Herbivory and drought reduce the temporal stability of herbaceous cover by increasing synchrony in a semi-arid savanna. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 10: 867051. doi:10.3389/fevo.2022.867051

Davidson, A.D., Augustine, D.J., Jacobsen, H., Pellatz, D., Porensky, L.M., McKee, G. and Duchardt, C., 2022. Boom and bust cycles of black-tailed prairie dog populations in the Thunder Basin grassland ecosystem. Journal of Mammalogy 103(5): 1112-1126

Wells, H.B.M., Crego, R.D., Ekadeli, J., Namoni, M., Kimuyu, D.M., Odadi, W.O., Porensky, L.M., Dougill, A.J., Stringer, L.C. and Young, T.P. 2022. Less Is More: Lowering Cattle Stocking Rates Enhances Wild Herbivore Habitat Use and Cattle Foraging Efficiency. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 10: 825689. doi: 10.3389/fevo.2022.825689

Kearney, S.P., Porensky, L.M., Augustine, D.J., Derner, J.D., Gao, F. 2022. Predicting Spatial-Temporal Patterns of Diet Quality and Large Herbivore Performance Using Satellite Time Series. Ecological Applications 32(2): e2503.

Wells, H.B.M., Porensky, L.M., Veblen, K.E., Riginos, C., Stringer, L.C., Dougill, A.J., Namoni, M., Ekadeli, J., Young, T.P. 2022. At High Stocking Rates, Cattle Do Not Functionally Replace Wild Herbivores in Shaping Understory Community Composition. Ecological Applications 32: e2520.

Kearney, S.P., Porensky, L.M., Augustine, D.J., Gaffney, R., Derner, J.D. 2022. Monitoring standing herbaceous biomass and thresholds in semiarid rangelands from harmonized Landsat 8 and Sentinel-2 imagery to support within-season adaptive management. Remote Sensing of Environment 271: 112907.

Gaffney, R., D.J. Augustine, S.P. Kearney, and L.M. Porensky. 2021. Using hyperspectral imagery to characterize rangeland vegetation composition at process-relevant scales. Remote Sensing 13: 4603. doi: 10.3390/rs13224603

Porensky, L.M. 2021. Embracing complexity and humility in rangeland science. Rangelands 43: 142-150.

Shackelford, N., G.B. Paterno, D.E. Winkler, T.E. Erickson, E.A. Leger, L.N. Svejcar, M.F. Breed, A.M. Faist, P.L. Harrison, M.F. Curran, Q. Guo, A. Kirmer, D. Law, K. Mganga, S.M. Munson, L.M. Porensky, R.E. Quiroga, P. Török, C.E. Wainwright, ...and K.L. Suding. 2021. Drivers of seedling establishment success in dryland restoration efforts. Nature Ecology and Evolution 5:1283-1290. doi: 10.1038/s41559-021-01510-3

Blumenthal, D.M., D. LeCain, L.M. Porensky, E.A. Leger, R. Gaffney, T. Ocheltree, and A. Pilmanis. 2021. Local adaptation to precipitation in the perennial grass Elymus elymoides: tradeoffs between growth and drought resistance traits. Evolutionary Applications 14:524– 535.

Duchardt, C.J., L.M. Porensky, and I.S. Pearse. 2021. Direct and indirect effects of an ecosystem engineer on a shrubland-prairie food web. Ecology 102:e03195.

Porensky, L. M., D. J. Augustine, J. D. Derner, H. Wilmer, M. N. Lipke, M. E. Fernández-Giménez, D.D. Briske, the CARM Stakeholder Group. 2021. Collaborative adaptive rangeland management, multipaddock rotational grazing, and the story of the regrazed grass plant. Rangeland Ecology & Management 78: 127–141.

Porensky, L. M., O. Baughman, M. A. Williamson, B. L. Perryman, M. D. Madsen, E. A. Leger. 2021. Using native grass seeding and targeted spring grazing to reduce low-level Bromus tectorum invasion on the Colorado Plateau. Biological Invasions 23:705-722.

Hoover, D. L., W. K. Lauenroth, D. G. Milchunas, L. M. Porensky, D. J. Augustine, and J. D. Derner. 2021. Sensitivity of productivity to precipitation amount and pattern varies by topographic position in a semiarid grassland. Ecosphere 12(2): e03376. 10.1002/ecs2.3376

Reid RS, Fernández-Giménez ME, Wilmer H, Pickering T, Kassam K-AS, Yasin A, Porensky LM, Derner JD, Nkedianye D, Jamsranjav C, Jamiyansharav K, Ulambayar T, Oteros-Rozas E, Ravera F, Bulbulshoev U, Kaziev DS and Knapp CN. 2021. Using research to support transformative impacts on complex, “wicked problems” with pastoral peoples in rangelands. Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems 4:600689. doi: 10.3389/fsufs.2020.600689

Derner, J. D, D. J. Augustine, D. D. Briske, H. Wilmer, L. M. Porensky, M. E. Fernández-Giménez, D. E. Peck,  J. P. Ritten , and the CARM Stakeholder Group. 2021. Can Collaborative Adaptive Management Improve Cattle Production in Multipaddock Grazing Systems? Rangeland Ecology & Management 75:1–8.

Wilcox, K. R., D. M. Blumenthal, J. A. Kray, K.E. Mueller, J. D. Derner, T. Ocheltree and L. M. Porensky. 2021. Plant traits related to precipitation sensitivity of species and communities in semiarid shortgrass prairie. New Phytologist 229:2007-2019. doi: 10.1111/nph.17000

Porensky, L.M., R.A. McGee, and D.W. Pellatz. 2020. Long-term grazing removal increased invasion and reduced native plant abundance and diversity in a sagebrush grassland. Global Ecology and Conservation 24:e01267.

Hillis, A.V., K. Berry, B. de Souza Leao Swette, C. Aslan, S. Berry, and L.M. Porensky. 2020. Unlikely alliances and their implications for resource management in the American West. Environmental Research Letters 15:045002.

Augustine, D. J., J. D. Derner, M. E. Fernández-Giménez, L. M. Porensky, H. Wilmer, D. D. Briske, the CARM Stakeholder Group. 2020.  Adaptive, multipaddock rotational grazing management: A ranch-scale assessment of effects on vegetation and livestock performance in semiarid rangeland. Rangeland Ecology & Management 73:796-810.

Espeland, E.K., L. Schreeg, and L.M. Porensky. 2020. Managing risks related to climate variability in rangeland-based livestock production: what producer driven strategies are shared and prevalent across diverse dryland geographies? Journal of Environmental Management 255:109889. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2019.109889

Reynolds, A. Q., J. D. Derner, D. J. Augustine, L. M. Porensky, H. Wilmer, T. Jorns, D. D. Briske, J. D. Scasta, and M. E. Fernández-Giménez, and the CARM Stakeholder Group. 2019. Ecological sites: can they be managed to promote livestock production? Rangelands 41:239–243, doi 10.1016/j.rala.2019.07.003

Veblen, K. E., and L. M. Porensky. 2019. Thresholds are in the eye of the beholder: plants and wildlife respond differently to short-term cattle corrals. Ecological Applications 29(8):e01982. 10.1002/eap.1982

Ng’weno, C.C., S.W. Buskirk, N.J. Georgiadis, B.C. Gituku, A.K. Kibungei, L.M. Porensky, D.I. Rubenstein, and J.R. Goheen. 2019. Apparent competition, lion predation, and managed livestock grazing: can conservation value be enhanced? Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 7:123. doi: 10.3389/fevo.2019.00123.

 Connell, L.C., L.M. Porensky, A. Chalfoun, and J.D. Scasta. 2019. Black-tailed prairie dog (Sciuridae: Cynomys ludovicianus) metapopulation response to conspecific signals from a novel source. Animal Behaviour 150: 189-199.

 Connell, L.C., L.M. Porensky, and J.D. Scasta. 2019. Prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) influence on forage quantity and quality in a grazed grassland-shrubland ecotone. Rangeland Ecology and Management 72: 360-373.

Fernández-Giménez, M. E., D. J. Augustine, L. M. Porensky, H. Wilmer, J. D. Derner, D. D. Briske, and M. Olsgard Stewart. 2019. Complexity fosters learning in collaborative adaptive management. Ecology and Society 24(2):29.

Wilmer, H.; Porensky, L.M.; Fernández-Giménez, M.E.; Derner, J.D.; Augustine, D.J.; Ritten, J.P.; Peck, D.P. 2019. Community-Engaged Research Builds a Nature-Culture of Hope on North American Great Plains Rangelands. Social Sciences, 8, 22; doi:10.3390/socsci8010022

Goheen, J.R., D.J. Augustine, K.E. Veblen, D.M. Kimuyu, T.M. Palmer, L.M. Porensky, R.M. Pringle, J. Ratnam, C. Riginos, M. Sankaran, G.K. Charles, A.T. Ford, A.A. Hassan, R. Jakopak, T.R. Kartzinel, S. Kurukura, A.M. Louthan, W.O. Odadi, T.O. Otieno, A.M. Wambua, H.S. Young, and T.P. Young. 2018. Conservation lessons from large-mammal manipulations in East African savannas: the KLEE, UHURU, and GLADE experiments. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1429: 31-49. doi: 10.1111/nyas.13848

Porensky, L.M., B. L. Perryman, M. A. Williamson, M D. Madsen, E. A. Leger. 2018. Combining active restoration and targeted grazing to establish native plants and reduce fuel loads in invaded ecosystems. Ecology and Evolution.; 8:12533–12546; DOI: 10.1002/ece3.4642

Duchardt, C. J., L. M. Porensky, D. J. Augustine, and J. L. Beck. 2018. Disturbance shapes avian communities on a grassland–sagebrush ecotone. Ecosphere 9(10):e02483. 10.1002/ecs2.2483

Gaffney, R., L. M. Porensky, F. Gao, J. G. Irisarri, M. Durante, J. D. Derner and D. J. Augustine. 2018. Using APAR to predict aboveground plant productivity in semi-aid rangelands: spatial and temporal relationships differ. Remote Sensing; doi:10.3390/rs10091474

Connell, L.C., J.D. Scasta, and L.M. Porensky. 2018. Prairie dogs and wildfires shape vegetation structure in a sagebrush grassland more than does rest from ungulate grazing. Ecosphere 9(8): e02390.

Porensky, L. M., J. D. Derner, and D. W. Pellatz. 2018. Plant community responses to historical wildfire in a shrubland–grassland ecotone reveal hybrid disturbance response. Ecosphere 9(8):e02363. 10.1002/ecs2.2363

Wilmer, H.,  J. D. Derner, M. E. Fernández-Giménez , D. D. Briske , D. J. Augustine, L. M. Porensky , the CARM Stakeholder Group.  2018.  Collaborative Adaptive Rangeland Management Fosters Management-Science Partnerships. Rangeland Ecology & Management 71: 646–657

Young, T.P., L.M. Porensky, C. Riginos, K.E. Veblen, W.O. Odadi, D.M. Kimuyu, G.K. Charles and H.S. Young. 2018. Relationships between cattle and biodiversity revealed by the Kenya Long-term Exclosure Experiment (KLEE). Rangeland Ecology and Management 71: 281-291.

Riginos, C., L.M. Porensky, K.E. Veblen, T.P. Young. 2018. Herbivory and drought generate short-term stochasticity and long-term stability in a savanna understory community. Ecological Applications 28: 323–335.

Hulvey, K.B., E.A. Leger, L.M. Porensky, L.M. Roche, K.E. Veblen, A. Fund, J. Shaw and E.S. Gornish. 2017. Restoration islands: a tool for efficiently restoring dryland ecosystems. Restoration Ecology 25: S124-S134.

Porensky, L. M., J. D. Derner, D.J. Augustine, and D. G. Michunas. 2017. Plant community Composition after 75 Yr of sustained grazing intensity treatments in shortgrass steppe. Rangeland Ecology & Management, 70:456-464.

Augustine, D.J. J. D. Derner, D. Milchunas, D. Blumenthal & L. M. Porensky. 2017. Grazing moderates increases in C3 grass abundance over seven decades across a soil texture gradient in shortgrass steppe. Journal of Vegetation Science,Doi: 10.1111/jvs.12508

Charles, G.K., L.M. Porensky, C. Riginos, K.E. Veblen and T.P. Young. 2017. Herbivore effects on productivity vary by guild: cattle increase mean productivity while wildlife reduce variability. Ecological Applications 27:143-155.

Porensky, L.M. and T.P. Young. 2016. Development of edge effects around experimental ecosystem hotspots is affected by edge density and matrix type. Landscape Ecology 31: 1663-1680.

Porensky, L.M., K. E. Mueller, D. J. Augustine and J. D. Derner. 2016. Thresholds and gradients in a semi-arid grassland:long-term grazing treatments induce slow, continuous and reversible vegetation change. Journal of Applied Ecology, 53:1013–1022

Porensky, L.M., D. M. Blumenthal. 2016. Historical wildfires do not promote cheatgrass invasion in a western Great Plains steppe. Biol Invasions 18:3333–3349

Veblen,K. E., L. M. Porensky, C. Riginos, and T. P. Young. 2016. Are cattle surrogate wildlife? Savanna plant community composition explained by total herbivory more than herbivore type. Ecological Applications, 26:1610–1623

Irisarri, J.G.N., J.D. Derner, L.M. Porensky, D.J. Augustine, J.L. Reeves and K.E. Mueller. 2016. Grazing intensity differentially regulates ANPP response to precipitation in North American semiarid grasslands. Ecological Applications 26: 1370-1380.

Young, D. J. N., L. M. Porensky, K. M. Wolf, S. E. Fick, and T. P. Young. 2015. Burning reveals cryptic plant diversity and promotes coexistence in a California prairie restoration experiment. Ecosphere 6(5):81.

Porensky, L. M., K. E. Veblen. 2015. Generation of Ecosystem Hotspots Using Short-Term Cattle Corrals in an African Savanna. Rangeland Ecology & Management 68:131-141.

Porensky, L. M., J. Davison, E. A. Leger, W. W. Miller, E. M. Goergen, E. K. Espeland, E. M. Carroll-Moore. 2014. Grasses for biofuels: A low water-use alternative for cold desert agriculture? Biomass and Bioenergy 66:133-142.

Porensky, L. M., E. A. Leger, J. Davison, W. W. Miller, E. M. Goergen, E. K. Espeland, and E. M. Carroll-Moore. 2014. Arid shrubland restoration: native perennial grasses suppress weeds and erosion, but also suppress native shrubs. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 184:135-144.

Porensky, L. M., S. E. Wittman, C. Riginos, and T. P. Young. 2013. Herbivory and drought interact to enhance diversity and spatial patterning in a savanna understory. Oecologia 173:591-602.

Porensky, L. M., S. F. Bucher, K. E. Veblen, A. C. Treydte, and T. P. Young. 2013. Large herbivores alter edge effects around ecosystem hotspots in an African savanna. Journal of Arid Environments 96:55-63.

Porensky, L. M., and T. P. Young. 2013. Edge interactions in fragmented and patchy landscapes. Conservation Biology 27:509-519.

Donihue, C. M., L. M. Porensky, J. Foufopoulus, C. Riginos, and R.M. Pringle. 2013. Glade cascades: indirect legacy effects of pastoralism enhance the abundance and spatial structuring of arboreal fauna. Ecology 94:827-837.

Blickley, J. L., K. Deiner, K. Garbach, I. Lacher, M. H. Meek, L. M. Porensky, M. L. Wilkerson, E. M. Winford, and M.W. Schwartz. 2013. A graduate student's guide to necessary skill sets for non-academic conservation careers. Conservation Biology 27:24-34.

Riginos, C., L. M. Porensky, K. E. Veblen, W. O. Odadi, R. L. Sensenig, D. Kimuyu, F. Keesing, M. L. Wilkerson, and T. P. Young. 2012. Lessons on the relationship between pastoralism and biodiversity from the Kenya Long-term Exclosure Experiment (KLEE).  Pastoralism: Research, Policy and Practice 2:10.

Porensky, L. M., K. J. Vaughn, and T. P. Young. 2012. Can initial intraspecific spatial aggregation increase multi-year coexistence by creating temporal priority? Ecological Applications 22:927-936.

Pearse, I. S., L. M. Porensky, L. H. Yang, M. L. Stanton, R. Karban, L. Bhattacharyya, R. Cox, K. Dove, A. Higgins, C. Kamoroff, T. Kirk, C. Knight, R. Koch, C. Parker, H. Rollins, and K. Tanner. 2012. Complex consequences of herbivory and interplant cues in three annual plants. PLoS ONE 7: e38105.

Porensky, L. M., and K. E. Veblen. 2012. Grasses and browsers reinforce landscape heterogeneity by excluding trees from ecosystem hotspots. Oecologia 168:749-759.

Steinberg, P.D., M.T. Brett, J.S. Bechtold, J.E. Richey, L.M. Porensky, and S.N. Osborne. 2011. The influence of watershed characteristics on nitrogen export to Hood Canal, Washington, USA. Biogeochemistry 106:415-433.

Porensky, L. M. 2011. When edges meet: interacting edge effects in an African savanna.Journal of Ecology 99:923-934.

Porensky, L. M., C. Riginos, J. Balachowski, and Jayne Belnap. 2011. Guide to Boma Monitoring. Available Online:  

Vaughn, K., L. Porensky, M. Wilkerson, J. Balachowski, E. Peffer, C. Riginos, and T. Young. 2010. Restoration Ecology. Nature Education Knowledge 1:51.

Kinyua, D. M., L. E. McGeoch, N. Georgiadis, and T. P. Young. 2010. Short- term and long-term effects of tilling, fertilization, and seeding on the restoration of a tropical rangeland. Restoration Ecology 18S1:226-233.

McGeoch, L., I. Gordon, and J. Schmitt. 2008. Impacts of land use, anthropogenic disturbance, and harvesting on an African medicinal liana. Biological Conservation 141:2218-2229.