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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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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

  • How do fire, grazing, and restoration impact annual brome invasion and wildlife conservation in the northern Great Plains?
  • Can we use field-based data and high resolution remote sensing to enhance current state-and-transition models for complex ecosystems located in the Great Basin--Great Plains ecotone?
  • Can native greenstrips or targeted grazing be used to break the cheatgrass-fire feedback cycle in the Great Basin?

 Thunder Basin Project


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.


Last Modified: 7/21/2017
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