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ARS Home » Plains Area » Sidney, Montana » Northern Plains Agricultural Research Laboratory » Pest Management Research » People » Zachary Sylvain

Zachary Adam Sylvain

Post Doc (Research Associate)


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Phone: 406.433.9496
Fax: 406.433.5038 

EducationCurrent Research • Research Experience • Publications •



Additional Pages:  Research Project,*  

*Taken from the Agricultural Research Information System (ARIS) database.






   Ph.D. Ecology Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO
   M.Sc. Entomology McGill University, Montreal, Canada
   B.Sc. Biology McGill University, Montreal, Canada





I study how plant, insect and soil communities interact with one another and their environment to drive ecosystem responses to disturbance. I am currently leading a project assessing the success of restoration following energy development in rangeland landscapes, focusing on recovery rates for plant and animal communities and their associated functioning. Our goal is to better understand reclamation processes in order to improve restoration successes and the productivity of rangeland ecosystems.




Before I joined the USDA-ARS, I was a visiting postdoctoral scientist with the Canadian Forest Service in Fredericton, New Brunswick. While in Fredericton, I studied how outbreaks of spruce budworm (a forest defoliator) influence mite and nematode communities in forest soils and the potential for willows to help restore soil community functioning during coal mine restoration. My graduate work examined how mite and nematode communities respond to soil water availability by using experimental precipitation manipulations along a continental/global-scale precipitation gradient.





In review and preparation

  • Espeland, EK and Sylvain, ZA. (Submitted to Rangeland Ecology & Management). Landscape penetration and impact describe plant species distributions and invasion in undeveloped grasslands of western North Dakota.

  • Sylvain, ZA and Mosseler, A (Submitted to Canadian Journal of Forest Research) Use of shrub willows (Salix spp.) to develop soil communities during coal mine restoration.

  • Sylvain, ZA, Moise, E, and Johns, R (in preparation) Cascading herbivory effects drive shifts in both aboveground and belowground plant-consumer interactions

  • Sylvain, ZA, Branson, DH, Rand, TA, West, NM and Espeland, EK (In preparation) Decoupled recovery of ecosystem functions after restoration


Refereed Journal Articles

  • Vandegehuchte, ML, Sylvain, ZA, Reichmann, LG, de Tomasel, CM, Nielsen, UN, Wall, DH and Sala, OE. (2015) Responses of a desert nematode community to changes in water availability. Ecosphere 6, 44.

  • Garcia-Palacios, P, Vandegehuchte, ML, Shaw, EA, Dam, M, Post, KH, Ramirez, KS, Sylvain, ZA, de Tomasel, CM and Wall, DH. (2015) Are there links between responses of soil microbes and ecosystem functioning to elevated CO2, N deposition and warming? A global perspective. Global Change Biology 21, 1590-1600.

  • Sylvain, ZA, Wall, DH, Cherwin, KL, Peters, DPC, Reichmann, LG and Sala, OE. (2014) Soil animal responses to moisture availability are largely scale, not ecosystem dependent: Insight from a cross-site study. Global Change Biology 20, 2631-2643.

  • Cotrufo, MF, Nguyen, T, Soong, J, Vandegehuchte, ML, Denef, K, Nielsen, UN, Shaw, EA, Sylvain, ZA, de Tomasel, CM, and Wall, DH. (2014) Naphthalene addition to soil surfaces: An effective method to suppress soil micro-arthropods with negligible direct effects on soil C dynamics. Applied Soil Ecology 74, 21-29.

  • Sylvain, ZA and Wall, DH. (2011) Linking soil biodiversity and vegetation: Implications for a changing planet. American Journal of Botany 98, 517-527. (invited)

  • Sylvain, ZA and Buddle, CM. (2010) Effects of forest stand type on oribatid mite (Acari: Oribatida) assemblages in a southwestern Quebec forest. Pedobiologia 53, 321-325.

  • Saint-Germain, M, Buddle, CM, Larrivée, M, Mercado, A, Motchula, T, Reichert, E, Sackett, TE, Sylvain, Z and Webb, A. (2007) Should biomass be considered as a currency in terrestrial arthropod community analyses?  Journal of Applied Ecology 44, 330-339.


Other Publications

  • Martel, V, Johns, RC, Eveleigh, E, McCann, K, Pureswaran, D, Sylvain, ZA, Morrison, A, Morin, B, Owens, E and Hebert, C (2015) Landscape level impacts of EIS on SBW, other herbivores and associated natural enemies (ACOA RD100 2.2.2). Proceedings: Spray Efficacy Research Group Workshop, Sault St. Marie, ON, Canada

  • Pureswaran, D, Johns, RC, Royer, L, De Grandpre, L, Bourassa, S, Carleton, D, Moise, E, Sylvain, ZA, Gray, D, Vepakomma, U, Kneeshaw, D and James, P (2015) Epicentre formation and migratory behavior of adult spruce budworm in eastern Canada: Implications for the rise and spread of outbreaks and Early Intervention Strategy (ACOA RD100 2.2.5). Proceedings: Spray Efficacy Research Group Workshop, Sault St. Marie, ON, Canada



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