You can find most publications (and presentations) at Tim’s Google Scholar page. Peer-reviewed publications are listed below, followed by a very short summary of each publication. You can see a word cloud of the text from publication abstracts in the image adjacent to this paragraph, where words used more often are larger. The three studies most relevant to current work are in bold and press coverage is indicated with a *.

28) Dickson, T.L., B. Poynor, and C.J. Helzer. 2023. Cattle graze central USA milkweeds at least as much as grasses, even under patch-burn-grazing management. Rangeland Ecology and Management, 87:158-166.

Summary: Cattle are grazing the same percentage of stems of common and showy milkweed species as of big bluestem grass in the same field (as determined by repeatedly monitoring the same milkweed stems throughout the growing season), and this is not having any noticeable effect on cattle health.  This milkweed grazing appears to decrease common and milkweed abundance because adjacent ungrazed fields contain on average 74 fold (74x) as many common and showy milkweed stems as fields that have been grazed by cattle for at least the previous 10 years.

*CoolGreenScience (stories from The Nature Conservancy)

27) Daleo, P., J. Alberti, E.J. Chaneton, O. Iribarne, P.M. Tognetti, J.D. Bakker, E.T. Borer, M. Bruschetti, A.S. MacDougall, J. Pascual, M. Sankaran, E.W. Seabloom, S. Wang, S. Bagchi, L.A. Brudvig, J.A. Catford, C.R. Dickman, T.L. Dickson, … & Y. Hautier. (2023). Environmental heterogeneity modulates the effect of plant diversity on the spatial variability of grassland biomass. Nature Communications, 14:e1809.

Summary: Spatial variation in productivity data within Nutrient Network sites was affected by nutrient addition differently depending on the alpha-, beta-, and gamma-diversity within sites.

26) Zhu, L., T.L. Dickson, Z. Zhang, A. Dere, J. Xu, T.B. Bragg, W. Tapprich, and G. Lu. 2021. Effects of burning and mowing on the soil microbiome of restored tallgrass prairie. European Journal of Soil Science, 72:385-399.

Summary: We collected soil samples from the longest running burning and mowing study in North America, located at UNO.  We extracted DNA from soil samples to examine the 16S rRNA region for bacterial and archaeal communities and the internal transcribed spacer region for fungal communities.  Our findings show that both bacterial and fungal communities were different between burned and mowed prairie.

25) Borer, E.T., W.S. Harpole, P.B. Adler, C.A. Arnillas, M.N. Bugalho, M.W. Cadotte, M.C. Caldeira, S. Campana, C.R. Dickman, T.L. Dickson… & E.W. Seabloom 2020. Nutrients cause grassland biomass to outpace herbivory. Nature communications, 11:e6036.

Summary: The Nutrient Network data on nutrient addition and herbivore exclusion were used to determine whether herbivores consume the additional biomass produced after fertilization.  Results indicate that wild herbivores consume some additional biomass but only in rare situations, such as the presence of domesticated livestock, was all additional biomass consumed.

24) Dickson, T.L., B.A. Hayes, and T.B. Bragg. 2019. Effects of 34 Years of Experimentally Manipulated Burn Seasons and Frequencies on Prairie Plant Composition. Rangeland Ecology & Management 72:82-91.

Summary: Plant production is not significantly different between spring and autumn burning in ungrazed Nebraska tallgrass prairie, but composition is strongly affected with annual spring burns significantly increasing C4 grass abundance and annual autumn burns significantly increasing forb abundance.

23) Dickson, T.L. 2019. Burning and mowing similarly increase prairie plant production in the spring, but not due to increased soil temperatures. Ecosphere 10:e02606.

Summary: I measured the effects of spring, summer, and autumn burning and mowing on soil temperature and plant production during three periods of the growing season and found that autumn and spring burning and mowing similarly increased spring plant production, but only autumn and spring burning increased soil temperatures.

22) Catano, C.P., T.L. Dickson, and J.A. Myers. 2017. Dispersal and neutral sampling mediate contingent effects of disturbance on plant beta‐diversity: a meta‐analysis. Ecology Letters 20:347-356.

Summary: Disturbance increases beta-diversity when dispersal is limited but decreases beta-diversity when dispersal is increased via seed addition, and changes in beta-diversity due to treatments do not appear to be due to the identity of plant species.

21) Edens-Meier, R.M., G. Brown, J. Zweck, M. Arduser, J. Edens, T.L. Dickson, H. Nonnenmacher, E. Westhus, and P. Bernhardt. 2017. Reproductive ecology of Asclepias meadii Torr. ex A.Gray (Apocynaceae), a federally threatened species. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 144:218-229.

Summary: Bombus bees are the best observed pollinators at moving pollinaria between flowers of the self-incompatible Asclepias meadii, even though the nectar chemical composition of A. meadii does not appear well suited to Bombus bees.

20) Stahlheber, K.A., B. Watson, T.L. Dickson, R. Disney, and K.L. Gross. 2016. Balancing biofuel production and biodiversity: Harvesting frequency effects on production and community composition in planted tallgrass prairie. Biomass and Bioenergy 92:98-105.

Summary: Harvesting twice during a growing season (in summer and autumn) decreases biomass production in a low diversity prairie, as compared to a single autumn harvest, but does not affect biomass production in a high diversity prairie.

19) Dickson, T.L. and K.L. Gross. 2015. Can the results of biodiversity-ecosystem productivity studies be translated to bioenergy production? PloS ONE 10:e0135253.

Summary: Agriculturally realistic bioenergy plantings in southern Michigan do not produce more biomass with increased planting diversity, in part because seed cost limits seed density and therefore most species in high diversity plantings are seeded at low seed density, which limits their potential production.

18) Werling, B.P., T.L. Dickson, R. Isaacs, H. Gaines, C. Gratton, K.L. Gross, H. Liere, C.M. Malmstrom, T.D. Meehan, L. Ruan, B.A. Robertson, G.P. Robertson, T.M. Schmidt, A.C. Schrotenboer, T.K. Teal, J.K. Wilson, and D.A. Landis. 2014. Perennial grasslands enhance biodiversity and multiple ecosystem services in bioenergy landscapes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 111:1652-1657.

Summary: Switchgrass and prairie bioenergy plantings are able to support many more bird, bee, insect, plant, and soil microbial species than corn, and this added species diversity provides ecosystem services such as increased predation on agricultural pests and reduced methane output from soils.

*UNO press release

*Omaha Public Radio

*Nebraska Public Television

17) Dickson, T.L., G.G. Mittelbach, H.L. Reynolds, and K.L. Gross. 2014. Height and clonality traits determine plant community responses to fertilization. Ecology 95:2443–2452.

Summary: We experimentally removed clonal species and fertilized in a factorial design, and we found that tall clonal species severely reduce the abundance and richness of all other species whereas tall non-clonal species reduce abundance and richness of other species much less severely.

16) Hallett, L.M., J.S. Hsu, E.E. Cleland, S.L. Collins, T.L. Dickson, E.C. Farrer, L.A. Gherardi, K.L. Gross, R.J. Hobbs, L. Turnbull, and K.N. Suding. 2014. Biotic mechanisms of community stability shift along a precipitation gradient. Ecology 95: 1693-1700.

Summary: Surprisingly, the stability of grassland community composition (and total aboveground biomass production) was not directly related to mean annual precipitation nor the coefficient of variation of annual precipitation, but was instead indirectly related to these variable through their effects on species richness and covariance between species abundances.

15) Dickson, T.L. and K.L. Gross. 2013. Dynamics of plant community responses to long-term fertilization: Changes in functional group abundance drive changes in species richness. Oecologia 173:1513-1520.

Summary: Tall highly-clonal species increase in biomass after fertilization but cause the biomass of all other growth forms to decrease, thereby driving decreases in plant species richness.

14) Cleland, E.E., S.L. Collins, T.L. Dickson, E.C. Farrer, K.L. Gross, L.A. Gherardi, L.M. Hallett, R.J. Hobbs, J.S. Hsu, K.N. Suding, and L. Turnbull. 2013. Sensitivity of grassland plant community composition to spatial versus temporal variation in precipitation. Ecology 94:1687-1696.

Summary: Average turnover of species from year to year in grasslands is quite high (nearly 50% per year), and is especially high in sites with low mean annual precipitation and a high proportion of annual species.

13) Dickson, T.L., J.L. Hopwood, and B.J. Wilsey. 2012. Do priority effects benefit invasive plants more than native plants? An experiment with six grassland species. Biological Invasions 14: 2617-2624.

Summary: Invasive plants species produce much more biomass with a three week head start in germination than do native plants and strongly reduce diversity (lead to plant communities not significantly different from monoculture).

12) Dickson, T.L. and B.L. Foster. 2011. Fertilization decreases plant biodiversity even when light is not limiting. Ecology Letters 14: 380-388.

Summary: Shade limits plant species richness in wetter years but actually increases richness in drought years, and fertilization decreases richness in both wetter (light limiting) and drought (light not limiting) years.

11) Foster, B.L., E.J. Questad, C.D. Collins, C.A. Murphy, T.L. Dickson, and V.H. Smith. 2011. Seed availability constrains plant species sorting along a soil fertility gradient. Journal of Ecology 99: 473-481.

Summary: A larger species pool causes plant communities to diverge more in response to higher fertilization rates.

10) Dickson, T.L. and C.E. Mitchell. 2010. Herbivore and fungal pathogen exclusion affects the seed production of four common grassland species. PLoS ONE 5: e12022.

Summary: Insect removal doubles the seed production of the most common plant in the North American tallgrass prairie, Andropogon gerardii (big bluestem), by reducing consumption of flowers and seed embryos.

9) Dickson, T.L., B.J. Wilsey, R.R. Busby, and D.L. Gebhart. 2010. Melilotus officinalis (yellow sweetclover) causes large changes in community and ecosystem processes in both the presence and absence of a cover crop. Biological Invasions 12: 65-76.

Summary: The presence of the invasive plant, Melilotus officinalis (yellow sweetclover), strongly decreases plant diversity and causes a 5x increase in nitrogen in plant biomass.

8) Dickson, T.L. and W.H. Busby. 2009. Forb species establishment increases with decreased grass seeding density and with increased forb seeding density in a northeast Kansas, USA experimental prairie restoration. Restoration Ecology 17: 597-605.

Summary: Seeding lower rates of tall grasses into prairie restorations allows more forb species to establish and greatly increases forb abundance.

*Tallgrass Prairie Center Newsletter

7) Dickson, T.L. and B.J. Wilsey. 2009. Biodiversity and tallgrass prairie decomposition: the relative importance of species identity, evenness, richness, and micro-topography. Plant Ecology 201: 639-649.

Summary: Higher evenness of plant litter, but not higher richness, generally leads to greater decomposition, but environment and species identity play the largest roles in controlling litter decomposition rates.

6) Dickson, T.L. and B.L. Foster. 2008. The relative importance of the species pool, productivity, and disturbance in regulating grassland plant species richness: a field experiment. Journal of Ecology 96: 937-946.

Summary: Low productivity grasslands are open to new colonists and therefore dispersal and seed addition can increase plant richness, but high productivity grasslands are largely closed to new colonists and these sites must be disturbed if they are to be restored.

5) Dickson, T.L., B.J. Wilsey, R.R. Busby, and D.L. Gebhart. 2008. Plant composition alters vehicular disturbance effects in Kansas, USA. Environmental Management 41: 676-684.

Summary: Native prairie vegetation is more resistant to vehicular disturbance than is vegetation dominated by the introduced cool-season grass, Bromus inermis (smooth brome).

4) Foster, B.L. and T.L. Dickson. 2004. Grassland diversity and productivity: The interplay of resource availability and propagule pools. Ecology 85: 1541-1547.

Summary: Larger species pools increase plant species richness and biomass production; but these responses are contingent upon resource availability, with stronger effects of species pools in irrigated and disturbed sites.  

3) Foster, B.L., T.L. Dickson, C. Murphy, I.S. Karel, and V. Smith. 2004. Propagule pools mediate community assembly and diversity-ecosystem regulation along a grassland productivity gradient. Journal of Ecology 92: 435-449.

Summary: Along a topographic productivity gradient, larger species pools increase plant species richness much more at lower productivity.

2) Foster, B.L., V.H. Smith, T.L. Dickson, and T. Hildebrand. 2002. Invasibility and compositional stability in a grassland community: relationships to diversity and extrinsic factors. Oikos 99: 300-307.

Summary: High diversity sites are more open to new species (more invasible) than low diversity sites, but this relationship is due to both diversity and invasibility being driven by environmental factors rather than direct effects of diversity on invasibility.

1) Dickson, T.L., M. Swift, and H. Shierholz. 2000. A comparison of stream segment and quadrat mussel sampling techniques. BIOS 71: 42-49.

Summary: One square meter quadrats do not provide a good measure of mussel species richness and density under realistic replication, whereas spatially larger samples can provide good measures of these variables (Tim wrote this paper as an undergraduate).