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Scott Collins

Professor, Joint Appointment, University of New Mexico


2016-        Distinguished Professor, University of New Mexico

2012-        Regents’ Professor, University of New Mexico

2012-17    Loren Potter Chair of Plant Ecology, Department of Biology, UNM

2003-14    Principal Investigator, Sevilleta LTER Program

2003-        Professor of Biology, University of New Mexico

2003-        Professor, School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University

1992-03    Program Director, National Science Foundation

1985-94    Assistant, Associate Professor, University of Oklahoma

1984         Postdoctoral Fellow, Rutgers University

1981-83    Visiting Assistant Professor, University of Oklahoma


  • Ph.D. Botany, University of Oklahoma 1981
  • M.S. Botany, Miami University 1977
  • B.A. Biology, Wittenberg University 1975

Google Scholar

Research Interests

Plant community dynamics, gradient models and gradient structure, the role of disturbance in communities, fire ecology, patch dynamics, grassland ecology, analysis of species distribution and abundance, local-regional interactions, productivity-diversity relationships, dynamics of aridland ecosystems, climate change impacts on aridland ecosystems.


Fernandes, V.M.C., N.M. Machado de Lima, D. Roush, J.A. Rudgers, S.L. Collins and F. Garcia-Pichel. 2018. Exposure to predicted precipitation patterns decrease population size and alter community structure of cyanobacteria in biological soil crusts from the Chihuahuan Desert. Environmental Microbiology 20: 259-269.

Rudgers, J.A., Y.A. Chung, G. Maurer, D.I. Moore, E. Muldavin, M. Litvak and S.L. Collins. 2018. Climate sensitivity functions and net primary production: A framework for incorporating climate mean and variability. Ecology 99: 576582.

Petrie, M.D., D.P.C. Peters, O.E. Sala, J. Yao, K.M. Havstad, J.D. Derner, L.A. Gherardi, N.D. Burruss, J.M. Blair, S.L. Collins, J.R. Hendrickson, M. Sanderson, P.J. Starks and J.L. Steiner. 2018. Regional grassland productivity responses to precipitation during multi-year above- and below-average rainfall periods. Global Change Biology 24: 19351951.

Collins, S.L., M.L. Avolio, C. Gries, L.M. Hallett, S.E. Koerner, K.J. La Pierre, A.L. Rypel, E.R. Sokol, S.B. Fey, D.B. Flynn, S.K. Jones, L.M. Ladwig, J. Ripplinger and M.B. Jones. 2018. Temporal heterogeneity increases with spatial heterogeneity in ecological communities. Ecology 99: 858-865.

Ochoa-Hueso, R., S.L. Collins, M. Delgado-Baquerizo, K. Hamonts, W.T. Pockman, R.L. Sinsabaugh, M.D. Smith, A.K. Knapp and S.A. Power. 2018. Drought consistently alters the composition of soil fungal and bacterial communities in grasslands from two continents. Global Change Biology 24: 28182827.

Griffin-Nolan, R.J., E.M. Denton, M.K. Johnson, C.J.W. Carroll, S.L. Collins, M.D. Smith and A.K. Knapp. 2018. Legacy effects of a regional drought on aboveground net primary production in six central US grasslands. Plant Ecology 219: 505-515.

Hodapp, D., E.T. Borer, W.S. Harpole, E.M. Lind, E.W. Seabloom, P.B. Adler, J. Alberti, C.A. Arnillas, J.D. Bakker, L. Biederman, M. Cadotte, E.E. Cleland, S.L. Collins, P.A. Fay, J. Firn, N. Hagenah, Y. Hautier, O. Iribarne, J.M.H. Knops, R.L. McCulley, A. MacDougall,  J.L. Moore, J. Morgan, B. Mortensen, K.J. La Pierre, A.C. Risch, M. Schütz, P. Peri, C.J. Stevens, J. Wright, and H. Hillebrand. 2018. Spatial heterogeneity in species composition constrains plant community responses to herbivory and fertilisation. Ecology Letters 21: 1364-1371.

Koerner, S.E., M.D. Smith, D.E. Burkepile, N. Hanan, M.L. Avolio, S.L. Collins, A.K. Knapp, N.P. Lemoine, E.J. Forrestel, S. Eby, D.I. Thompson, G. Aguado-Santacruz, J.P. Anderson, M. Anderson, A. Angassa, S. Bagchi, E.S. Bakker, G. Bastin, L.E. Baur, K.H. Beard, E.A. Beever, P.J. Bohlen, E.H. Boughton, D. Canestro, A. Cesa, E. Chaneton, J. Cheng, C.M. D'Antonio, C. Deleglise, F. Dembélé, J. Dorrough, D. Eldridge, B. Fernandez-Going, S. Fernández-Lugo, L.H. Fraser, B. Freedman, G. Garcia-Salgado, J.R. Goheen, L. Guo, S. Husheer, M. Karembé, J.M.H. Knops, T. Kraaij, A. Kulmatiski, M. Kytöviita, F. Lezama, G. Loucougaray, A. Loydi, D.G. Milchunas, S. Milton, J.W. Morgan, C. Moxham, K.C. Nehring, H.Olff, T. M. Palmer, S. Rebollo, C. Riginos, A.C. Risch, M. Rueda, M. Sankaran,, T. Sasaki, K. Schoenecker, N.L. Schultz, M. Schütz, A. Schwabe, F. Siebert, C. Smit, K.A. Stahlheber, C. Storm, D.J. Strong, J. Su, Y.V. Tiruvaimozhi, C. Tyler, J. Val, M.L. Vandegehuchte,, K.E. Veblen, L.T. Vermeire, D. Ward, J. Wu, T.P. Young,, Q. Yu, T.J. Zelikova. 2018. Resolving variation in herbivore effects on plant biodiversity – change in dominance as a global mechanism. Nature Ecology and Evolution 2: 1925-1932.

Suazo, M.M., S.L. Collins, R.R. Parmenter and E. Muldavin. 2018. Montane valley grasslands are highly resistant to wildfire. Journal of Vegetation Science: 29: 1017-1028.

Whitney, K.D., J. Mudge, D.O. Natvig, J.A. Rudgers, A. Sundararajan, W.T. Pockman, J. Bell and S.L. Collins. 2019. Experimental drought reduces genetic diversity in the grassland foundation species Bouteloua eriopoda. Oecologia 189: 1107-1120.

Yu, K., P. D’Odorico, S.L. Collins, D. Carr, A. Porporato, W.R.L. Anderegg, W.P. Gilhooly III, L. Wang, A. Bhattachan, M. Bartlett, S. Hartzell, J. Yin, Y. He, W. Li, M. Tatlhego and J.D. Fuentes. 2019. The competitive advantage of a constitutive CAM species over a C4 grass species under drought and CO2 enrichment. Ecosphere 10: e02721. 10.1002/ecs2.2721.

Clark, C.M., S. M. Simkin, E.B. Allen, W.D. Bowman, J. Belnap, M.L. Brooks, S. L Collins, L. H. Geiser, F.S. Gilliam, S.E. Jovan, L.H. Pardo, B.K. Schulz, C.J Stevens, K.N. Suding, H.L. Throop and D.M. Waller. 2019. Potential vulnerability of 348 herbaceous species to atmospheric deposition of nitrogen and sulfur in the U.S. Nature Plants 5: 697-705.

Ratajczak, Z., A.C. Churchill, L.M. Ladwig, J.H. Taylor and S.L. Collins. 2019. The combined effects of an extreme heatwave and wildfire on tallgrass prairie vegetation. Journal of Vegetation Science 30: 687–697.

Noble, J.D., S.L. Collins, A.J. Hallmark, K. Maldonado, B.O. Wolf and S.D. Newsome. 2019. Foraging strategies of individual silky pocket mice over a boom-bust cycle in a stochastic dryland ecosystem. Oecologia 190: 569-578.

Remy, C.C., D.J. Krofcheck, A.L. Keyser, M.E. Litvak, S.L. Collins and M.D. Hurteau. 2019. Integrating species-specific information in models improves regional projections under climate change. Geophysical Research Letters 46: 6554-6562

Chung, Y.A., S.L. Collins and J.A. Rudgers. 2019. Connecting plantsoil feedbacks to long-term stability in a desert grassland. Ecology 100: e02756. 10.1002/ecy.2756.

Corman, J, S.L. Collins, E. Cook, X. Dong, L.A. Gherardi, N.B. Grimm, R.L. Hale, T. Lin, J. Ramos, L.G. Reichmann and O.E. Sala. 2019. Foundations and frontiers of ecosystem science: Legacy of a classic paper (Odum 1969). Ecosystems 22: 1160-1172.

Griffin-Nolan, R.J., D.M. Blumenthal, S.L. Collins, T.E. Farcas, A.M. Hoffman, K.E. Mueller, T.W. Ocheltree, M.D. Smith, K.D. Whitney and A.K. Knapp. 2019. Shifts in plant functional composition following long-term drought in grasslands. Journal of Ecology 107: 2133–2148.

Komatsu, K.J., M.L. Avolio, N.P. Lemoine, F. Isbell, E. Grman, G.R. Houseman, S.E. Koerner, D.S. Johnson, K.R. Wilcox, J.M. Alatalo, J.P. Anderson, R. Aerts, S.G. Baer, A.H. Baldwin, J. Bates, C. Beierkuhnlein, R.T. Belote, J.M. Blair, J.M.G. Bloor, P.J. Bohlen, E.W. Bork, E.H. Boughton, W.D. Bowman, A.J. Britton, J.F. Cahill, Jr., E. Chaneton, N. Chiariello, J. Cheng, S.L. Collins, J.H.C. Cornelissen, G. Du, A. Eskelinen, J. Firn, B. Foster, L. Gough, K. Gross, L.M. Hallett, X. Han, H. Harmens, M.J. Hovenden, A. Jentsch, C. Kern, K. Klanderud, A.K. Knapp, J. Kreyling. W. Li, Y. Luo, R.L. McCulley, J.R. McLaren, J.P. Megonigal, J.W. Morgan, V. Onipchenko, S.C. Pennings, J.S. Prevéy, J. Price, P.B. Reich, C.H. Robinson, F.L. Russell, O.E. Sala, E.W. Seabloom, M.D. Smith, N.A. Soudzilovskaia, L. Souza, K.N. Suding, K.B. Suttle, T. Svejcar, D. Tilman, P. Tognetti, R. Turkington, Z. Xu, L. Yahdjian, Q. Yu, P. Zhang, Y. Zhang. 2019. Global changes systematically shift plant communities without driving local species loss. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 116: 17867-17873.

Ladwig, L.M., S.L. Collins, D. Krofcheck and W.T. Pockman. 2019. Minimal mortality and rapid recovery of the dominant shrub Larrea tridentata following an extreme cold event in the northern Chihuahuan Desert. Journal of Vegetation Science 30: 963-972.

Avolio, M.L., I. Carroll, S.L. Collins, G. Houseman, L.M. Hallett, F. Isbell, S.E. Koerner, K.J. La Pierre, M.D. Smith and K.R. Wilcox. 2019. A comprehensive approach to analyzing community dynamics using rank abundance curves. Ecosphere: In press.

Baer, S.G., T.J. Adams, D.A. Scott, J.M. Blair and S.L. Collins. 2019. Soil heterogeneity increases plant diversity after twenty years of manipulation during grassland restoration. Ecological Applications: In press.

Risch, A.C., S. Zimmerman, R. Ochoa-Hueso, M. Schütz, B. Frey, J.L. Firn, P.A. Fay, F. Hagedorn, E.T. Borer, E.W. Seabloom, W.S. Harpole, J.M.H. Knops, R.L. McCulley, A.D.D. Broadbent, C.J. Stevens, P.B. Adler, J.V.S. Báez, L.A. Biederman, J.M. Blair, C.S. Brown, M.C. Caldeira, S.L. Collins, P. Daleo, A. di Virgilio, A. Ebling, E. Esch, A. Eskelinen, S. Guesewell, N. Hagenah, Y. Hautier, K.P. Kirkman, A.S. MacDougall, J.L. Moore, S.A. Power, S.M. Prober, C. Roscher, M. Sankaran, M.L. Speziale, P.M. Tognetti, R. Virtanen, L. Yahdjian and B. Moser. 2019. Soil net nitrogen mineralization in global grasslands. Nature Communications: In press.

Research Activity

2018   The Sevilleta Meteorological Network: Enhancing and expanding technological infrastructure to assess climate variability in dryland ecosystems. NSF - $204,025 (9/1/2018-8/31/2020) PI: Renée Brown, CoPIs: Scott Collins, Don Natvig

2017     Quantifying the effects of species range shifts and management of post-fire recovery on regional carbon dynamics in a changing climate. USDA -$850,000 (7/1/2017-6/30/2020) PI: Matthew Hurteau, CoPIs: Marcy Litvak, Dan Krofchek, Scott Collins

2017     REU Site: Dynamics of aridland ecosystems in the northern Chihuahuan Desert. NSF - $298,462 (2/1/2017-1/31/2020) PI: Scott Collins, CoPI: Amaris Swann

2017     RAPID: Impact of exceptional drought on transformation of a South African savanna grassland. NSF - $70,439     (1/1/2017-12/31/2017) PI: Melinda Smith, CoPIs: Scott Collins, Alan Knapp, Sally Koerner, Deron Burkepile

2015    Collaborative Research: Parsing the effects of host specificity and geography on plant-fungal symbioses under climate change. NSF - $1,089,436 (UNM portion $406,128) (6/1/15-5/31/19); UNM PI: Jennifer Rudgers, CoPI: Scott Collins

2015      Sevilleta LTER V: Abiotic pulses and constraints: effects on dynamics    and stability in an aridland ecosystem. NSF - $1,960,000 (4/1/15- 3/31/18); PI: Will Pockman, CoPIs: Scott Collins, Cliff Dahm, Marcy Litvak, Kristin Vanderbilt        

2015     Interannual variability in net primary production. US Forest Service RMRS - $92,999 (1/1/15-12/31/19); PI: Scott Collins


Spring 2021
Course Number Course Title
BIO 591 Seminar
Spring 2020
Course Number Course Title
BIO 591 Seminar
Fall 2019
Course Number Course Title
BIO 320 Fundamentals of Ecology
Spring 2019
Course Number Course Title
BIO 591 Seminar
Spring 2018
Course Number Course Title
BIO 591 Seminar
Spring 2017
Course Number Course Title
BIO 423 Population & Community Ecology
BIO 591 Seminar
BIO 598 Special Topics


Distinguished Professor, University of New Mexico 2016-

Regents' Professor, University of New Mexico 2012-2016

President, Ecological Society of America 2012-2013

Vice President for Public Affairs, Ecological Soceity of America 2014-2015

Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science 2012

Fellow, Ecological Society of America 2016

President, Association of Ecosystem Research Centers 2005


Editor-in-Chief, BioScience 2016-

Editorial Board Member, BioScience 1998-

Editorial Board Member, Oecologia 2008-2016

Editorial Board Member, Ecosphere 2012-2016

Editorial Board Member, Journal of Ecology 2005-2008

Associate Editor, Journal of Vegetation Science 1992-1996

Expertise Areas