Research Interests

I am a theoretical and quantitative ecologist with broad interests in applying the tools of mathematics to understanding plant ecology and evolution.  My main research interest is in understanding the role of spatial and temporal variation in determining plant community structure. However,as a quantitative ecologist, I get the opportunity to work on many different systems. I am currently working on systems that  include temperate grasslands, soil microbes, coastal wetlands and northeastern forests.

One line of my current research focuses on how variation in soil resources influences species diversity and composition, particularly in grasslands. I am working with Kay Gross analyzing two large field experiments in native grassland in SW Michigan where we are manipulating the spatial pattern and scale of soil resource heterogeneity to see how this influences local plant diversity.

I am also working with collaborators at the National Park Service to develop the theoretical foundations of bioassesssment based on causal network theory. We are using those insights to inform new bioassessment tools that are being applied to wetlands and forests in  the National Park System.

I am working with a team at USGS to develop models to assess the vulnerability of coastal wetlands along the Atlantic to sea-level rise.

Finally, I am actively working to generalize the framework of Structural Equation Modeling to allow for non-linear and non-gaussian responses.

Selected Publications

Schoolmaster Jr., D.R., Mittelbach, G.G. and Gross,K.L. 2014. Resource competition and community response to fertilization: the outcome depends on spatial strategies. Theoretical Ecology, 7:127-135

Schoolmaster Jr., D.R. 2013. Resource competition and coexistence in heterogeneous metacommunities: many-species coexistence is unlikely to be facilitated by spatial variation in resources. PeerJ, 1:e136

Schoolmaster Jr., D.R., Grace, J.B., Schweiger, E.W., Mitchell, B.R., and Guntenspergen, G.R. 2013. A causal examination of the effect of confounding factors on multimetric indices. Ecological Indicators, 29:411-419

Schoolmaster Jr., D.R., Grace, J.B., Schweiger, E.W., Guntenspergen, G.R., Mitchell, B.R., Miller,K.M. and Little, A.M. 2012. An algorithmic and information theoretic approach to multimetric index construction. Ecological Indicators, 26:14-23

*Grace, J.B., Schoolmaster Jr., D.R., Guntenspergen, G.R., Little, A.M., Mitchell, B.R., Miller,K.M. and Schweiger, E.W. 2012. Guidelines for a graph-theoretic implementation of structural equation modeling. Ecosphere, 3:1-44

Schoolmaster Jr. D.R., Grace, J.B and Schweiger, E.W. 2012. A general theory of multimetric indices and their properties. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 3:773-781

Lennon, J.T., Aanderud, Z.A., Lehmkuhl, B.K., Schoolmaster, D.R. 2012. Mapping the niche space of soil microorganisms using taxonomy and traits. Ecology, 93:1867-1879

Grman, E, Lau, J.A., Schoolmaster Jr., D.R. and Gross, K.L. 2010. Mechanisms contributing to stability in ecosystem function depend on environmental context. Ecology Letters, 13;1400-1410

Schoolmaster Jr., D.R. 2008. Recruitment limitation modifies probability of positive net effects of shared enemies on competitively inferior. Journal of Ecology, 96:114-121

*Schoolmaster Jr., D.R. and Snyder, R.E. 2007. Invasibility in a spatiotemporally fluctuating environment is determined by the periodicity of fluctuations and resident turnover rates. Proceedings of the Royal Society B., 274:1429-1435.

*Selected as a Faculty of 1000 Biology Paper