Text Box: Heather D. Alexander, Assistant Professor
Text Box: Alexander Plant and Ecosystem Ecology Lab, UTB

Heather D. Alexander

Assistant Professor

Department of Biological Sciences

University of Texas at Brownsville

80 Fort Brown Rd.

LHSB 2.810

Brownsville, TX 78520

(956) 882-7656


Contact information:

Research Summary

My research aims to develop a mechanistic understanding of how human activities restructure vegetation communities, and in turn, modify ecosystem-level processes. This information is crucial for predicting ecosystem response to an ever-changing environment and for guiding restoration and conservation activities aimed at sustaining vital environmental resources. My research is largely empirical, using manipulative field-based experimental studies and observational approaches across natural gradients.


My work to date has focused on several questions:


1. How do climate-driven changes to the natural fire regime influence successional dynamics and carbon (C) pools within boreal forests?

2. How has fire suppression altered the regeneration capacity of eastern deciduous forests and ecosystem processes such as forest hydrology, nutrient cycling, and decomposition?

3. How have river diversions and damming changed soil properties and vegetation dynamics in downstream coastal salt marshes?

4. How can herbicides aimed at invasive grasses, herbivore exclosures, and seedling protective tubes improve restoration of thornscrub communities?

5. How can fire, mechanical treatments, and invasive grass herbicides decrease woody shrub proliferation and increase cover of native coastal prairie grasses within south Texas?

Text Box: The University of Texas at Brownsville


Berner, L. T., Beck, P. S. A., Loranty, M. M., Alexander, H. D., Mack, M. C., Goetz, S. J. 2012.

Cajander larch (Larix cajanderi) biomass distribution, fire regime and post-fire recovery in northeastern Siberia. Biogeosciences 9: 3943 - 3959.

Alexander, H. D., Mack, M. C., Goetz, S., Beck, P. S. A, and Belshe, F. 2012. Implications of increased

deciduous cover on stand structure and aboveground carbon pools of Alaskan boreal forests.

Ecosphere 3(5):45.

Alexander, H. D., Mack, M. C., Goetz, S., Beck, P. S. A., Loranty, M, Earl, K, Zimov, S.,

Davydov, S., and Thompson, C. C. 2012. Carbon accumulation patterns during post-fire succession in Cajander larch (Larix cajanderi) forests of Siberia. Ecosystems. DOI: 10.1007/s10021-012-9567-6.

Arthur, M. A., Alexander, H. D., Dey, D., Schweitzer, C. J., and Loftis, D. L., 2012. Refining the oak-

fire hypothesis for management of oak-dominated forests of the eastern United States. Journal of Forestry 110(5): 257 266.

Beck, P. S. A., Goetz, S. Mack, M. C., Alexander, H. D., Yufang, J., Randerson, J. T., and

Loranty, M. 2011. The impacts and implications of an intensifying fire regime on boreal forest composition and albedo. Global Change Biology 17: 2853 2866.

Alexander, H. D. and M. A. Arthur. 2010. Implications of a predicted shift from upland oaks to

red maple on forest hydrology and nutrient availability. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 40(4): 716 726.

Alexander, H. D. and M. A. Arthur. 2009. Foliar morphology and chemistry of upland oaks, red

maple, and sassafras seedlings in response to single and repeated prescribed fires. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 39: 740 754.

Forbes, M., H. D. Alexander, and K. H. Dunton. 2008. The effects of pulsed riverine versus

non-pulsed wastewater inputs of freshwater on plant community structure in a semi-arid salt marsh. Wetlands 28(4): 984 994.

Alexander, H. D., M. A. Arthur, D. L. Loftis, and S. R. Green. 2008. Survival and growth of

upland oak and co-occurring competitor seedlings following single and repeated prescribed fires. Forest Ecology and Management 256: 1021 1030.

Alexander, H. D. and K. H. Dunton. 2006. Wastewater effluent as an alternative freshwater

source in a hypersaline salt marsh: Impacts on salinity, inorganic nitrogen, and emergent vegetation. Journal of Coastal Research 22(2): 377 392.

Alexander, H. D. and K. H. Dunton. 2002. Freshwater inundation effects on emergent

vegetation of a hypersaline salt marsh. Estuaries 25(6B): 1426 1435.