Lesley Morris: Historical Ecology in Rangelands (HEIR) Lab

Lesley MorrisTitle

Historical Ecology in Rangelands (HEIR) Lab


Lesley R. Morris


Agriculture, Veterinary & Rangeland Science


Lesley Morris, Ph.D., is an associate professor of rangeland ecology and management. Morris specializes in historical ecology, which employs both archival and biological methods to determine how ecosystems change over time, including in response to management. Her most current research centers on how land-use legacies from historical cultivation and rangeland re-seeding projects affect plant communities, invasion by exotic plant species (particularly Ventenata dubia), soils, wildlife habitat, natural succession and restoration efforts. Her previous work has shown these land uses can alter rangeland vegetation and soils for nearly a century in the Great Basin.

Project overview

Historical ecology is a field of scientific study that uses information from both the biological (e.g., soils, tree rings, pollen) and human archive (e.g., old photos, maps, and oral history) to understand how landscapes change over time. In the HEIR Lab, our work includes documenting cultivation legacies, resurveying old vegetation plots, studying long-term impacts of prescribed fire, and evaluating historical rangeland seedings (e.g., crested wheatgrass and forage kochia). Working with the HEIR Lab means getting to experience truly interdisciplinary research where you could be working with plants in the greenhouse one day, finding old records in the archives the next, and working with seeds of an invasive plant by the end of the week. All of this helps us understand how our past has influenced what is possible on rangelands in the future.

Pack Research Experience Program information and application