Alexandra K. Urza
920 Valley Road
Contact Alexandra K. Urza
I am a Research Ecologist with the Maintaining Resilient Dryland Ecosystems Science Program (Unit 4255) of the Rocky Mountain Research Station. I am a plant ecologist whose research has focused on the ecology of arid and semi-arid ecosystems of the western United States. My research uses observational, experimental, and modeling approaches to study plant community responses to fire, invasive species, climate change, and management treatments. Current research projects include examining the environmental drivers of post-fire sagebrush establishment, a common garden study of drought-resistant seedling traits in pinyon pine, and a regional-scale analysis of indicators of ecological resilience in the sagebrush biome.
I am interested in plant community responses to disturbance, effects of climate variability on seedling establishment, biotic interactions, drivers of species invasions, and the ecological effects of management treatments. Much of my work considers how these processes vary across the landscape in relation to environmental heterogeneity. I work primarily in cold desert shrublands and woodlands.
My past research includes multi-scale drivers of vegetation dynamics at the woodland-shrubland interface in the Great Basin, climate effects on post-fire mixed conifer forest recovery in the Northern Rockies, and aspen responses to management efforts in Wyoming.
Why This Research is Important
Dryland ecosystems of the western US are facing many threats, including warming temperatures, increasing fire, and widespread invasions by non-native species. Anticipating ecosystem responses to environmental change, and designing appropriate management interventions, requires an understanding of the underlying ecological processes and how these vary across the landscape.
- University of Nevada-Reno, Ph.D. Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology 2018
- Colorado State University, M.S. Ecology 2012
- Reed College, B.A. International Policy Studies 2006
- Research Ecologist, US Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Reno, NV
2020 - Current
- Postdoctoral Research Ecologist, US Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station
2018 - 2020
- Natural Resource Specialist, Bureau of Land Management, Cedarville, CA
2012 - 2014
- Contracted Research Ecologist, US Geological Survey, Ft. Collins, CO
2011 - 2012
Featured Publications & Products
- McMahon, Devin E.; Urza, Alexandra K.; Brown, Jessi L.; Phelan, Conor ; Chambers, Jeanne C. 2021. Modelling species distributions and environmental suitability highlights risk of plant invasions in western United States.
- Urza, Alexandra K.; Weisberg, Peter J.; Dilts, Thomas . 2020. Evidence of widespread topoclimatic limitation for lower treelines of the Intermountain West, United States.
- Bisbing, Sarah M.; Urza, Alexandra K.; Buma, Brian J.; Cooper, David J.; Matocq, Marjorie ; Angert, Amy L. 2020. Can long-lived species keep pace with climate change Evidence of local persistence potential in a widespread conifer.
- Urza, Alexandra K.; Weisberg, Peter J.; Chambers, Jeanne C.; Board, David ; Flake, Samuel W. 2019. Seeding native species increases resistance to annual grass invasion following prescribed burning of semiarid woodlands.
- Urza, Alexandra K.; Weisberg, Peter J.; Chambers, Jeanne C.; Sullivan, Benjamin W. 2019. Shrub facilitation of tree establishment varies with ontogenetic stage across environmental gradients.
- Urza, Alexandra; Weisberg, Peter J.; Chambers, Jeanne C.; Dhaemers, Jessica M.; Board, David. 2017. Post-fire vegetation response at the woodland-shrubland interface is mediated by the pre-fire community.
- Freund, Stephanie M.; Newingham, Beth A.; Chambers, Jeanne C.; Urza, Alexandra K.; Roundy, Bruce A.; Cushman, J. Hall. 2021. Plant functional groups and species contribute to ecological resilience a decade after woodland expansion treatments.
- Putz, Tessa R.; Urza, Alexandra K.; Hankin, Lacey E.; Bisbing, Sarah M. 2021. Seasonal water availability drives trait variation in isolated Basin and Range Pinus ponderosa.
- Urza, Alexandra K. 2018. Vegetation dynamics at the woodland-shrubland interface: Role of climate, disturbance, and species interactions.
Citations of non US Forest Service Publications
- Urza, Alexandra K.; Sibold, Jason S. 2013. Non-destructive aging of postfire seedlings for four conifer species in northwestern Montana, USA. Western Journal of Applied Forestry 28: 22-29
- Urza, Alexandra K.; Sibold, Jason S. 2017. Climate and seed availability initiate alternate post-fire trajectories in a lower subalpine forest. Journal of Vegetation Science 28: 43-56
- Redmond, Miranda D.; Kelsey, K. C.; Urza, Alexandra K.; Barger N. N. 2017. Interacting effects of climate and landscape physiography on piñon pine growth using an individual-based approach. Ecosphere 8(3): e01681
- Urza, Alexandra K.; Weisberg, Peter J.; Chambers, Jeanne C.; Dhaemers, Jessica M.; Board, David. 2017. Post-fire vegetation response at the woodland-shrubland interface is mediated by the pre-fire community. Ecosphere 8(3): e01851
- Vitali, Alessandro; Urbinati, Carlo; Weisberg, Peter J.; Urza, Alexandra K.; Garbarino, Matteo. 2018. Effects of natural and anthropogenic drivers on land-cover change and treeline dynamics in the Apennines (Italy). Journal of Vegetation Science 29: 189-199