T. Michael Anderson

Assistant Professor of Biology

B.S. Zoology, Oregon State University (1997)
Ph.D. Biology, Syracuse University (2004)
206 Winston Hall

(336) 758-5974

Areas of Interest

Savanna & Grassland Ecology, Plant Ecology, Large Herbivore Ecology, Biodiversity and Ecosystem Function, Biogeochemistry, Phylogenetic Community Assembly

Lab website: http://www.wfu.me/andersonlab/


My research focuses on the ecology and conservation of grassland and savannas ecosystems. In particular, I am interested in understanding the unique co-evolution that has occurred between plants and large herbivores in African savannas and the consequences of these interactions for ecosystem processes across large scales. The majority of my research is conducted in the Serengeti Ecosystem of East Africa, one of the last remaining fully functional grazing ecosystems, home to earth’s largest free-ranging ungulate herds and one of the best studied ecosystems in the paleotropics.

Recent and current projects include: (1) multivariate investigations of how landscape features, plant forage quality and risk of predation interact to determine the spatial distribution of large herbivore resident habitats; (2) understanding how phylogenetic relatedness among plant species contributes to the assembly of communities across ecological gradients; (3) seeking an understanding of factors that maintain savanna heterogeneity and plant species diversity across spatial scales; (4) investigations of the effects of plants and herbivores on nutrient cycling; (5) understanding the factors that determine the dynamics and stability of tree-grass coexistence in savannas across continents.

Selected Publications

TM Anderson, J Bukombe, and K Metzger. 2012. Spatial and temporal drivers of plant structure and diversity in Serengeti grasslands. In press, Serengeti IV,A.R.E. Sinclair (ed.), Chicago University Press.

EO Folmer, M van der Geest, E Jansen, JA van Gils, TM Anderson, T Piersma,and H Olff. 2012. Seagrass ­ sediment feedbacks: exploring the use of a non-recursive structural equation model. Ecosystems 15:1380-1393

A Risch, TM Anderson, and M Schütz. Soil CO2 emissions associated with termitaria in tropical savanna: Evidence for hot-spot compensation. Ecosystems 15:1147-1157.

F van der Plas, TM Anderson, and H Olff. 2012. Trait similarity patterns within grass and grasshopper communities: multitrophic community assembly at work. Ecology 93:836-846.

TM Anderson. 2012. Plant-Animal Interactions. Berkshire Encyclopedia, Vol 5: Ecosystem Management and Sustainability.

Grace et al. 2012 Response to Comments on “Productivity is a poor predictor of plant species richness”: towards a multivariate representation of the multiple mechanisms controlling productivity and diversity. Science 335: 1441

TM Anderson, M Schütz, and AC Risch. 2012. Seed germination cues and the importance of the soil seed bank across an environmental gradient in the Serengeti. Oikos 121:306-312.

JGC Hopcraft, TM Anderson, SP Vila, EP Mayemba, and H Olff. 2012. Body size and the division of niche space: Food and predation differentially shape the distribution of Serengeti grazers. Journal of Animal Ecology 81:201-213.

EB Baskerville, AP Dobson, T Bedford, S Allesina, TM Anderson, and M Pascual. 2011. Spatial guilds in the Serengeti food web revealed by a Bayesian group model. PLoS Computational Biology 7(12):e1002321.

Adler et al. 2011. Productivity is a poor predictor of plant species richness. Science 333:1750-1753.

R Buitenwerf, N Stevens, CM Gosling, TM Anderson, and H Olff. 2011. Interactions between large herbivores and litter removal by termites across a rainfall gradient in a South African savanna. Journal of Tropical Ecology 27:375-382.

TM Anderson, J Shaw, and H Olff. 2011. Ecology’s cruel dilemma, phylogenetic trait evolution and the assembly of Serengeti plant communities. Journal of Ecology 99:797-806.

J Ratnam, W Bond, R Fensham, W Hoffmann, S Archibald, C Lehmann, S Higgins, TM Anderson, and M Sankaran. 2011. When is a “forest” a savanna, and why does it matter? Global Ecology and Biogeography 20:653-660.

TM Anderson. 2010. Community Ecology: Top-down turned upside down. Current Biology 20:R854-R855

AP Dobson, M Borner, ARE Sinclair, PJ Hudson, TM Anderson, et al. 2010. Road will ruin Serengeti. Nature 467:272-273.

Anderson, T.M., J.G.C. Hopcraft, S.L. Eby, M.E. Ritchie, J.B. Grace and H. Olff. 2010. Landscape-scale analyses suggest both nutrient and anti-predator advantages to Serengeti herbivore hotspots. Ecology 91:1519-1529.

JB Grace, TM Anderson, H Olff, and S Scheiner. 2010. On the specification of structural equation models for ecological systems. Ecological Monographs 80:67-87.

DN Reed, TM Anderson, J Dempewolf, KL Metzger, and S Serneels. 2009. The spatial distribution of vegetation types in the Serengeti ecosystem: the influence of rainfall and topographic relief on vegetation patch characteristics. The Journal of Biogeography 36:770-782.

M Sankaran and TM Anderson. 2009. Management and restoration in African savannas: interactions and feedbacks. Pages 136-155 in R. Hobbs and K. Suding (eds) New Models for Ecosystem Dynamics. Island Press, Washington.

TM Anderson, J Dempewolf, KL Metzger, DN Reed, and S Serneels. 2008. Generation and maintenance of heterogeneity in the Serengeti ecosystem. Pages 135-182 in A.R.E. Sinclair, C. Packer, S.A.R. Mduma and J.M. Fryxell (eds) Serengeti III: Human Impacts on Ecosystem Dynamics. Univ. of Chicago Press, Chicago.

TM Anderson. 2008. Plant compositional change over time increases with rainfall in Serengeti grasslands. Oikos 117:675-682.