Todd Dawson


Phone: (510) 642-6090
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Research Description

Research in my laboratory focuses on the interface between plants and their environment. The tools of physiological and evolutionary plant ecology and stable isotope biogeochemistry are currently being applied towards the study and interpretation of this interface. Investigations draw upon a variety of physiological methods, modeling and the use of stable isotopes as avenues for improving our understanding of how the ecophysiological characteristics of plants are shaped by and respond to the environments they inhabit. Projects pay special attention to how aspects of plant form and function combine to permit adaptation to environmental variation, whether naturally or anthropogenically imposed, and how plants and their unique traits influence the structure and function of the communities and ecosystems they compose.

Current research themes include (1) exploring how the ecological and physiological characteristics of plants influence community and ecosystem processes (e.g. how the water, carbon and nutrient relations of plants may influence ecosystem hydrology and biogeochemistry); (2) elucidating the functional evolution and origin of adaptations in plants particularly with regards to how tolerance to low soil nutrient status, periodic drought, or low light and disturbance arises and the importance of evolutionary history in the origins of these adaptations; and (3) examining at the fluxes and exchanges of materials such as carbon, water and nitrogen between organisms and their biotic and abiotic environments using novel stable isotope techniques, Such an approach is proving to be especially powerful in looking at the origin of CO2 from different ecosystems and the exchange of water and nitrogen between plants and their fungal symbionts (mycorrhiza & endophytes) or their neighbors. 

Selected Publications

Fisher, J.B., D.D. Baldocchi, L.Mission, T.E. Dawson and A.H. Goldstein. 2006.  What the towers don’t see at night: Nocturnal sapflow in trees and shrubs at two AmeriFlux sites in California. Tree Physiology (in press).

Dawson, T.E., S.O.O. Burgess, K.P. Tu, R.S. Oliveiria, J.B. Fisher, L. S. Santiago, K.S. Simonin and A.R. Ambrose.  2006. Nighttime transpiration in woody plants from contrasting ecosystems.Tree Physiology (in press).

Wenk, E.H. and T.E. Dawson.  2006.  Interspecific differences in seed germination, establishment, and early growth in relation to preferred soil type in an alpine community. Arctic, Antarctic and Alpine Research (in press).

Gregg, J.W., C.G. Jones and T.E. Dawson.  2006.  Physiological and developmental effects of ozone on cottonwood growth in urban and rural sites in the vicinity of New York City. Ecological Applications (in press).

Darrouzet-Nardi, A. C.M. D'Antonio and T.E. Dawson.  2006.  Depth of water acquisition by invading shrubs and resident herbs in a Sierra Nevada montane meadow. Plant and Soil (in press).

Burgess, S.O.O., J.A. Pitterman and T.E. Dawson.  2006.  Hydraulic efficiency and safety of branch xylem increases with height in Sequoia sempervirens (D. Don) crowns.  Plant, Cell & Environment 29: 229-239.

Lee, J-E, R.S. Oliveiria, T.E. Dawson, and I. Fung.  2005.  Root functioning modifies seasonal climate. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 102: 17576-17581.

Corbin, J.D., M.A. Thomsen, T.E. Dawson and C.M. D'Antonio. 2005.  Summer water use by California coastal prairie grasses: fog, drought, and community composition. Oecologia 145: 511-521.

Oliveiria, R.S., T.E. Dawson, S.O.O. Burgess and D.C. Nepstad.  2005. Hydraulic redistribution in three Amazonian tree species. Oecologia  145:  354-363.

Santiago, L.S., K. Silvera, J.L. Andrade and T.E. Dawson.  2005.  El uso de Isótopos Estables en Biología Tropical [English title: The use of stable isotope techniques in tropical biology]. Invited Review – Interciencia 30: 536-542.

Oliveiria, R.S., T.E. Dawson, S.O.O. Burgess. 2005.  Evidence for direct water absorption by pseudostems of the desiccation-tolerant plant Vellozia  flavicans in the savannas of central Brazil. Journal of Tropical Ecology  21: 585-588

Juenger, T.J., J.K. McKay, N.J. Hausmann, J. Keurentjes, S. Sen, K.A. Stowe, T.E. Dawson, E.L. Simms and J.R. Richards.  2005.  Identification and characterization of QTL underlying whole-plant physiology in Arabidopsis thaliana: d13C and stomatal conductance. Plant, Cell & Environment 28: 697-708.

Templer, P.H., G.M. Lovett, K. Weathers, S. Findlay, and T.E. Dawson.  2005.  Influences of tree species on 15N sinks and forest N retention in the Catskill Mountains, New York, USA.  Ecosystems 8: 1-16.

Tu, K.P. and T.E. Dawson.  2005.  Partitioning ecosystem respiration using stable carbon isotope analyses of CO2.  Pp. 125-153,  In: L.B. Flanagan, J.R, Ehleringer & D.E. Pataki (eds) Stable Isotopes and Biosphere-Atmosphere Interactions: Processes and Biological Controls. Elsevier Academic Press, San Diego, CA.

Hausmann, N.J., T.E. Juenger, S. Sen, K.A. Stowe, T.E. Dawson and E.L. Simms.  2005. Quantitative trait loci (QTL) affecting d13C and response to soil water availability in Arabidopsis thalianaEvolution 59: 81-96.

Kennedy, P.G., N.J. Hausmann, E.H. Wenk, and T.E. Dawson.  2004.  The importance of seed reserves for seedling performance: an integrated approach using morphological, physiological, and stable isotope techniques. Oecologia 141: 547-554.

Templer, P.H. and T.E. Dawson.  2004.  Nitrogen uptake by four tree species of the Catskill Mountains, New York: implications for forest N dynamics. Plant and Soil 262: 251-261.

Burgess, S.O.O. and T.E. Dawson.  2004.  The contribution of fog to the water relations of Sequoia sempervirens (D.Don): foliar uptake and prevention of dehydration. Plant, Cell & Environment 27: 1023-1034.

Ludwig, F., T.E. Dawson, H. De Kroon, F. Berendse and H.H.T. Prins. 2004. Belowground competition between trees and grasses may overwhelm the facilitative effects of hydraulic lift. Ecology Letters 7: 623-631.

Dawson, T.E., J.K. Ward, and J.R. Ehleringer. 2004. Temporal scaling of physiological responses from gas exchange to tree rings: a gender-specific study of Acer negundo (boxelder) under different conditions.Functional Ecology 18: 212-222.

Feild, T.S., N.C. Arens, J.A. Doyle, T.E. Dawson and M.A. Donoghue.  2004.  Dark and Disturbed: a new image of early angiosperm ecology. Paleobiology 30: 82-107.

Gregg, J.W., C.G. Jones and T.E. Dawson. 2003.  Urbanization, Air Pollution and Tree Growth in the Vicinity of New York City. Nature 424: 183-187.

Feild, T.S., N.C. Arens, and T.E. Dawson. 2003. Emerging perspectives on the ancestral ecophysiology of angiosperms. International Journal of Plant Sciences 164 (3 Suppl.): S129-S142.

Ludwig, F., T.E. Dawson, H. De Kroon, F. Berendse and H.H.T. Prins. 2003.  Hydraulic Lift in Acacia tortilis trees on an East African savanna. Oecologia 134: 293-300.

Dawson, T.E., S. Mambelli, A.H. Plamboeck, P.H. Templer  and K.P. Tu. 2002.  Stable Isotopes in Plant Ecology. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 33: 507-559.

Ward, J.K., T.E. Dawson, and J.R. Ehleringer.  2002.  Responses of Acer negundo genders to inter-annual differences in water availability determined from carbon isotope ratios of tree ring cellulose.  Tree Physiology 22: 339-346.

Feddes, R.A. H. Hoff, M. Bruen, T. Dawson, P. de Rosnay, P. Dirmeyer, R.B. Jackson, P. Kabat, A. Kleidon, A. Lilly, and A.J. Pitman. 2001.  Modeling Root Water Uptake in Hydrological and Climate Models.  Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 82 (12): 2797-2810.

Dawson, T.E. and P.D. Brooks.  2001.  Fundamentals of stable isotope chemistry and measurement.  Pp. 1-18 In: M. Unkovich, A. McNeill, J. Pate and J. Gibbs (eds.). The Application of Stable Isotope Techniques to Study Biological Processes and the Functioning of Ecosystems. Kluwer Academic Press.

DeLucia, E.H., J.S. Coleman, T.E. Dawson and R.B. Jackson. 2001. Plant Physiological Ecology: Challenges and New Horizons. New Phytologist 149: 12-16.