Elizabeth Leger

Photo of Elizabeth Leger


Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Science
University of Nevada/Mail Stop 186
1664 N. Virginia Street
Reno,  Nevada   89557

Office: (775) 784-7582
Email: eleger@cabnr.unr.edu
Building: Max Fleischmann Agriculture,  Office 130
Personal Web: https://naes.unr.edu/leger/

Download Electronic Business Card OR vCard

BA, 1996, Lewis and Clark College
PhD, 2004, University of California, Davis; Graduate Group in Ecology


I am interested in the population biology of plants. I work on local adaptation and rapid evolution of native and invasive species, and am interested in how genetic variation (below the species level) affects the distribution and abundance of species. I also work with plant-animal interactions, and am currently interested in how nutrients and herbivory interact to affect competitive relationships between plants.

In addition to my work on plant population biology, I do projects that gather basic ecological data about rare species, natural communities, and invasive species control, providing information that is necessary to make appropriate management and restoration decisions.


Fact Sheets
Davison, J. and Leger, E. 2012, The Potential of Amaranth as a New Crop for Nevada, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension
Amaranth originated in South America and has been cultivated for centuries. It is grown as a high quality, gluten-free grain, and occasionally used as a leafy vegetable as well. While the seeds are sold as a grain, it is a broad-leaved plant and not a grass as are most grains.
Uselman SM, Davison J, Baughman OW, Sullivan BW, Miller WW, Leger EA 2018, Restoring dryland old fields with native shrubs and grasses: Does facilitation and seed source matter?, PloS One, 3 (10), e0205760
Barga, S., Leger, E. A. 2018, Shrub cover and fire history predict seed bank composition in Great Basin shrublands., Journal of Arid Environments, 154, 40-50
Weisberg, P. J., Dilts, T., Baughman, O., Meyer, S., Leger, E. A., Van Gunst, J., Cleeves, L. 2017, Development of remote sensing indicators for mapping episodic die-off of an invasive annual grass (Bromus tectorum) from the Landsat archive., Ecological Indicators, 79, 173-181.
Johnson, R. C., Leger, E. A., Vance-Borland3, K. 2017, Genecology of Thurber’s needlegrass (Achnatherum thurberianum (Piper) Barkworth) in the Western U.S., Rangeland Ecology and Management, 70, 509-517.
Leger, E. A., Goergen, E. M. 2017, Invasive Bromus tectorum alters natural selection in arid systems., Journal of Ecology, 105, 1509-1520
Hulvey, K. B., Leger, E. A., Porensky, L., Roche, L., Veblan, K., Fund, A., Shaw, J., Gornish, E. 2017, Restoration islands: a tool for efficiently restoring dryland ecosystems., Restoration Ecology, 25(S2), S124–S134.
Baughman, O., Meyer, S., Aanderud, Z., Leger, E. A. 2016, Cheatgrass die-offs as an opportunity for restoration in the Great Basin, USA: Will Local or Commercial Native Plants Succeed Where Exotic Invaders Fail? Cheatgrass Die-offs as an Opportunity for Restoration in the Great Basin, USA., Journal of Arid Environments, 124, 193-204
Morris, L., Leger, E. A. 2016, Secondary succession in the sagebrush semi-desert 66 years after fire in the Great Basin., Natural Areas Journal, 32, 187-193
Meyer, S. E., Leger, E. A., Lara, D., Coleman, C. 2016, Strong genetic differentiation in the invasive annual grass Bromus tectorum across the Mojave-Great Basin ecological transition zone., Biological Invasions, 18, 1611-1628
Uselman, S., Leger, E. A., Snyder, K., Duke, S. 2015, Emergence and early survival of early versus late seral species in Great Basin restoration in two different soil types., Applied Vegetation Science, 18(4), 624-636.
Ferguson, S., Leger, E. A., Li, J., Nowak, R. 2015, Natural selection favors root investment in native grasses during restoration of invaded fields., Journal of Arid Environments, 116, 11-17.
Leger, E. A., Baughman, O. 2015, What Seeds to Plant in the Great Basin? Comparing Traits Prioritized in Native Plant Cultivars and Releases with Those That Promote Survival in the Field., Natural Areas Journal, 35(1), 54-68.
Porensky, L. M., Leger, E. A., Davison, J., Miller, W. W., Goergen, E. M., Espeland, E. K., Carroll-Moore, E. M. 2014, Arid old-field restoration: Native perennial grasses suppress weeds and erosion, but also suppress native shrubs., Agriculture, Ecosystems, and Environment.
Leger, E. A., Goergen, E. M., De Quieros, T. F. 2014, Can native annual forbs reduce Bromus tectorum biomass and indirectly facilitate establishment of a native perennial grass?, Journal of Arid Environments.
Leger, E.A. 2013, Annual plants change in size over a century of observations., Global Change Biology.
Morris, L. R., Monaco, T. A., Leger, E. A., Blank, R., Sheley, R. 2013, Cultivation legacies alter soil nutrients and differentially affect plant species performance nearly a century after abandonment., Plant Ecology, 214, 831-844.
Kulpa, S.M., Leger, E.A. 2013, Strong natural selection during plant restoration favors and unexpected suite of plant traits, Evolutionary Applications.
Kulpa, S.M., Leger, E.A., Espeland, E.K., Goergen, E.M. 2012, Postfire seeding and plant community recovery in the Great Basin., Rangeland Ecology and Management 65:171-181
Rowe, C. J., Leger 2012, Seed source affects establishment of Elymus multisetus in postfire revegetation in the Great Basin., Western North American Naturalist 72:543-553.
Arnone, J., Jasoni, R., Lucchesi, A., Larson, J., Leger, E. A., Sherry, R., Luo, Y., Schimel, D., Verburg, P. 2011, A climatically extreme year has large impacts on C-4 species in tallgrass prairie ecosystems but only minor effects on species richness and other plant functional groups, Journal of Ecology, 99, 678-688
Rowe, C. J., Leger, E. A. 2011, Competitive seedlings and inherited traits: a test of rapid evolution of Elymus multisetus (big squirreltail) in response to cheatgrass invasion., Evolutionary Applications 4: 485-498
Perkins, L., Leger, E. A., Nowak, R. S. 2011, Invasion triangle: an organizational framework for species invasion, Ecology and Evolution, 1(4)
Goergen, E.M., Leger, E.A., Espeland, E.K. 2011, Native perennial grasses show evolutionary reponse to Bromus tectorum (cheatgrass) invasion., PLoS One 6: e18145.
Leger, E. A., Espeland, E. K. 2010, Coevolution between native and invasive plant competitors: implications for invasive species management., Evolutionary Applications, 3(2), 4366-4379
Espeland, E. K., Leger, E. A., Perkins, L. B. 2010, Comparison of Seed Bank Estimation Techniques Using Six Weed Species in Two Soil Types., Rangeland Ecology and Management, 63(2), 243-247
Meyer, S., Leger, E. A. 2010, Inbreeding, genetic variation, and invasiveness: the strange case of Bromus tectorum., Rangelands, 32(1), 6-11.
Leger, E. A., Espeland, E. K. 2010, The shifting balance of facilitation and competition affects the outcome of intra- and interspecific interactions over the life history of California grassland annuals., Plant Ecology, 208(2), 333-345.
Chambers, J.C., Leger, E.A., Goergen, E 2009, Cold desert fire and invasive species management: resources, strategies, tactics, and responses, Rangelands 31: 14-20
Leger, E. A., Forister, M. L. 2009, Colonization, abundance and geographic range size of gravestone lichens, Basic and Applied Ecology
Leger, E.A., Espeland, E.K., Merrill, K.R., Meyer, S.E. 2009, Genetic variation and local adaptation at a cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) invasion edge in western Nevada, Molecular Ecology online early
Leger, E.A. 2009, Sowing (and mapping) the wild oats, Molecular Ecology 18: 3759-3760
Gurevitch, J., Howard, T.J., Ashton, I.W., Leger, E.A., Howe, K., Woo, E., and Lerdau, M. 2008, Effects of experimental manipulation of light and nutrients on establishment of seedlings of native and invasive woody species in Long Island, NY forests, Biological Invasions
Leger, E. A. 2008, The adaptive value of remnant native plants in invaded communities: an example from the Great Basin., Ecological Applications, 18, 1226-1235.
Leger, E.A. and K.J. Rice. 2007, Assessing the speed and predictability of evolution in an invasive species: a comparison of traits between native and invasive California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) across similar geographic gradients., Journal of Evolutionary Biology 20: 1090-1103
Leger, E.A., Howe, K.M., Gurevitch, J., Woo, E., Hickman, J., Ashton, I. and M. Lerdau 2007, Nitrogen additions and natural enemies in eastern forests: native and exotic species responses to resource manipulation in two community types, Forest Science 53:701-709
Leger, E.A. and M.L. Forister 2005, Increased herbivore resistance in invasive populations of the California poppy (Eschscholzia californica)., Diversity and Distributions 11: 311-317
Leger, E.A. and K.J. Rice. 2003, Invasive California poppies (Eschscholzia californica Cham.) grow larger than native individuals under reduced competition., Ecology Letters 6: 257-264.
Book or Chapter(s) in Books
Leger, E. A., Baughman, O. 2014, What can natural selection tell us about restoration? Finding the best seed sources for use in disturbed systems., K. Kiehl, A. Kirmer, N. Shaw, and S. Tischew (Ed.), Guidelines for native seed production and grassland restoration. Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
Suding, K., Leger, E.A 2012, Shfiting Baselines: Dynamics of Evolution and Community Change in a Changing World., Restoration Ecology: The New Frontierd, J. van Andel and J. Aronson, eds
Technical Publication
E. Espeland, E. Leger, J. Davison 2010, Alternative Agriculture And Vegetation Management In The Walker Basin, Walker Basin Project
Book Reviews
Leger, E. A., Forister, M. 2013, Grime’s triangle and the evolution of the ecosystem, Ecology , 94(2), 2013, pp. 545–546
Fact Sheets
Barga, S., Dilts, T., Leger, E. A. 2017, Climate variability and the specialist-generalist spectrum of germination strategies exhibited by a group of herbaceous, arid land plants., Oecologia, 185, 437–452.
Leger EA, Atwater DZ, James JJ 2019, Seed and seedling traits have strong impacts on establishment of a perennial bunchgrass in invaded semi-arid systems, DRYAD