Margie Mayfield



I completed my undergraduate degree at Reed College in biology in 1998.  At this time, I was very interested in pollination ecology and specifically pollination as an ecosystem service.  I pursued this interest as a T. J. Watson Fellow working on the project “Wild bee management for crop pollination.”  Through this experience I had the opportunity to conduct crop pollination research in Bolivia, New Zealand, South Africa and India.

I changed research focus for my PhD, working instead on the countryside biogeography of plants in agricultural landscapes in Costa Rica, under the supervision of Gretchen Daily at Stanford University.  During my PhD I became increasingly interested in the mechanisms underlying patterns of diversity. Specifically, I became interested in whether and how diversity maintenance mechanisms mediate the changes in plant diversity evident in human-modified landscapes around the world.  I have largely focused on this topic ever since, starting with a postdoc with Jonathan Levine at UCSB and continuing today with my research in Australia. 

My work now ranges from largely theoretical to very applied, but I mainly work at the interface of ecological theory and field ecology.  With my research, I hope to advance theoretical ecology through the detailed study of the natural world, while providing the fundamental knowledge needed to develop effective restoration and conservation strategies for the future.

Research Interests

My research broadly focuses on how plant communities reassemble, persist and function following human land-use change. My research falls into two categories:

  1. 1.Theoretical plant community ecology: coexistence and diversity maintenance


  1. Corey Bradshaw (The University of Adelaide)

  2. Dan Metcalfe (CSIRO)

  3. Daniel Stouffer (University of Canterbury)

  4. Elsa Cleland (University of California San Diego)

  5. Hazel Chapman (University of Canterbury) 

  6. Janneke Hille Ris Lambers (University of Washington)

  7. John Morgan (La Trobe University)

  8. John Dwyer (University of Queensland)

  9. Mark Hovenden (University of Tasmania)

  10. Peter Erskine (The University of Queensland)

  11. Peter Vesk (The University of Melbourne)

  12. Richard Hobbs (The University of Western Australia)

  13. Robert Holt (University of Florida)

  14. Stephen Bonser (The University of New South Wales)

Subject Editor for

Global Ecology and Biogeography

Proceedings of the Royal Society B

Axios - a pre-review service

Position: Associate Professor in Plant Ecology

PhD: Stanford University (2005)

Undergraduate: Reed College (1998)

2. Effects of anthropogenic environmental changes on plant and insect communities

Most of my theoretical work focuses on understanding how species interactions contribute to coexistence dynamics. I have recently become quite interested in the concept of “higher-order” interactions and the effects these non-additive interactions can have on the fitness and population growth rates of plants. My students and collaborator Daniel Stouffer have a wide range of projects focused on this topic, though our major focus at the moment is on exploring the importance of species identity, functional attributes and spatial orientation for the strength of higher-order interactions in annual plant systems.

My other work involves a variety of systems and questions, all within the general research theme of understanding how the environment (and specifically local environmental change) impacts species interactions and local patterns of diversity.  This research includes projects in Tasmania, Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland.

Students in my lab work on a wide range of topics, from pollination as an ecosystem service and invasion biology to the theoretical concept of higher-order interactions and the spatial dynamics of species interactions.