Laura Spence

Laura Spence

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Education and Work Experience

  • Postdoctoral Researcher (2011-present) PIRE Mongolia project, University of Pennsylvania: external link:
  • Field Team-Leader (2009-2010) Landcare Research, New Zealand
  • PhD Plant Ecology (2005-2009) Forest Ecology and Conservation Group, Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge.
  • BA Natural Sciences (2001-2004) St. John's College, University of Cambridge

Research Interests

Steppe grassland dynamics and management; grassland response to climatic change; forest understorey invasion; native and exotic species dynamics; role of mycorrhizal fungi in plant invasion; long-term ecological studies; effects of deer on vegetation; consequences of rising deer populations; fairy rings.

Publications - Peer Reviewed

Casper, B.B., R. Goldman, A. Lkhagva, B. Helliker, A. Plante, L.A. Spence, P. Liancourt, B. Boldgiv, and P.S. Petraitis (in press). Legumes mitigate ecological consequences of a topographic gradient in a northern Mongolian steppe. Oecologia

Liancourt, P., L.A. Spence, B. Boldgiv, A. Lkhagva, B.R. Helliker, B.B. Casper, P.S. Petraitis (in press). Vulnerability of the Northern Mongolian steppe to climate change: Insights from flower production and phenology. Ecology external link:

Spence, L.A., J.V. Ross, S.W. Wiser, R.B. Allen, and D.A. Coomes (2011) Disturbance affects short-term facilitation, but not long-term saturation, of exotic plant invasion in New Zealand forest. Proc RS B 278 1457-1466. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2010.1738 external link: Spence et al 2011_ProcRSB.pdf

Spence, L.A., I.A. Dickie, and D.A. Coomes (2010) Arbuscular mycorrhizal inoculum potential: a mechanism promoting positive diversity-invasibility relationships in mountain beech forests in New Zealand? Mycorrhiza 21 (4) 309-314. DOI: 10.1007/s00572-010-0340-4

Other publications and media

Studying climate change through tree rings - video from University of Pennsylvania (2011) external link:

Fox, L.A. (2011) Scientist at Work blogs for New York Times:

external link:

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Spence, L.A. (2009) Exotic plant invasion in New Zealand forest understorey over 34 years: the roles of natural disturbance events, species richness, and mycorrhizal fungi. PhD Thesis, Department of Plant Sciences, University of Cambridge, UK

Spence, L.A. (2009) Wild Deer POSTnote 325, Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology external link:

Spence, L.A. and T. Pearson (2004) Back to purple: conserving and restoring The Stiperstones. Natural England Internal Report.