Welcome to the Turner Lab!

Our research emphasizes landscape ecology (the study of interactions between spatial patterns and ecological processes) and ecosystem ecology (the study of flows of energy and matter through organisms and the environment). We are primarily a terrestrial ecology group but we also study land-water interactions. We pursue question-driven research in remote wilderness settings and in agricultural and urban landscapes in which we live and work. We use field studies, experiments, spatial analyses, and computer simulation modeling to understand where, when and why ecosystems change. Understanding how climate change will alter the landscapes around us is also a common theme. Landscape ecology offers new concepts, theory and methods that are revealing the importance of spatial patterning on the dynamics of interacting ecosystems. Our research is united by a focus on pattern and process while we examine a diverse range of topics.


  • Future landscapes of Greater Yellowstone

    Now available! Our video, Future landscapes of Greater Yellowstone, explain how climate change could alter landscapes of Yellowstone. It was developed for general audiences and is suitable for classroom use. Please share!

  • Lots to celebrate in the Turner Lab!

    Congratulations to Alli Kneisel, who won the campus-wide 2023-24 TA award for Early Excellence in Teaching, Dorothy Powelson Award; Garrett Knowlton, selected as a 2024 Graduate Student Policy Award from the Ecological Society of America; …

  • When Wildfire Makes the Forest Understory the Star

    Read Nathan Kiel’s and Monica Turner’s new article in the winter 2023 issue of “Park Science” to find out what happens to Yellowstone’s plant communities when forests don’t come back after wildfire.

  • More News

Climate change and disturbance regimes

The frequency, size and severity of natural disturbances are already changing with climate. Our studies provide glimpses of what is to come and explore how ecosystems may change.

Fire, insects, forests and ecosystem processes in Greater Yellowstone

Our long-term studies yield new insights about how climate and fire continue to shape the forests of Greater Yellowstone.

Landscape sustainability, land-water interactions and ecosystem services

Nature provides a wide array of benefits, and we seek to uncover how to sustain food, energy, water and ecosystems in our working landscapes.

Urban landscape ecology

Cities are so heterogeneous, and our research in Madison sheds light on how urban spatial patterns affect ecosystem services.

Tools and resources for landscape ecology

From review papers to textbooks and hands-on exercises, we contribute resources for teaching and learning landscape ecology.