I am on faculty in Plant Sciences and Plant Pathology at Montana State University. I teach courses for which I develop this Flickr site. These include Agrostology (grass systematics and ecology) and Plant Systematics (a regional flora course). Although I organize my Flickr photos primarily for teaching, I hope they are generally useful for promoting plant education.

I am interested in the study of plant diversity from all regions of the world but especially in highly seasonal vegetation, including the sagebrush steppe of western North America and seasonally dry neotropical forests and woodlands, the latter of which are characterized by low grass cover and a high diversity of legumes and succulent plants (e.g., asclepiads, cacti, euphorbs, bromeliads, agaves, etc.). Extreme seasonality results in short windows of plant productivity because the vegetation is "cooked" or "frozen" into submission for much of the year. This fosters low immigration rates, dispersal limitation, because immigrants find little growing opportunity especially against well-adapted residents that are already waiting for the short window of growing opportunity. Such dispersal limitation can result in the evolutionary persistence of localized populations and ultimately in high levels of alpha and beta plant diversity. Many of my Flickr photos document remaining fragments of sagebrush steppe that harbor high levels of plant-species and functional-group diversity. These fragments provide a glimpse of the plant community composition in sagebrush steppe with little human-mediated impact (e.g., pre-Columbian or even pre-human times). A list of my publications includes references to a sagebrush study on the plant diversity in the sagebrush steppe of the Idaho National Laboratory and a cheatgrass study that defines where Bromus tectorum has present and future potential to convert sagebrush steppe to exotic annual plant communities.

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  • BeartoothButte-Kristi-Matt by homeboy63

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Matt Lavin
February 2009
Bozeman, Montana
Bozeman, Montana, USA
Plant Sciences and Plant Pathology