Where life begins...

Dr. Kenneth Elgersma

Dr. Kenneth Elgersma
Associate Professor
(319) 273-2645
Biology Research Complex 71

Ph.D. 2010, Ecology & Evolution, Rutgers University
M.S. 2009, Statistics, Rutgers University
B.A. 2002, Biology & Environmental Studies, Dordt College

Teaching Interests: 
Biostatistics, Organismal Diversity, Restoration Ecology, Advanced Ecology

I have several lines of active research which fall under 2 broad categories: ecosystem-level effects of agricultural management practices and wetland plant invasions.

· I am conducting research on carbon and nitrogen cycles in soils impacted by different biofuels production systems and Conservation Reserve Program practices. This work is being done locally in collaboration with researchers here at UNI, and as part of a larger regional-scale survey in collaboration with researchers at USGS.

· I am also part of the development team for a simulation model named MONDRIAN, which we are using to understand how different techniques of managing wetland invasive plants (burning, mowing, and herbicide application) affects ecosystem-level processes like carbon and nitrogen cycling. We used this model to recommend optimal treatment approaches for managing invasive Phragmites in wetlands under a wide variety of environmental conditions.  These recommendations are available in a user-friendly interactive web page I put together here, and we used these approaches as part of an adaptive management plan for restoring Phragmites-invaded wetlands in the Saginaw Bay area of Michigan.


C.M. Boeck-Crew, M.C. Myers, M.E. Sherrard, K.J. Elgersma, G.A. Houseal, and D.D. Smith (2020). Stratification and perigynia removal improve total germination and germination speed in three upland prairie sedge species. NativePlants Journal 21 (2): 120-131.

D.G. Goldberg, E. Batzer, J. Martina, K. Elgersma, and J. Klimešová (2020). Allocation to clonal growth: critical questions and protocols to answer them. Perspectives inPlant Ecology, Evolution, & Systematics 43: 125511

J.C. Meissen, A.J. Glidden, M.E. Sherrard, K.J. Elgersma, L.L. Jackson (2019).  Seed mix design and first-year management influence multifunctionality and cost-effectiveness in prairie reconstruction. RestorationEcology 28(4): 807-816.

M.E. Sherrard, K.J. Elgersma, J.M.A. Koos, C.M. Kokemuller, H.E. Dietz, A.J. Glidden, C.M. Carr, and C.A. Cambardella (2019). Species composition influences soil nutrient depletion and plant physiology in prairie agroenergy feedstocks. Ecosphere 10(7): e02805

S Bansal, S Lishawa, S Newman, D Albert, M Anteau, M Chimney, R Cressey, S DeKeyser, K Elgersma, S A Finkelstein, J Freeland, R Grosshans, P Klug, D Larkin, B Lawrence, G Linz, J Marburger, G Noe, C Otto, N Reo, J Richards, C Richardson, L Rodgers, A Schrank, D Svedarsky, B Tangen, S Travis, N Tuchman, A van der Valk, D Wilcox, L Windham-Myers (2019). Typha (cattail) Invasion in North America: Biology, Regional Issues, Impacts, Desired Services and Management. Wetlands 39: 645–684.

Batzer, E.E., J.P. Martina, K.J. Elgersma, & D.E. Goldberg (2017). Clonal reproduction in sedges with contrasting morphologies: Relationships between parental allocation, daughter ramet size, and ramet morphology. Plant Ecology 218(11-12): 1299-1311.

Elgersma, K.J., J.P. Martina, W.S. Currie, and D.E. Goldberg (2017).  Effectiveness of cattail (Typha spp.) management techniques depends on exogenous nitrogen inputs.  Elementa 5:19. DOI:

Goldberg, D.E., J.P. Martina, K.J. Elgersma, and W.S. Currie (2017). Plant size and competitive dynamics along nutrient gradients.  American Naturalist 190(2): 229-243.

      *Faculty of 1000 Recommended as being of special significance in its field

Laungani, R., K. Elgersma, K. McElligott, M. Juarez, & T. Kuhfahl. (2016). Biochar amendment of grassland soil may promote woody encroachment by Eastern Red Cedar. Journal of Soil Science and Plant Nutrition 16(4), 941-954.

Martina, J.P., WS Currie, DE Goldberg, and KJ Elgersma (2016). Nitrogen loading leads to increased carbon accretion in both invaded and uninvaded coastal wetlands. Ecosphere 7(9): e01459.

Elgersma, K.J., R. Wildová, J.P. Martina, D.E. Goldberg, and W.S. Currie (2015). Does clonal resource translocation relate to invasiveness of Typha taxa? Results from a common garden experiment. Aquatic Botany 126: 48-53.

Currie, W.S., D.E. Goldberg, J. Martina, R. Wildova, E. Farrer, and K.J. Elgersma (2014). Emergence of nutrient-cycling feedbacks related to plant size and invasion success in a wetland community–ecosystem model. Ecological Modelling 282: 69-82.

Elgersma, K.J. (2014) Soils Suppressing and Promoting Non-native Plant Invasions. In: Interactions in Soil: Promoting Plant Growth. Springer.

Elgersma, K.J., S. Yu, T. Vor, and J.G. Ehrenfeld (2012). Microbial-mediated feedbacks of leaf litter on invasive plant growth and interspecific competition. Plant & Soil 356(1-2): 341-355.

Elgersma, K.J., Ehrenfeld, J.G., Yu, S., and Vor, T. (2011). Legacy effects overwhelm the short-term effects of exotic plant invasion and restoration on soil microbial community structure, enzyme activities, and nitrogen cycling. Oecologia 167(3): 733-745.

Elgersma, K.J. and J.G. Ehrenfeld (2011). Linear and non-linear impacts of a non-native plant invasion on soil microbial community structure and function. Biological Invasions 13: 757-768.

Ehrenfeld, J.G., B. Ravit, and K. Elgersma (2005). Feedback in the plant-soil system. Annual Review of Environment and Resources 30: 75-115.