Jeffrey Dawson


Professor, Natural Resources & Environmental Science
Affiliate, Department of Plant Biology
Program in Ecology, Evolution & Conservation Biology
Physiological and Molecular Plant Biology Program
1316 Plant Sciences Laboratory MC-634
(217) 333-9281


Ph.D., Iowa State University, 1978
M. S., Iowa State University, 1973
B. S., Iowa State University, 1971


NRES 211, Forest Ecology Field Studies
NRES 219, Introduction to Ecosystem Management
NRES 416, Forest Biology
NRES 426, Tree Physiology
NRES 590, Professionalism & Ethics

Research Overview

My primary research focus has been the ecophysiology of non-leguminous, woody plants that fix nitrogen symbiotically with a root-nodulating actinomycete of the genus Frankia. These actinorhizal trees and shrubs are important in the nitrogen economies of forests, rangelands, deserts, and wetlands worldwide. Some species, such as alder trees, are valuable timber crops. Others are used as fuelwood, for reclamation of disturbed lands such as minespoils, in agroforestry, in wildlife habitat management, and as components of the urban landscape. My other academic pursuits are in the general area of forest biology and include forest ecology, tree physiology, soil microbiology, silviculture, and urban forestry.


Gtari, Maher and Jeffrey O. Dawson. 2011. An overview of African actinorhizal plants. Functional Plant Biology 38: 653-661.

Taft, John B. and Jeffrey O. Dawson. 2011. Evidence for Community Structuring Associated with the Actinorhizal shrub Ceanothus americanus in tallgrass prairies in Illinois, USA. Functional Plant Biology 38:711-719.

Pokharel, Anita, Babur S. Mirza, Jeffrey O. Dawson, Dittmar Hahn. 2011. Frankia populations in soil and root nodules of sympatrically grown Alnus taxa. Microbial Ecology 61:92-100.

Welsh, A.K., J.O. Dawson, G.J. Gottfried and D. Hahn. 2009. Diversity of Frankia in root nodules of geographically isolated Arizona alders in central Arizona, USA. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 75: 6913-6918.

Dawson, J. O. 2007. The ecology of actinorhizal plants. In K. Pawlowski and W.E. Newton, Eds., "Nitrogen-Fixing Actinorhizal Symbioses", Volume 6 of Nitrogen Fixation: Origins, Applications and Research Progress. Springer, Netherlands. pp. 199-234.

Kaelke CM and Dawson JO (2005) The accretion of nonstructural carbohydrates changes seasonally in Alnus incana ssp. rugosa in accord with tissue type, growth, N allocation, and root hypoxia. Symbiosis (In press).

Dawson JO, Ffolliott PF, Fisher JT, Moshe I, Johnson C, Fulbright TE, Verburg P and Shatanawi M (2005) Dryland Biodiversity: The International Arid Lands Consortium contributions to the status of knowledge. Annals of Arid Zone (In press).

Dawson JO, Ffolliott PF, Fisher JT, Sachs M, DeBoer DW, Fulbright TE and Tracy J (2005) Increasing Our Understanding of Dryland Diversity and Management: The International Arid Lands Consortium Experience. Journal of Arid Environments.