Heath William Garris

Heath William Garris

Title: IB PhD Student
Dept/Program: Biology
Office: ASEC E513
Email: hwg3@zips.uakron.edu

Research Accomplishments

      Beginning with Christen C. Raunkiaer (1904), vegetation scientists have tried to group taxa into 'functional' categories that respond similarly to environmental stress.  More recent formulas by J. Philip Grime (1979) and David Tilman (1988) have given us the tools to categorize much of the earth's plant diversity in terms of a few functional strategies.  Their early approaches were refined to include soft traits to compare diverse communities across large spaces and over long periods of time (e.g. Westoby 1998, Dormann & Woodin 2002).  These approaches are useful because they simplify taxonomic diversity to a manageable subset of ecologically relevant types, and because they can be generalized from local experiments to a broader group of ecosystems.  When dealing with environmental variables as numerous as those encompassing 'climate', ordered simplifications are necessary to predict the response of communities as a whole, and to analyze the interactions between environmental inputs. 


      In my research, I measure plant survival strategies to explain climate change-induced shifts in wetland communities.  I am trying to make functional classifications that help predict the character of wetland communities in the future and explain the variation in wetland ecosystem function for the Midwest.


      I simulate climate warming using Open Top Chambers (OTCs) and document the relative contribution of compositional shifts versus intraspecific plasticity to wetland community response.  I also use mesocosms to control for initial functional composition in hyper-diverse communities and track their responses to the interactions between climate variables.  Finally, I conduct geographic analyses of recent climate change in the North America to study the impacts of regional processes on ecosystem-level interactions.


2011. Miller, JK, L. Roketenetz, HW Garris.  Modeling the interaction between the exotic invasive aquatic macrophyte Myriophyllum spicatum and the native biocontrol agent Euhrychiopsis lecontei to improve augmented management programs.  Biocontrol DOI: 10.1007/s10526-011-9371-9.

2010. Garris, HW, JA Snyder.  Sex-specific attraction of north american moth (Arthropoda: Lepidoptera) populations to ultraviolet light.  Southeastern Naturalist 9(3):427-434.

2010. Siccardi AJ, S. Padgett-Vasquez, HW Garris, TR Nagy, LR D'Abramo, SA Watts .  Dietary strontium increases bone mineral density in intact zebrafish (Danio rerio): a potential model system for bone research.  Zebrafish 7(3): 267-273

2009. Siccardi AJ, HW Garris, WT Jones, DB Moseley, LR D'Abramo, SA Watts. Growth and survival of zebrafish (Danio rerio) fed different commercial and laboratory diets.  Zebrafish 6(3): 275-280.

2008. Garris, HW.  Feed comparison for dietary standardization of the sea urchin (Lytechinus variegatus) and assessment of parental dietary copper toxicity by fertilization and embryological tests.  Master’s Thesis, The University of Alabama, Birmingham. https://www.mhsl.uab.edu/dt/2008m/garris.pdf


M.S. Biology – University of Alabama at Birmingham B.S. Biology – Furman University