G. David Tilman, Ph.D.


G. David Tilman, Ph.D.
David Tilman
Regents Professor
University of Minnesota, McKnight Presidential University Chair in Ecology
1987 Upper Buford Circle
City, State, ZIP
St. Paul, Minnesota 55108-6097
[email protected]
Award year


Project Details

The Critical Importance of Biodiversity to Ecosystem Functioning

Tilman used his Pew Fellowship to educate public officials, government agency personnel, policy makers and the public about the critical importance of biodiversity to ecosystem functioning and the benefits of its preservation compared with the costs of its destruction. To accomplish this, he launched Issues in Ecology in collaboration with the Ecological Society of America. The series presents technical, ecological and environmental reports via printed documents, postings on the Internet, dissemination via media outlets and in congressional and agency briefings targeted to policy makers.


David Tilman is intrigued by the causes of broad, general patterns in ecological systems, especially patterns in the biological diversity, structure and dynamics of plant communities. He began his career studying the mechanisms of resource competition among freshwater algae and then expanded this to terrestrial plant communities, especially the grasslands of Minnesota's Cedar Creek Natural History Area which he directs. This work has focused on the causes of succession and the controls of both diversity and species composition. Tilman's approach is to combine well-replicated field experiments with mathematical theory to make further predictions on biodiversity patterns. He strongly believes that scientists should actively disseminate their research findings to the public and policy makers to inform sound conservation planning and policies.


University of Minnesota College of Biological Sciences

Cedar Creek Natural History Area



Ph.D., University of Michigan
1976: Zoology, Michigan, USA

Bachelor of Science, University of Michigan
1971: Zoology, Michigan, USA


National Research Council

1993-1995: Committee on Pacific Northwest Forest Management

1996-Present: Editorial Review Board

Ecological Society of America
1995-Present: Founding Editor, Ecological Issues

Institute of Ecosystem Studies
1995-Present: Advisory Committee

Public Radio International, The World program
1995-Present: Science Advisory Group

President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST)

Acta Oecologica (Paris, France)
1990-1994: Editorial Board

American Naturalist
1990-1994: Editorial Board

National Science Foundation
1989-1993: Ecology Panel

National Science Foundation
1990: Director's Advisory Committee


MacArthur Award
1996: Ecological Society of America

Marine Fellow
1995: Pew Fellows Program in Conservation and the Environment

1995: American Academy of the Arts

W.S. Cooper Award
1989: Ecological Society of America


American Academy of Arts and Sciences

American Association for the Advancement of Science

American Society of Limnology and Oceanography

American Society of Naturalists

British Ecological Society

Ecological Society of America


  • Tilman, D. 1997. Community invasibility, recruitment limitation, and grassland biodiversity. Ecology 78:81-92
  • Tilman, D., C. Lehman and C. Yin. 1997. Habitat destruction, dispersal and deterministic extinction in competitive communities. American Naturalist 149:407-435
  • Tilman, D., C.L. Lehman and K.T. Thomson. 1997. Plant diversity and ecosystem productivity: Theoretical considerations. Proceedings of the National. Academy of Science 94:1857-1861
  • Tilman, D., J. Knops, D. Wedin, P. Reich, M. Ritchie and E. Siemann. 1997. The influence of functional diversity and composition on ecosystem processes. Science 277:1300-1302
  • Tilman, D. 1996. Biodiversity: Population versus ecosystem stability. Ecology 77(3): 350-363
  • Tilman, D., D. Wedin and J. Knops. 1996. Productivity and sustainability influenced by biodiversity in grassland ecosystems. Nature 379:718-720
  • Wedin, D. A. and D. Tilman. 1996. Influence of nitrogen loading and species composition on the carbon balance of grasslands. Science 274:1720-1723
  • Tilman, D. and J.A. Downing. 1994. Biodiversity and stability in grasslands. Nature 367:363-365
  • Tilman, D., R.M. May, C.L. Lehman, and M.A. Nowak. 1994. Habitat destruction and the extinction debt. Nature 371:65-66
  • Tilman, D.. 1994. Competition and biodiversity in spatially structured habitats. Ecology 75:2-16

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