Tara Rajaniemi


Associate Professor

Ph.D. University of Michigan 2001 
Plant Community Ecology, plant competetion and species diversity

Email: trajaniemi@umassd.edu
Phone: 508-999-8223
Office: Violette Research Building, Room 205A

My research investigates the mechanisms that determine species diversity and composition in plant communities. I use novel analytical approaches to separate the effects of factors such as species pools, dispersal, resource stress, and competition on community structure. This work takes advantage of existing large datasets. I also use greenhouse and field experiments to examine the strategies plants use to compete for patchy belowground resources, and the effects of that competition on community structure.


 Recent Publications | Graduate Students |  Courses



Rajaniemi, T.K., Goldberg, D.E., Turkington, R., and Dyer, A.R.  (2012) Local filters limit species diversity, but species pools determine composition.  Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics 14:373-380.

Messina, D.S. and Rajaniemi, T.K. (2011) Does the seed bank reflect plant distributions in a coastal dune? Northeastern Naturalist 18:107-114.

Rajaniemi, T.K. (2011) Competition for patchy soil resources reduces community evenness. Oecologia 165:169-174.

Rajaniemi, T.K, Turkington, R., and Goldberg, D.E. (2009) Community level consequences of species interactions in an annual plant community. Journal of Vegetation Science 20: 836-846.

Rajaniemi, T.K., and Allison, V.J. (2009) Abiotic conditions and plant cover differentially affect microbial biomass and community composition on dune gradients. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 41:102-109.

Recent Graduate Students

Diana Barrett, M.S. 2012, Effects of temperature, light and salinity on the germination of six species of dune plants. (currently enrolled in the SMS PhD program)



Courses Professor Rajaniemi has taught include:

Topics in Biology—Campus Biodiversity (Honors) (BIO 103)

Ecology and Environmental Issues (BIO 143)

Biology of Populations Laboratory (BIO 211)

Plant Biology (BIO 350)

Community Ecology (BIO 411)

Introduction to Biological Statistics (BIO 430/530)

Advanced Seminar in Sustainability Studies (SUS 450)

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