University of Kentucky College of Agriculture
Cirriculum Vitae


Department of Plant & Soil Sciences
N-222D Ag. Sci. North Phone: (859) 257-6833
University of Kentucky Fax: (859) 323-1952
Lexington, KY 40546-0091


2006-present Assistant Professor, Department of Plant & Soil Sciences, University of Kentucky
2002-2006 Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Biology, Duke University


2002 - Ph.D. in Ecology, Colorado State University
1998 - M.S. in Rangeland Ecology & Management, Texas A&M University
1995 - B.A. in Biology, Rice University


My research program seeks to identify the main ecological factors controlling grassland structure and function. Specifically, my lab explores the effects of fungal endophyte symbioses on grassland ecosystem processes, and evaluates how grasslands will respond to global change factors, such as alterations to climate, land use, ultraviolet radiation, and invasive species abundance.



* graduate, ‡ postdoc, or ** undergraduate students whom I advise; † graduate student lab collaboration

26) Iqbal, J. ‡, J.A. Siegrist*, J.A. Nelson, and R.L. McCulley. In Press. Fungal endophyte infection increases carbon sequestration potential of southeastern U.S.A. tall fescue stands. Soil Biology & Biochemistry

25) Ruffner, M.E.†, R.L. McCulley, J.A. Nelson, and T.G. Barnes. In Press. Invasion by exotic Old World bluestem grasses alters ecosystem function of a South Texas coastal prairie. Biological Invasions.

24) McCulley, R.L. and R.B. Jackson. In Press. Conversion of tallgrass prairie to woodland: Consequences for carbon and nitrogen cycling. American Midland Naturalist.

23) Hall, S.L.*, R.L. McCulley, and R.J. Barney. In Press. Restoration of native warm season grassland species in a tall fescue pasture using prescribed fire and herbicides. Restoration Ecology.

22) McNear Jr., D.H. and R.L. McCulley. In Press. Influence of the Neotyphodium - tall fescue symbiosis on belowground processes. Proceedings of the International Symposium on Fungal Endophytes of Grasses.

21) Adler, P.B. and 39 others (including R.L. McCulley). 2011. Productivity does not predict fine-scale plant species richness. Science 333:1750-1753.

20) Firn, J. and 31 others (including R.L. McCulley). 2011. Abundance of introduced species at home predicts abundance away in temperate grasslands. Ecology Letters 14:274-281.

19) Brosi, G.B.*, R.L. McCulley, L.P. Bush, J.A. Nelson, A.T. Classen, and R.J. Norby. 2011. Effects of multiple climate change factors on the tall fescue - fungal endophyte symbiosis: infection frequency and tissue chemistry. New Phytologist 189:797-805.

18) Gilliam, F.S., R.L. McCulley, and J.A. Nelson. 2011. Spatial variability in soil microbial communities in a nitrogen-saturated hardwood forest watershed. Soil Science Society of America Journal 75: 280-286.

17) Weand, M.†, M.A. Arthur, G.M. Lovett, R.L. McCulley, and K.C. Weathers. 2010. Effects of tree species and N additions on forest floor microbial communities and extracellular enzyme activities. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 42: 2161-2173.

16) Siegrist, J.A. *, R.L. McCulley, L.P. Bush, and T.D. Phillips. 2010. Alkaloids may not be responsible for endophyte-associated reductions in tall fescue decomposition rates. Functional Ecology 24: 460-468.

15) Ippolito, J.A., S.W. Blecker, C.L. Freeman, J. Blair, R.L. McCulley, and E.F. Kelly. 2010. Phosphorus biogeochemistry across a grassland climosequence. Journal of Arid Environments 74(8): 954-961.

14) McCulley, R.L., I.C. Burke, and W.K. Lauenroth. 2009. Conservation of nitrogen increases with precipitation across a major grassland gradient in the Central Great Plains of North America. Oecologia 159: 571-581.

13) Burke, I.C., A.R. Mosier, P.B. Hook, D.G. Milchunas, J.E. Barrett, M.A. Vinton, R.L. McCulley, J.P. Kaye, R.A. Gill, H.E. Epstein, R.H. Kelly, W.J. Parton, C.M. Yonker, P. Lowe, and W.K. Lauenroth. 2008. Ch 13 - Soil organic matter and nutrient dynamics of shortgrass steppe ecosystems. Pp. 306-341, In: Ecology of the Shortgrass Steppe. Eds. W.K. Lauenroth and I.C. Burke. Oxford University Press, NY, NY.

12) McCulley, R.L., T.W. Boutton, S.R. Archer. 2007. Soil carbon cycling in subtropical savanna parkland: Response to water additions. Soil Science Society of America Journal 71:820-828.

11) Jackson, R.B., K.A. Farley, W.A. Hoffman, E.G. Jobbágy, and R.L. McCulley. 2007. Ch 19: Carbon and water tradeoffs in conversions to forests and shrublands. Pp. 237-246, In Terrestrial Ecosystems in a Changing World. Eds. Canadell, J.G., D.E. Pataki, and L.F. Pitelka. Springer, Cambridge, MA.

10) Blecker, S.W., R.L. McCulley, O.A. Chadwick, and E.F. Kelly. 2006. Biologic cycling of silica across a grassland bioclimosequence. Global Biogeochemical Cycles 20, GB3023, doi:10.1029/2006GB002690.

9) McCulley, R.L., I.C. Burke, J.A. Nelson, W.K. Lauenroth, A.K. Knapp, and E.F. Kelly. 2005. Regional patterns in carbon cycling across the Great Plains of North America. Ecosystems 8: 106-121.
McCulley, pg. 3

8) Kaye, J.P., R.L. McCulley, and I.C. Burke. 2005. Carbon fluxes, nitrogen cycling and soil microbial communities in adjacent urban, native and agricultural ecosystems. Global Change Biology 11: 575-587.

7) McCulley, R.L. and I.C. Burke. 2004. Microbial community composition across the Great Plains: Landscape versus regional variability. Soil Science Society of America Journal 68: 106-115.

6) Roberts, L.**, R.L. McCulley, I. Burke, and W. Lauenroth. 2004. Indications of groundwater usage by Limber Pine (Pinus flexilis) communities in northeastern Colorado: An oxygen isotope study. American Midland Naturalist 152: 178-182.

5) Jackson, R.B., S.T. Berthrong, C.W. Cook, E.G. Jobbágy, and R.L. McCulley. 2004. Comment on "A Reservoir of Nitrate Beneath Desert Soils." Science 304: 51.

4) McCulley, R.L., S.R. Archer, T.W. Boutton, F. Hons, and D.A. Zuberer. 2004. Soil respiration and nutrient cycling of wooded communities developing in grassland. Ecology 85: 2804-2817.

3) McCulley, R.L., E.G. Jobbágy, W.T. Pockman, and R.B. Jackson. 2004. Nutrient uptake as a contributing explanation for deep rooting in arid ecosystems. Oecologia 141: 620-628.

2) Burke, I.C., J.P. Kaye, S.P. Bird, S.A. Hall, R.L. McCulley, and G.L. Sommerville. 2003. Ch. 13 - Evaluating and testing models of terrestrial biogeochemistry: The role of temperature in controlling decomposition. Pp. 225-253 In: Canham, C.D., J.J. Cole, and W.K. Lauenroth, editors. Models in Ecosystem Science. Princeton (NJ): Princeton University Press.

1) Barrett, J.E., R.L. McCulley, D.R. Lane, I.C. Burke, and W.K. Lauenroth. 2002. Influence of climate variability on plant production and N-mineralization in Central US grasslands. Journal of Vegetation Science 13: 383-394.


(Values in parentheses indicate percentage allocated to my research program)

i). Nationally Competitive

D.F. Westneat (PI), J. Bouwma-Gearhart (Co-PI), and 10 core faculty members (M. Arthur, V. Cassone, P. Crowley, C. Fox, G. Garcia-Ramos, J. Krupa, R. McCulley, N. McLetchie, J. Osborn, and C. Sargent). "Suburban Ecology and Invasive Species." National Science Foundation (NSF) - REU Site Program. 2011 - 2014.....$300,000 (3%)


M. Bradford (PI), N. Fierer, and R.L. McCulley (Co-PI‟s). Collaborative Research: Do expected evolutionary trade-offs in enzyme activities manifest at the level of microbial community function? NSF- Ecosystem Science. 2010-2013.....$900,000 (32%)


M. Caldeira (PI), T. David, C. Moura, D. Fangueiro, J. David, R.L. McCulley, and R. Ryal (International Collaborators). CARBOWATSHRUB - Shrub encroachment: effects on carbon, nitrogen, and water cycling. Portugal NSF* (a.k.a. FCT). 2010-2012.....156,401€ (3%)


Moura, C. (PI), R.L. McCulley, and J.H. Kim (International Collaborators). Towards a holistic understanding of shrub encroachment in southern Portugal ecosystems.Portugal NSF* (a.k.a. FCT). 2010 - 2012.....15,000€ (5%)

* These two proposals were nationally competitive within Portugal.


R.L. McCulley (PI). REU Supplement for "Collaborative Research: Decomposition in drylands: Soil erosion and UV interactions.‟ NSF- Ecosystem Science.....$7,500 (100%)


S. Archer (PI), P. Barnes, D. Breshears, R.L. McCulley, and H. Throop (Co-PI‟s). Collaborative Research: Decomposition in drylands: Soil erosion and UV interactions. NSF - Ecosystem Science. 2008-2012.....$1,100,000 (18%)


D. McNear Jr. (PI), R.L. McCulley, and N. Fierer (Co-PI‟s). Understanding endophyte infection effects on soil processes in tall fescue pastures: from rhizosphere to regional scales. USDA-NRI Soil Processes. 2008-2011..... $397,500 (5%)


O. Wendroth (PI), M. Coyne, J. Grove, A. Karathanasis, and R.L. McCulley (Co-PI‟s). Dynamics of soil physical state variables and related processes across a land use gradient in spatial and temporal transition. USDA-NRI Soil Processes. 2008-2010..... $322,000 (5%)


R.L. McCulley (PI). Effects of warming and altered precipitation regime on managed grassland structure and function. U.S. Dept. of Energy - National Institute for Climatic Change Research. 2008-2012..... $375,922 (100%)


R.L. McCulley (PI). Postdoctoral Fellowship: Carbon storage consequences of land use change in the tallgrass prairie region of North America. USDA NRI - Managed Ecosystems. 2005-2007.....$50,000 (100%)


R.L. McCulley (PI) and I.C. Burke (Co-PI). Grassland response to precipitation manipulation. NSF - Dissertation Improvement Grant. 2000-2002.....$10,000 (100%)


ii). Internally Competitive (within Univ. of KY)

R.L. McCulley (PI), S. Hall, B. Leffew, and D. Pelly (Collaborators). Evaluating the spatial pattern and environmental factors that contribute to tall fescue resistance to eradication and re-establishment in native warm season grasslands in Central Kentucky. UK Precision Resource Management Enhancement Grant, 2010 - 2012..... $48,399 (100%)


R.L. McCulley (PI), M. Coyne, E. D‟Angelo, and E. Vanzant (Co-PI‟s). Quantifying N2O, NH3, and CO2 fluxes from different land use types in Kentucky. UK Precision Resource Management Enhancement Grant, 2007 - 2008.....$55,110 (100%)*

* This proposal was used to purchase a piece of equipment, which is housed in my lab, so I have listed it as 100% towards my group, despite the multiple Co-PI‟s on the award.


R.L. McCulley (PI). Determine the consequences of endophyte infection on soil fertility and microbial communities in tall fescue pastures. USDA-Specific Cooperative Agreement, 2007 - 2011..... $50,001 (100%)


R.L. McCulley (PI). Determine the consequences of endophyte infection on soil fertility and microbial communities in tall fescue pastures. USDA-Specific Cooperative Agreement, 2007-2011.....$50,000(100%)


R.L. McCulley (PI). Determine which forage species and/or mixture of species best optimizes pasture ecosystem function in terms of aboveground production and carbon storage, nitrogen retention, and soil trace gas fluxes. USDA-Specific Cooperative Agreement, 2008 - 2012..... $222,822 (100%)

PUBLISHED ABSTRACTS - last two years only (n = 33 total for career)
* Indicates a graduate student, ‡ postdoc, or ** undergraduate students whom I advise. † Indicates presenting author.

1) Hall, S.L.*†, K. Clay, E. Koziol, and R.L. McCulley. 2011. Does endophyte status of tall fescue impact mycorrhizal colonization of native species commonly planted in grassland restorations? Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting, Austin, TX.

2) McCulley, R.L.†, J.A. Nelson, and A.E. Carlisle. 2011. Effects of elevated temperature and additional growing season precipitation on managed grassland carbon storage and flux. Invited talk for an organized oral session at the Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting, Austin, TX.

3) Cooke, A.L.**†, G.B. Brosi*, J.A. Nelson, and R.L. McCulley. 2011. Climate change effects on forage quality of Kentucky hay fields. American Forage and Grassland Council Annual Meeting, French Licks, IN.

4) Iqbal, J. ‡†, J.A. Nelson, A.E. Carlisle, and R.L. McCulley. 2011. Influence of fungal endophyte genotypes on plant diversity and soil-atmospheric trace gas fluxes. Soil Science Society of America Annual Meeting, San Antonio, TX.

5) Brosi, G.B. *†, J.A. Nelson, L.P. Bush, and R.L. McCulley. 2010. Will Neotyphodium infection influence tall fescue response to climate change? International Symposium on Fungal Endophytes of Grasses, Lexington, KY.

6) Hall., S.L. *†, R.L. McCulley, R.J. Barney, and T.D. Phillips. 2010. Fungal endophyte symbiosis, prescribed fire, and water availability on tall fescue. Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting, Pittsburgh, PA.

7) Rúa, M.A. *†, R.L. McCulley, and C.E. Mitchell. 2010. Endophytic fungi and climate change drivers interact to alter virus prevalence in grasses. Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting, Pittsburgh, PA.

8) Weand, M.P., M.A. Arthur, G.M. Lovett, R.L. McCulley, and K.C. Weathers. 2010. Tree species and nitrogen additions alter forest floor microbial communities and extra-cellular enzyme activities. Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting, Pittsburgh, PA.

9) Poulette, M.M., M.A. Arthur, R.L. McCulley, and J.A. Nelson. 2010. There goes the neighborhood: the impact of the invasive shrub Lonicera maackii on nutrient cycling, decomposition dynamics, and the decomposer community. Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting, Pittsburgh, PA.

10) Gilliam, F.S. and R.L. McCulley. 2010. Soil microbial communities and nitrogen dynamics along a weathering gradient in an N-saturated hardwood forest watershed. Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting, Pittsburgh, PA.


A) Courses Taught:

PLS 104 - Plants, Soil, & People: A Global Perspective (3 credit hours)
Spring semesters 2008 - 2011

PLS 597 - Agroecology (3 credit hours)
Spring 2010 & 2011

GEN 300 - Climate Change and Agriculture (1 credit hour)
Spring 2010 & 2011

B) Graduate Students:

i) Advised
• Jacob Siegrist, M.S. in Plant & Soil Science, 2006 - 2008. Thesis: "The Endophyte Effect: Ecosystem      Consequences of the Tall Fescue-Fungal Endophyte Symbiosis"

• Glade Brosi, M.S. candidate in Plant & Soil Science, 2008 - 2010. Thesis: "The Response of Tall Fescue and its Fungal Endophyte to Climate Change"

• Sarah Hall, Ph.D. candidate in Crop Science, 2008 - 2011. Dissertation: "Restoration of Tall Fescue Pastures to Native Warm Season Grasslands: Does a Fungal Endophyte Symbiosis Play a Role in Restoration Success"

• Cody Burton, M.S. candidate in Plant & Soil Science, 2009 - 2011. Thesis: "Effects of Long-term Cattle Grazing and Vegetation Type on Soil Microbial Communities in Dryland Systems."

• Lindsay Slaughter, M.S. candidate in Plant & Soil Science, 2010 - present. Thesis: "Climate change effects on soil microbial communities of a managed grassland"

• Ben Leffew, M.S. candidate in Plant & Soil Science, 2010 - present. Thesis: "Landscape factors governing the success of pasture renovation to warm season native grasslands in Kentucky"

• Marie Bourguinon, M.S. candidate in Plant & Soil Science, 2011 - present.

ii) Committee Member

• Linda McClanahan - M.S. in Crop Science, completed 2007.
• Caitlin Kovzelove - M.S. in Plant & Soil Science, completed 2007.
• Sarah Hall - M.S. in Forestry, completed 2007.
• Laura Schwer - M.S. in Plant & Soil Science, completed 2011.
• Megan Poulette - Ph.D. in Biology, in progress.
• Jann Fry - Ph.D. in Biology, in progress.
• Deric Miller - Ph.D. in Biology, in progress.
• Megan Rúa - Ph.D. in Curriculum for the Environment and Ecology at UNC, in progress.

iii) International Short-Term Advisor
• Maria Almagro - Ph.D. in Environmental Science from Murcia University, Spain (in progress). She completed an internship in my lab July - October 2008.

iv) Postdoc Advisor
• Javed Iqbal - Ph.D. in Soil Ecology & Environment (awarded July 2009) from Huazhong Agriculture University, Wuhan, China. He was a postdoc in my lab (November 2009 - August 2011).

C) Undergraduate Mentoring:
2 undergraduate Biology students from Asbury College (Brian Bennett and Jarred Earnest) completed independent summer research projects in my lab during the summers of 2007 and 2009. They both presented their findings at the Kentucky Academy of Sciences Annual Meeting and won 1st and 3rd place (respectively) in the Agricultural Science division student presentation competition (a total of 30 students competed each year).

Allison Cook, Biology graduate from Transylvania University, completed a year-long independent study project in my lab during the ‟09-‟10 academic year. She presented her work at the Kentucky Academy of Sciences meeting November 2010 and for the 'Emerging Scientist' competition of the American Forage Grassland Council annual meeting in June 2011, where she won 3rd place.

• My lab has hosted four French ENESAD or AgroSup Dijon interns (undergraduates): Amael Gy (Summer 2008), Alexis Breton (Summer 2009), Marie Bourguignon (Summer 2010, who will start an MS with my group in Aug. 2011), and Marléne Mauras (Summer 2011).

Katie Harvey, our first NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates student. Katie was a senior NRCM/NRES major here at UK when she worked with us (Summer 2010). She worked on the Arizona UV-erosion-decomposition project. She graduated this year and is currently employed with the Sustainable Agriculture program on campus.

• Distinguished Alumnus Award, Graduate Degree Program in Ecology, Colorado State University, October 2009.
• Best Oral Presentation in the "Carbon Cycling and Climate Change" Session of the Front Range Student Ecology Symposium, Colorado State University, 2002.
• Julian Huxley Award for Excellence in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Rice University, 1995.


A) Departmental:
• Co-Chair/Chair of the Crop Science Seminar Series, 2006 - Spring 2009.
• Member of the Distinguished Alumnus Committee, 2006 - Spring 2009.
• Member of Forage Commodity group, 2006 - present.
• Reviewed two departmental Extension Publications.
• Participated in the GenEd PLS 104 proposal development.

B) College:
• Member of Natural Resources Planning Initiative Committee, 2007 - 2008.
• Reviewed 4 Hatch Proposals.
• Panel Review Member for the Precision Resource Management group, 2009.
• Member of the Sustainable Agriculture Curriculum Committee, 2009 - present.
• Elected member of the College‟s Ag Faculty Council, 2011 - present.
• Helped develop a county extension newsletter entitled, "The Scientific Consensus on Global Warming: A Brief Summary for Kentucky Extension Agents,‟ Summer 2011.

C) University:
• Member of the Ecological Research Facility Committee, 2007 - 2008.
• Member of the Tracy Farmer Institute for Sustainability & the Environment (participated in the Educational working group and leading the climate change working group), 2008 - present.
McCulley, pg. 8
• Member of the University Appeals Board, 2010 - present.


D) Scientific Community:

Panel Service - NSF Ecosystem Sciences, Spring 2010 & 2011
USDA-AFRI Sustainable Biofuels, Summer 2010

Editorial Service - Member of the International Board of Advisors to the Editors of New Phytologist (October 2009-2012), where I function as a dedicated subject reviewer for the 'Environment' section.

Reviewer for the following journals: Agriculture, Ecosystems, & Environment; Annals of Applied Biology; Biological Invasions; Ecology; Ecological Applications; Global Change Biology; Journal of Ecology; Journal of Arid Environments; Integrated Pest Science & Management; New Phytologist; Oecologia; Pedosphere; Plant & Soil; Rangeland Ecology & Management; Soil Biology & Biochemistry; Soil Science Society of America Journal; Vadose Zone Journal.

Society Service:
i) Elected and served as President of the Rangeland Ecology section of the Ecological Society of America (July 2009-2010). I organized a Symposium and a Special Session for the 2010 Annual meeting in Pittsburgh.

ii) I represented the Agronomy/Crop Science/Soil Science Society of America at the National Science Foundation‟s 'Coalition on the Hill' held in June 2007 in Washington, D.C. I am also a current member of the Kentucky Core Constituent Scientist Team for this group (2009 - present). I also helped develop this group‟s recent position statement on 'Crop Adaptation to Climate Change.'

iii) I was invited to develop and deliver a 15 minute 'webinar' on grassland management for carbon storage, which the United State Forest Service is developing for a Forest and Grassland Carbon short course that will be made available over the internet, free of charge, to scientists and land managers throughout the world. I participated in a two day workshop to accomplish the peer-reviewing and production of these webinars in Spring 2011. An early version is currently available at:

iv) I organized an oral session entitled, 'Building Bridges: Current Issues in Grassland Science' at the Joint Society of Range Management and American Forage Grassland Council Annual Meeting in Louisville, KY, January 2008.

v) I organized the 'Ecology and Agronomy' session of the 2010 International Symposium on Endophytes of Grasses held in July in Lexington, KY in conjunction with the Mycological Society of America.

2011: University of Oklahoma, Dept. of Botany & Microbiology
         United States Forest Service, Natural Bride State Resort Park, Kentucky
         Cary Institute for Ecosystem Science, New York
         Organized Oral Session, Annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America Meeting
2010: University of Guelph, School of Environmental Sciences
         University of Tennessee, Dept. of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
         University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, Curriculum in the Environment & Ecology
         International Symposium on Fungal Endophytes of Grasses
2009: Rice University, Dept. of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
         Colorado State University, Graduate Degree Program of Ecology
         Georgetown College, Dept. of Biology
2007: Ecological Society of America Meeting, Organized Oral Session
         National Science Foundation Coalition for Hill Staff in Washington, D.C.
2005: University of Kentucky, Dept. of Plant & Soil Sciences
          New Mexico State University, Dept. of Biology
2004: University of New Mexico, Dept. of Biology
         University of Arizona, Dept. of Soil, Water, & Environmental Science
         New Mexico State University, Dept. of Range Science
         COST action 627 Meetings on Carbon Sequestration in European Grasslands, Belgium
         University of Georgia, Institute of Ecology
2003: University of Wyoming, Dept. of Plant Science
2002: Duke University, Dept. of Biology
2001: The Nature Conservancy of Colorado
1998: Texas A&M University, Dept. of Rangeland Ecology & Management

American Geophysical Union, 2003 - present
American Association for Women in Science, 2003 - present
Ecological Society of America, 2003 - present
Society of Range Management, 2003 - present
Sigma Xi, 2002 - present
Soil Science Society of America, 2002 - present










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