Schwinning Lab

Plant Ecology

Yang Tse


Corn and Bean

The mixture of corn and bean is a classic intercrop combination

Intercropping is an ancient farming practice in which crops are going together in a field rather than separately in monocultures. Increased trait diversity and facilitative interactions between species combine to produce higher and/or more stable crop yields over time. Modern agriculture, as practiced in the industrialized nations using industrial fertilizer, insecticides and herbicides, made intercropping all but obsolete. However, the resurgence of low input and organic agriculture has recently rekindled the interest in intercropping in Europe and the USA.

Our lab is interested in intercropping as a way of studying the mechanisms of competition and facilitation between species. Graduate student Sarah Eisenmenger is currently investigating the consequences of varying the timing of corn and bean establishment. She is asking whether small variation in germination timing on the order of days to weeks can affect species interactions and alter their yield relationships. This project is hosted by the Montesino Farm and Ranch in Wimberley, Texas.




Lab News

Recent student presentations

Beth Crouchet and Nathan Custer presented on their research at the 2015 International Research Conference for Graduate Students at Texas State University, November 17 - 18, 2015:

Site factors influencing tree mortality during drought in Texas. Beth Crouchet, Susan Schwinning, Jennifer Jensen, Benjamin Schwartz.

Determining seed transfer zones for Mojave Desert shrubs. Nathan A. Custer, Susan Schwinning, Lesley A. DeFalco, and Todd C. Esque.

Highlighted publications

Scott Havill's paper on "Fire effects on invasive and native warm-season grass species in a North American grassland at a time of extreme drought" was highlighted in the October 2015 issue of Applied Vegetation Science (link).

Other lab news

The following students received awards and recognitions in the academic year 2015/16:

Beth Crouchet and Nate Custer received the Biology Department's "Certificate of Excellence"

Beth Crouchet was inducted into the National Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi

Beth Crouchet received the the Graduate College Scholarship - Science & Engineering and the Lamar and Marilynn Johanson Graduate Endowment Award.

Wesley Collins received a Freeman Center Scholarship.

The lab was awarded two federal grants in 2015:

NSF proposal : DEB-1557176: "Collaborative Research: Hydrological tipping points and desertification of semi-arid woodlands".

The DOD Legacy Award HQ0034-16-2-0006: "Characterizing Mojave Desert shrub ecotypes to establish seed transfer zones for military range restoration".

Podcast interview

In September 2013, Susan was interviewed by Alan Knapp on a paper published in Functional Ecology. Listen to the podcast here.

Contact information
Susan Schwinning
601 University Drive
312 Supple Science Bldg
Texas State University
San Marcos, TX 78666, USA
Phone: (512) 245-3753
Fax: (512) 245-8713

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Biology Department
Texas State University

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Comments on the contents of this site should be directed to Susan Schwinning