Paula M. Schiffman

Paula Schiffman
(818) 677-3350
Office location:
Chaparral Hall 5314



Ph.D. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Research Specialties

I am a terrestrial ecologist who uses quantitative and experimental approaches to address questions about plants and their ecologies.  I am primarily interested in processes and interactions that occur at the community level.  Most of my current research focuses on the ecology of California prairies (= "valley grasslands"), a complicated and spectacularly beautiful vegetation type.  Although my research sometimes involves greenhouse experimentation, most of my data collection is done at field sites in the Carrizo Plain National Monument, a 254,000 acre prairie preserve in eastern San Luis Obispo County.  My students and I are examining relationships between native and invasive alien plant species as well as interactions between these plants and various animals (e.g. giant kangaroo rats, valley pocket gophers, pronghorn antelope).  We are also studying how disturbances (fire, animal burrowing and livestock grazing) affect vegetation composition over time.  Other interests include seed ecology (dormancy and dispersal), phytogeography, Mediterranean-type ecosystems and environmental history.  Because of the relevance of my research to conservation and ecological restoration, I frequently interact with government agencies about habitat management.  I also strive to educate the public about the importance and immediacy of conservation and environmental preservation issues.  Lastly, and perhaps most of all, I am a natural historian and am fascinated by biodiversity.  So, I spend a lot of time exploring and thinking about wildness.

Selected Research Publications

Moroney JR*, Schiffman PM, Brigham CA. 2011. Invasive european annual plants impact a rare endemic sunflower. Madrono 58: 69-77.

Schiffman PM. 2007. Ecology of native animals in California grasslands. Pp. 180-190 in MR Stromberg, CM D'Antonio, JD Corbin (eds.). Ecology and Management of California Grasslands. University of California Press. References.

Schiffman PM, Edwards SW, Wigand PE. 2007. Pleistocene and pre-European grassland ecosystems. Pp. 37-57 in MR Stromberg, CM D'Antonio, JD Corbin (eds.). Ecology and Management of California Grasslands. University of California Press. References.

Schiffman, P. M. 2005. The Los Angeles prairie. in W. Deverell and G. Hise (eds.) Land of Sunshine: An Environmental History of Greater Los Angeles. University of Pittsburgh Press.

Kimball, S.* and P. M. Schiffman. 2003. Differing effects of cattle grazing on native and alien plants. Conservation Biology 17:1681-1693.

Schiffman, P. M. 2000. Mammal burrowing, erratic rainfall and the annual lifestyle in the California prairie: is it time for a paradigm shift? pp. 153-160 in J. E. Keeley, M. Baer-Keeley, C. J. Fotheringham (eds.) 2nd Interface Between Ecology and Land Development in California. U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 00-62.

Meyer, M. D.* and P. M. Schiffman. 1999. Fire season and mulch reduction in a California grassland: a comparison of restoration strategies. Madroño 46:25-37.

Schiffman, P. M. 1997. Animal-mediated dispersal and disturbance: driving forces behind alien plant naturalization. pp. 87-94 in J. O. Luken and J. W. Thieret (eds.) Assessment and Management of Plant Invasions. Springer-Verlag, NY.

Schiffman, P. M. 1997. Wing reduction in island Coreopsis gigantean achenes. Madroño 44:394-395.

Schiffman, P. M. 1994. Promotion of exotic weed establishment by endangered giant kangaroo rats (Dipodomys ingens) in a California grassland. Biodiversity and Conservation 3:524-537.

Current and Select Graduate Students

Joseph Algers

Erin Avina

Christina McNeal

Christopher Bowman-Prideaux: M.S. 2011. Variation among populations of the endangered plant, Astragalus brauntonii. (Now a Ph.D. student at University of Idaho)

Jolene Pucci: Effects Of Invasive Plants On The Endangered Sunflower, Pentachaeta Lyonii Gray. (Now a Ph.D. student at UCLA)

Andrew Ellis: Effects of biological crusts on native and alien plant establishment.

Sarah Kimball: M.S. 2001. Differing effects of cattle grazing on native and alien plants in a California grassland. (Sarah is now Program Coordinator for the Center for Environmental Biology at University of California, Irvine)

Steve Mason: M.S. 1999. Growth of Poa secunda in different site types: ecotypic variation or phenotypic plasticity?

Jamie Kneitel: M.S. 1997. Effects of fire and pocket gopher (Thomomys bottae) disturbances in a California valley grassland.

Marc Meyer: M.S. 1997. Effects of fire season and mulch reduction on a California grassland: a comparison of restoration strategies. (Marc completed his Ph.D. in Ecology at University of California, Davis in 2003. He is currently a research scientist at the USDA Forest Service Sierra Nevada Research Center.)

CSUN Courses

Evolutionary (BIOL 322) 
Plant Ecology (BIOL 407/407L/492N)
Tropical Ecology and Conservation (BIOL 507/507L/592S)
Conservation Biology (BIOL 533/592C)

Required Reading

Evolutionary Biology