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Lea A Condon, PhD

Dr. Lea Condon is studying how we can maintain and restore native plant communities with an emphasis on biological soil crusts in the presence of land management and disturbance with the U.S. Geological Survey’s Western Ecological Research Center.

Lea sees disturbances such as fire, floods, and human manipulations of the environment as opportunities to test our understanding of ecosystem function and plant community dynamics. She works closely with land managers, providing science to support their management questions and needs. Having a diverse background of employment, from private consultant for industry to federal research ecologist, she is well-equipped to execute advanced tools for ecosystem restoration, as well as identify and create new analytical and survey tools moving forward. 


Lea has recent research filling the knowledge gap related to biological soil crusts (biocrusts) in the Great Basin ecoregion. This region has been prone towards increasing fire and invasion by non-native annual grasses that provide the fuel for those fires. The negative association between the abundance of biocrusts and non-native annual invasive grasses is one of the most consistent tools that we have in understanding how to minimize these grasses, which are threatening the existence of sagebrush ecosystems. This work encompasses related topics such as the successful restoration of biocrusts, the identification of land management practices that allow for the maintenance of biocrusts, the response of various morphogroups of biocrusts to disturbances as well identifying the associations between morphogroups and plant communities.  

*Disclaimer: Listing outside positions with professional scientific organizations on this Staff Profile are for informational purposes only and do not constitute an endorsement of those professional scientific organizations or their activities by the USGS, Department of the Interior, or U.S. Government