David A. McKenzie


   Assistant Professor
   Department of Biological Sciences
   Campus Box 4050
   Emporia State University
   Emporia, KS 66801

   Phone: 620-341-5617
   Email: dmckenz1@emporia.edu
   Office: Science Hall 157


Ph.D., Ecology, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY. Dissertation: Postfire species shifts, and the growth and regeneration of western red cedar (Thuja plicata), a range margin species, in Glacier National Park, Montana.

M.S. Biology, University of Nebraska – Omaha, Omaha, NE. Thesis: Restoration of Quercus macrocarpa (bur oak) savanna in Iowa’s Loess Hills.

B.A. Environmental Studies (Biology emphasis), Minor: Anthropology, University of Nebraska – Lincoln, Lincoln, NE. Undergraduate Thesis: Botanical biodiversity, distribution, and abundance of the mixed-grass prairie at Cedar Point Biological Research Station.


I am a Plant Ecologist and am particularly passionate about plant community succession, plant distributions, and the ecology of both natural and anthropogenic disturbance. I am also interested in margins of many kinds from large-scale margins such as species range-margins to small-scale margins such as microsite influences on species growth. I focus on understanding how plants and plant communities respond to, and are shaped by, the dynamic world around them. Emporia, Kansas and the surrounding region provides the perfect setting for these kinds of studies because of our variable topography, dynamic weather systems, multiple forms of land use, and various disturbance histories. We also have the juxtaposition of tall, mixed, and shortgrass prairie in the region, as well as the transition from prairie to wooded lowlands in southeast Kansas.

If you are a student and are interested in any of these fields, don’t hesitate to contact me. Also contact me if you are interested in becoming a graduate student at ESU.


Every semester I teach General Biology (GB 100), which is a general education class, and is for non-majors. Each semester I also teach Bioscientific Terminology (GB 325), in which students learn about the roots of scientific words. The skills learned in this class will apply to every other biology class a student takes. I also teach Plant Taxonomy (BO 542) every fall semester. We learn primarily about plant identification, but also dabble in evolutionary relationships between plant groups and the roles that different plant groups play in the environment and for humans. During the 2016 Fall semester I'm also co-teaching a Forensic Botany (GB 459/859) class with Dr. Sundberg. In this class we're looking at how plants are used as forensic evidence, and what the evidence actually represents for the plant. This class is an elective in the Forensic Science program as ESU, but is open to everyone.


McKenzie, D.A. and D.B. Tinker. 2013. A tree-community-level analysis of successional status and gap-phase and postfire regeneration of range-margin Thuja plicata (western redcedar). Canadian Journal of Forest Research 43:119-128.

McKenzie, D.A., T.B. Bragg, and D.M. Sutherland. 2012. Initial changes in species cover following savanna restoration treatments in western Iowa. Great Plains Research 22:163-179.

McKenzie, D.A. and D.B. Tinker. 2012. Fire-induced shifts in overstory tree species composition and associated understory plant composition in Glacier National Park, Montana. Plant Ecology 213:207-224.

McKenzie, D.A. 2005. Plant composition of mixed-grass prairie of Cedar Point Biological Station, Keith County, Nebraska. Transactions of the Nebraska Academy of Science 30:17–23.