Associate Professor

Office Location 
Science Hall 324A
Mailing Address 
2083 Lawrenceville Road , Lawrenceville, NJ 08648

Laura Hyatt

A.B., Smith College; Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania. Her research examines the population biology and ecology of invasive plant species. Dr. Hyatt joined the faculty in 2002.


  • 1999-2002 Research Assistant Professor, Postdoctoral Associate, Instructor, SUNY Stony Brook Department of Ecology and Evolution. Stony Brook, NY
  • 1998 Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY
  • 1996 Ph.D Biology, University of Pennsylvania 1989 A. B., Biology, Smith College

Research Interests

Research in Dr. Hyatt's laboratory is aimed at understanding why and how some exotic plants establish populations that grow very rapidly and alter recipient communities and ecosystems. Studying biological invasions has important basic and applied consequences. Not only does an understanding of the ecology of exotic species provide important insights into how complex ecological systems function and but it also assists in the development of intelligent control programs grounded in basic principles of ecological dynamics.

We are also interested in the properties possessed by ecosystems that are especially susceptible to being altered by the introduction of novel species. Bringing these two approaches together gives us a more comprehensive view of the biological invasion process and gives us novel insights into the regulation of all kinds of ecosystems, invaded or not

Research Funding

Merck/AAAS Undergraduate Research Program, awarded to University for undergraduate research in chemistry and biology. $60,000. 2004-2007. National Science Foundation, Environmental Variation and Demographic Effects, $120,434, 2004-2007. NSF/REU Supplement $4,725, Summer 2004

Courses Taught

Principles of Biology: Evolution, Diversity, and Biology of Plants (BIO 116)

Field Natural History (BIO 250) environmental sciences Lab General Ecology (BIO 350) Ecology and Evolution Seminar (BIO 450)

Independent Projects

The main project in this lab is focused on understanding how the availability of limiting resources regulates population growth in the invasive Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard). A. petiolata has begun to invade some intact forest understories, outcompeting native plants for light and resources and by understanding how plant life history is influenced by these resources we can develop highly effective control strategies.

Another project in the lab will concentrate on understanding what properties of natural ecosystems make them susceptible (or immune) to biological invasions. A field experiment is planned to investigate the role of resource turnover in regulating the success of plant introductions in nearby oldfield communities.

Students interested in any aspect of ecology should contact Dr. Hyatt about undertaking independent research. There are many opportunities to do field work and explore the rich natural resources of New Jersey.

It is anticipated that students successful in their research ventures will co-author published, peer-reviewed science manuscripts and attend national scientific conferences.

Literature-based Projects

Although Dr. Hyatt encourages field-based independent work, literature-based research projects are also possible and may cover a broad array of topics. Dr. Hyatt's interests include issues related to global change, conservation, ethnobotany, weed ecology, plant mating systems, the ethics of genetic engineering, the economics of food production, plant secondary compounds, seed and soil ecology including microbe-plant interactions, biological control, and demographic models. Students may also become involved in greenhouse projects, learning horticultural techniques and helping to direct the development of Rider's remarkable plant collection.

Selected Publications

Howard, T.H., J.G. Gurevitch, L.A.Hyatt and M.A. Carriero. Invasibility of forest communities in southeastern New York. In press, Biological Invasions.

Hyatt, L. A., M. S. Rosenberg, T. G. Howard, G. Bole, W. Fang, J. Anastasia, K. Brown, R. Grella, K. Hinman, J. Kurdziel, and J. Gurevitch. 2003. The distance dependence prediction of the Janzen-Connell hypothesis: A meta-analysis. Oikos 103(3):590-602.

Hyatt, L.A. and B.B. Casper. 2000. Seed bank formation during early succession in a temperate deciduous forest. Journal of Ecology 88:516-527.

Sher, A.A. and L.A. Hyatt 1999. The Disturbed Resource-Flux Invasion Matrix for Predicting Plant Invasions. Biological Invasions 1: 107-114.

Hyatt, L.A., A.S. Evans. and C. Baskin. 1999. Annual dormancy cycles in Lesquerella fendleri (Brassicaceae) seeds stored under both field and laboratory conitions. Canadian Journal of Botany 77: 1648-1654.

Hyatt, L.A. 1999. Differences between Seed Bank Composition and Field Recruitment in a Temperate Zone Deciduous Forest. American Midland Naturalist 142:31-38.

Hyatt, L.A. and A.S. Evans 1998. Is Decreased Germination Fraction Associated with Risk of Sibling Competition? Oikos 83:29-35.

Hyatt, L.A. 1998. Spatial patterns and causes of overwinter seed mortality. Canadian Journal of Botany 76: 197-203.

Hyatt, L.A. and J. Gurevitch. 1998. Review: Plant Invasions: Studies from North America and Europe. Quarterly Review of Biology 73:508.

Hyatt, L.A. 1999. Review: Seeds -- Ecology, Biogeography and Evolution of Dormancy and Germination. Quarterly Review of Biology 74:80.

Hyatt, L.A. 2001. Review: Invasive Species in a Changing World. Plant Science Bulletin 47:60.

Casper, B.B, J.C. Cahill and L.A. Hyatt, 1998. Belowground consequences of aboveground crowding in populations of Abutilon theophrasti Medic. New Phytologist 140: 231-238.

Kuniewicz, R. P. and L.A. Hyatt, editors. 1995. Introduction to Cellular and Plant Biology - Biology 101 Lab Manual, University of Pennsylvania. Burgess Publishing, Edina MN.