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Dr. J. Leighton Reid

FACULTY AFFILIATE    |   Global Change Center

School of Plant and Environmental Sciences

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(540) 231-9775 •


As a restoration ecologist, Dr. Reid is focused on improving outcomes for society and nature in ecosystems that are recovering from disturbance. While ecological restoration is not a substitute for halting greenhouse gas emissions or preserving intact habitat, it is a complementary strategy that can help address the interrelated global challenges of climate change, mass extinction, and the erosion of natural capital. Dr. Reid and his lab group are most interested in questions about how and where ecological restoration can best address these challenges at regional, national, and global scales.

Dr. Reid’s research incorporates field techniques and statistical tools from community and landscape ecology. Dr. Reid has done fieldwork on the West Coast (California, Oregon), the Southeast (Arkansas, Georgia, Missouri, Tennessee, Virginia), Latin America (Costa Rica, Brazil, Ecuador), and Madagascar.

He has worked in temperate and tropical terrestrial ecosystems including grasslands, woodlands, and forests, and with a variety of organisms, including birds, bats, rodents, trees, herbaceous plants, and vascular epiphytes. Dr. Reid is also eager to collaborate with social scientists, economists, and remote sensing experts.

Some current questions in the Reid lab include:

  • What are the best practices for establishing and maintaining native grasslands in northern Virginia?
  • Can keystone fig trees be used to catalyze tropical forest recovery in Latin America?
  • What tree planting techniques are most effective for restoring rainforest in eastern Madagascar?
  • What soil and environmental processes limit the establishment of conservative forbs in restored Missouri woodlands?
  • How long do restored ecosystems persist and why do some persist much longer than others?

Before joining the faculty at Virginia Tech in 2019, Dr. Reid worked for five years as a postdoc and assistant scientist in the Center for Conservation and Sustainable Development at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, Missouri. He was also a postdoc at Oregon State University. Dr. Reid completed his PhD in the Environmental Studies Department at the University of California Santa Cruz and his BS at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee.