D. Lawrence Venable

Professor Emeritus
Larry Venable

Office Location: BSW 504
Lab Location: BSW 501


Positions and Education: 

Professional Preparation 

  • Grinnell College  Biology BA,  1973  
  • University of Texas Austin   Botany PhD, 1979  
  • Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México   Plant Population Ecology 1980-1981  


  • Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, U. of Arizona. 1994-present  
  • Interim Head of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, U. of Arizona. 2004-2005  
  • Associate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, U. of Arizona. 1988-1994  
  • Assistant Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, U. of Arizona. 1982-1988  

Temporary Posts

  • Professeur invité, Muséum National  d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France 2010-2011 
  • NCEAS Sabbatical Fellow 2001-2002  
  • Fulbright Senior Fellow, Mexico 1995-1996 
  • Professeur invité, Laboratoire d’Evolution et Systematique Vegetales,  Université de Paris-Sud, Paris, France 1990 
  • Lady Davis Visiting Professor, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel 1989  

Honors and Awards: 

  • 2012 Visiting Professorship for Senior International Scientists, the Chinese Academy of Sciences 
  • 2016 Mercer Award from Ecological Society of America (with Jennifer Gremer)  
  • 2017 Elected “fellow for life” of the Ecological Society of America  

Editorial Work: 

  • Member of the Editorial Board of Plant Sciences 2014-present 
  • Ad hoc Editor for Ecology 2007-2012 

Research Interests: 

Larry Venable studies plant population and community dynamics and plant reproductive ecology. His work combines the collection of long-term ecological data with a diversity of more short-term focused approaches in attempt to gain synthetic insights in ecology. His work on desert annual plants attempts to build causal chains from environmental variation though biochemical, leaf level and whole plant functional traits to population and community dynamics. His interest in adaptation to variable environments lies in the interplay between bet-hedging, phenotypic plasticity and adaptive genetic change. His theoretical work on plant reproductive ecology deals with aspects of dormancy, dispersal, sex allocation, sexual system evolution, pollen evolution, seed size, hierarchical packaging of reproduction, and the evolution of inflorescence design. He is investigating the evolution of sexual systems in a speciose Mexican tree genus. He is also interested in seed biology from the standpoint of seed banks and germination strategies including seed heteromorphism.

Selected Publications: 

  1. Huang, Z., S. Liu, K. J. Bradford, T. E. Huxman, and D. L. Venable. 2016. The contribution of germination functional traits to population dynamics of a desert plant community. Ecology 97: 250-261.  
  2. Gremer, J. R., and D. L. Venable. 2014. Bet hedging in desert winter annual plants: optimal germination strategies in a variable environment. Ecology Letters 17:380-387. 
  3. Kimball, S., A. L. Angert, T. E. Huxman, and D. L. Venable.  2010.  Contemporary climate change in the Sonoran Desert favors cold-adapted species.  Global Change Biology 16:1555-1565.  
  4. Angert, A. . L, T. E. Huxman, P. Chesson and D. L. Venable. 2009. Functional tradeoffs determine species coexistence via the storage effect. PNAS 106:11641-11645.
  5. Venable, D .L. 1985. The evolutionary ecology of seed heteromorphism. American Naturalist126:577-595.