Richard H. Richardson

Professor, Section of Integrative Biology

  Education | Research Interests | Instruction | Awards | Publications

(512) 471-4128

BIO 114A
(512) 471-4128

(512) 232-9529


  • B.A., Texas A&M University, 1959
  • M.S., North Carolina State University at Raleigh, 1961
  • Ph.D., North Carolina State University at Raleigh, 1965
  • NIH Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Texas at Austin, 1965-1966

Research Interests

Rangeland and prairies consist of a complex community of plants, animals and microorganisms that live above and below the soil surface. These interact in a highly complex manner, and provide many services to humans (the technophilic-omnivores of the community). Research in the Richardson Lab examines how human activities affect these communities, and seeks to find ways that humans may effectively use the services while nurturing the health of the rangeland and prairie community.

More than 95% of North American rangelands and prairies have been destroyed or severely damaged. Since Texas has over 97% privately owned land, most of its rangelands and prairies must be restored to health while they are used by owners for profit and recreation. Range and prairie lands are often managed with an inadequate understanding of the processes that maintain ecosystem health. The research priorities in Dr. Richardson's lab are to find ways to recover the ecological system integrity while working with land managers.

Much of the research implementation is done in collaboration with land managers, so that the transfer of information is most directly in the hands of those who can best use it. Researchers in Dr. Richardson's lab develop collaborative teams with owners, managers, interested public and government representatives. After building a common value-based goal for a team, it is used to guide management decisions that respond to monitoring criteria specified for each project.

Present projects include promoting the role of dung beetles, native and introduced, in aerating soil and moving organic matter from the surface into the root zone. Subjects of study include the resulting effects on water infiltration, soil biological diversity, and plant diversity and vigor. Dung beetle species are maintained and studied in lab cultures and are grown for release on selected sites.

Soil foodweb analysis is used as an indicator of healthy biodiversity. Soil bacteria, fungi, nematodes, protozoa and microarthropods are analyzed. Changes in these trophic levels indentify fundamental ecosystem responses to management procedures (herbicides, fertilizers, burning, seeding, grazing, plowing, dung beetle activity, etc.) that are subsequently manifested above the ground.


More information - see the 10/30/97 On Campus article, "Longhorns, Aggies unite for on-line learning"

See also:


  • Who's Who in Sciences Higher Education
  • Who's Who Among America's Teachers
  • Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • Fellow, Texas Academy of Science
  • American Society of Naturalists
  • Past President, Texas Academy of Science
  • Sigma Xi
  • NIH Career Development Award
  • Director's Staff Honors Award, U.T. General Libraries, 1998


  • Richardson, R.H. 1995. The New Rangeland Compact (30-minute program), PBS-TV (telecast in US and Australia).
  • Environmental resilience and sustainable conservation. in The Environment and the New Global Order. April 7, 1995.
  • Richardson, R.H. 1982. Phyletic species packing and the formation of sibling (cryptic) species clusters. In Ecological Genetics and Evolution: The Cactus-Yeast- Drosophila Model System. J.S.F. Barker and W.T. Starmer, eds. Academic Press.
  • Richardson, R.H., J.R. Ellison and W.W. Averhoff. 1982. Autocidal control of screwworms in North America. Science 215:361-370.
  • Richardson, R.H. 1978. The Screwworm Problem: Evolution of Resistance to Biological Control. University of Texas Press, Austin.
  • Richardson, R.H. 1974. Effects on dispersal, habitat selection, and competition on a speciation pattern of Drosophila endemic to Hawaii. In Genetic Mechanisms of Speciation in Insects. M.J.D. White, ed. Australia and New Zealand Book Co., Sydney. pp. 140-164.