Mary Ann Vinton, PhD
Mary Ann Vinton, PhD

Mary Ann Vinton, PhD

Associate Professor
Program Director, Environmental Science - An interdepartmental degree program offering a BS in EVS, a minor in EVS and a minor in Environmental Policy
College of Arts and Sciences

Academic Appointments


  • Biology


  • Associate Professor

Teaching Activity

  • Ecosystem Ecology
  • Environmental Science
  • General Biology - Organismal and Population
  • Terrestrial Ecology and Field Ecology


Dr. Mary Ann Vinton joined the Department of Biology in 1995.  She held the Clare Boothe Luce Chair for Women in Science from 1995-2000 and chaired the Biology department from 2005-2008.  Presently she is an Associate Professor in Biology and Director of the Environmental Science (EVS) Program, an interdepartmental degree program involving 20 faculty members from eight departments and granting a BS in EVS, a minor in EVS and a minor in Environmental Policy.  Her teaching and research interests are in the area of ecology and she teaches courses ranging from introductory biology and environmental science to a senior course in ecosystem ecology.   Research projects revolve around human-caused changes in plant communities and ecosystems in prairies and forests of the Midwestern region.   Human drivers of change include fire suppression, land clearing for agriculture and urban development, altered temperature regimes, and elevated carbon dioxide and nitrogen, all of which have major implications for key attributes of ecosystem health such as biodiversity, nitrogen pollution and carbon storage.   Recent projects have explored these changes, particularly as manifested in plants that have become more common or even invasive under these changed conditions.

Publications and Presentations


  • Vinton, M. A., Burke, I. C., Mosier, A. R., Hook, P. B., Milchunas, D. G., Barrett, J.E., McCulley, R. L., Kaye, J. P., Gill, R. A., Epstein, H. E., Kelly, R. H., Parton, W. J., Yorker, C. M., Lowe, P., Laurenroth, W. K. Soil Organic Matter and Nutrient Dynamics of Shortgrass Steppe Ecosystems, Ecology of the Shortgrass Steppe: Perspectives from Long-term Research, 306-341, 2008


  • Vinton, M.A. Review of: “ Grass: In Search of Human Habitat” by Joe C. Truett. Great Plains Research., Great Plains Research, 21 (2), 2011
  • Vinton, M. A. Review of The National Grassland: A Guide to America's Undiscovered Treasures by Francis Moul. (Book Review), Great Plains Research, 17, 236-237, 2007
  • Vinton, Mary A., Goergen, Erin M. Plant?..Soil Feedbacks Contribute to the Persistence of Bromus inermis in Tallgrass Prairie, Ecosystems, 9, 967-976, 2006
  • Murphy, K. L., Burke, I. C., Vinton, M. A., Lauenroth, W. K., Aguiar, M. R., Wedin, D. A., Virginia, R. A., Lowe, P. N. Regional analysis of litter quality in the central grassland region of North America, Journal of Vegetation Science, 13, 395-402, 2002
  • Vinton, M. A., Kathol, E. S., Vogel, K. P., Hopkins, A. A. Endophytic fungi in Canada wild rye in natural grasslands, Journal of Range Management, 54, 390-395, 2001


  • Vinton, M.A. Urban to Rural Gradients – Exploring Trends in Organismal, Community and Ecosystem Ecology., EcoEd Digital Library, 2013
  • Vinton, M.A. and J. Kenning. 2012. What NOT to read: a lesson in reviewing and critiquing scientific literature using a junk science article on climate change., EcoEd Digital Library, 2012


  • Grasslands: A Natural and Personal History from the Nebraska Sandhills. Environmental Studies Program; University of Nebraska-Omaha; October 27, 2014., 2014
  • Hines, Elizabeth*, Mary Ann Vinton and Colin Smalley*. 2013. The understory tree species, Ostrya virginiana (eastern hophornbeam): A “poster child” for shifting forest composition at the prairie-forest boundary in the central United States. Creighton University Ferlic Scholar Colloquium, Sept. 24, 2013 (also presented during the Alumni Weekend CCAS Open House on Sept. 21), 2013
  • M.A. Vinton, E. Hines* and C. Smalley*. 2013. The understory tree species, Ostrya virginiana (eastern hophornbeam): A “poster child” for shifting forest composition at the prairie-forest boundary in the central United States. Ecological Society of America Conference, Minneapolis, MI, NM, August 4-9, 2013., 2013
  • L. Rice and M.A. Vinton. 2011. The role of light in the success of the invasive tree, Eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana). Nebraska Academy of Sciences, Lincoln, Nebraska, April 2011., 2011

Research and Scholarship

Research and Scholarship Interests

  • Grassland ecology, effects of biodiversity on ecosystem function, invasive plants, plant-soil interactions, effects of nitrogen pollution on ecosystems, environmental science education and pedagogy

Grant Funding Received

  • Elizabeth Hines and M.A. Vinton. 2013. The Current State of Deciduous Forests in the Central Midwest: A Historical and Comprehensive Examination of Proposed Trends of Species Composition Change and Decline, Creighton College of Arts and Sciences Ferlic Program for Undergraduate Research; May-August, 2013; $4200 for student and faculty stipend
  • M.A. Vinton. Travel Grant to Attend Ecological Society of America Conference, Minneapolis, MN Creighton College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Travel Award; Aug. 4-9, 2013; $1200