David Spiering



davidspi at buffalo dot edu

Research interests

  • Restoration ecology, wildlife habitat management, invasive species, urban ecology

Personal statement

I am interested in studying brownfields in Western New York as “novel ecosystems”.  Despite the natural appearance of some abandoned industrial lands, the legacy of heavy use and abuse of the land is apparent if you look closer.  Much of the vegetation is not native and invasive species are abundant and increasing in dominance on these sites.  Soils are a matrix of slag, cinders, debris, garbage and miscellaneous fill, with contaminants such as heavy metals still present.  Within this context, novel ecosystems emerged on brownfield sites which support plant communities and wildlife populations not commonly found in urban settings.  However, managing these ecosystems requires new perspectives than those developed for natural areas or urban greenspaces. 

Classic patterns of plant community succession are not followed when an abundance of non-native species are present and when sites are isolated from sources of native plant propagules.  The use of the pre-disturbance plant community as a restoration goal is challenged when soils and hydrology are altered to the degree where they can no longer support these plant species.  At the other extreme, traditional landscaping and management of these areas as park-like public spaces is far too costly and resource intensive to be sustainable, nor does it promote the ecological benefits of these sites.  Therefore, new goals for ecological restoration need to be developed, new approaches for invasive species and urban wildlife management need to be explored, and even new concepts of natural beauty in urban settings need to be envisioned.  I try to explore this new territory by examining the novel ecosystems that occur on brownfields and finding ways these properties can be turned from liabilities into beneficial urban spaces.


  • BS in Zoology and Conservation Biology (University of Wisconsin, 1999)
  • MS in Ecology (Colorado State University, 2004)

Publications / Presentations


  • Spiering, D.J. (2012). Rewilding. In Craig, R.K., Pardy, B., Nagle, J.C., Schmitz, O., & Smith, W. (Eds.), The Encyclopedia of Sustainability: Vol. 5, Ecosystem Management and Sustainability (pp. 340-343). Great Barrington, Massachusetts: Berkshire Publishing.ISBN: 9781933782164

  • Spiering, D. J. 2011.  Effectiveness of two alternative herbicides compared to a conventional chemical herbicide for control of Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum).  Bulletin of the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences, Volume 40, 49-58.

  • Spiering, D. J.  2009.  Woodpeckers at Tifft Nature Preserve (And Beyond):  A brief review of the habitats and conservation of the woodpeckers in Eastern North America.  Bulletin of the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences, Volume 38, 55-66.
  • Spiering, D. J. and R. L. Knight.  2005.  Snag density and use by cavity-nesting birds in managed stands of the Black Hills National Forest.  Forest Ecology and Management, Volume 214, 40-52.


  • Spiering, D.J. "Effectiveness of alternative herbicides for control of Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum)" Poster presented at the First Terrestrial Invasive Plant Species Conference in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada (2012, August)