The Cavender-Bares Lab

Research Interests

  • Physiological ecology of plants
  • Remote sensing of plant diversity and function
  • Application of phylogenetic methods to ecology
  • Evolution of plant function, environmental gradients and local adaptation
  • Phylogeography and conservation
  • Ecosystem services of trees
  • Oaks as a model clade for integrating ecology and evolution

We are interested in how functional traits of plants link evolutionary history to current ecological processes. In particular I seek to understand how the evolutionary and biogeographic history of organisms influences community assembly, species composition and, hence, ecosystem function in the face of global change. Much of our work combines phylogenetic and phylogeographic approaches with studies of plant physiological function to understand forces underlying shifts in stress tolerance among closely related species or among populations of the same species. The lab is engaged in large-scale collaborative efforts to remotely sense biodiversity and understand the ecological and evolutionary causes and consequences of changing diversity. We use spectral biology to integrate across all scales of plant function to understand the causes and consequences of changes in plant diversity.

We embrace all aspects of human diversity and welcome the broad range of perspectives that people from different places, cultural and ethnic contexts, nationalities and walks of life bring to the study of biodiversity to help sustain our planet.

NSF Biology Integration Institute


Advancing Spectral biology in Changing ENvironments to understand Diversity

Wild River State Park on the Saint Croix River

Allison Scott, Lucy Schroeder, Brett Fredericksen, Maria Park, Vinicius Marcilio da Silva, Sally Donovan

Wild River State Park on the Saint Croix River

Jesús Pinto-Ledezma, Maria Park, Megan Erding, Gerard Sapes, Lucy Schroeder, Sandra Durán

2020 Open Access edited volume 2020: Remote Sensing of Plant Biodiversity

Bell Museum of Natural History

We meet the new University of Minnesota President, Joan Gabel

From left: Alejandra Villaseñor, Jeannine Cavender-Bares, Clarissa Fontes, Gerard Sapés, Shan Kothari, Lucy Schroeder, Cathleen Lapadat

2018 The Summary for Policymakers of the IPBES Americas Regional Assessment 

Headwaters of the Mississippi River - Lake Itasca

 Jeannine, Anna Schweiger, Josep Padulles, Shan Kothari, Jen Teshera-Levye, Jesus Pinto Ledezma

In the evening, Jen, as DM, led all of us through a round of Dungeons & Dragons

Fish Lake at Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve

No snow at all on this year's retreat. 

Anna Schweiger, Jeannine Cavender-Bares, Jake Grossman, Jen Teshera-Levye, Beth Fallon, Xiaojing Wei, Isabella Armour, Jose (Dudu) Eduardo Meireles

Lab and friends x-c ski retreat, St Croix State Park

Not much snow this year so we hiked instead.

                 Jeannine Cavender-Bares, Daniel Stanton, Shan Kothari, Anna Schweiger, Cathleen Nguyen

2015 Special Feature on Ecosystem service trade-offs across global contexts and scales in Ecology and Society
based on our Distributed Graduate Seminar in Sustainability Science

Lake Itasca Biological Station

Back row: Vinicius da Silva, Dan Stanton, Dudu and Anna Meireles, Shan Kothari, Laura Williams

Front row: Jeannine Cavender-Bares, Elizabeth Deacon, Xiaojing Wei, Jose Ramirez-Valient, Nick Deacon, Frederick Deacon, Celine Bares and Graham Deacon

Lake Itasca

Beth Fallon, Laura Williams, Xiaojing Wei, Celine Bares, Jeannine Cavender-Bares, Matt Kaproth, Will Pearse, Jake Grossman, Jen Teshera-Levye

2013  Lake Itasca

Xiaojing Wei, Laura Williams, Jake Grossman, Matthew Kaproth, Celine Bares, Beth Fallon, Jeannine Cavender-Bares, Will Pearse

Saint Croix State Park

Jeannine Cavender-Bares, Anne Beulke, Beth Fallon, Laura Williams, Xiaojing Wei & Gina Quiram 

2012 Special issue in Ecology on Integrating ecology and phylogenetics: the footprint of history in modern-day communities

2010  Lake Itasca

Gina Quiram, Alyson Center, Xiaojing Wei, Jessica Savage, Paul Gugger, & Jeannine Cavender-Bares


Paul Gugger, Antonio Gonzalez-Rodriguez, Jessica Savage, Nick Deacon, Jeannine Cavender-Bares


Contact information:

Jeannine Cavender-Bares

Distinguished McKnight University Professor
Dept. of Ecology, Evolution & Behavior
Office: Ecology 216
Phone: 612-624-6337 @CavenderG9