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Jeannine Cavender-Bares

Associate Professor


Support the Cavender-Bares Research Fund

Cavender-Bares Lab

Ph.D., Harvard University, 2000

Graduate Faculty Memberships

Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior; Plant Biological Sciences


The unifying goal of my work is to understand how functional traits of plants link evolutionary history to current ecological processes with consequences for ecosystem function and stability on an increasingly human dominated planet. My research program integrates levels of biological organization from cell and tissue function to ecosystem biology with a long-term goal of understanding the origins and organization of plant biodiversity and its consequences. In doing so, I bring together concepts and tools from physiological ecology, ecosystem ecology, and evolutionary biology.

There are several areas in which I am currently working. These include 1) investigation of the historical biogeographic and climatic influences on community assembly and local adaptation of populations in the seasonally dry tropical forests of northwestern Costa Rica, 2) linking phylogenetic history, plant traits, and environmental gradients to understand community organization at multiple scales in North America; 3) addressing how global change impacts biodiversity (in terms of functional and phylogenetic diversity) and ecosystem processes in human dominated landscapes, such as across urban to rural land use gradients, and 4) macro- and microevolution of ecophysiological function in oaks (Quercus). My students are working on a wide array of project that range from the impacts of habitat fragmentation on population genetic structure in live oaks, to the phylogeography of Douglas fir in relation to historical climate change, the mechanisms of niche differentiation in willow species at local and continental scales, and the ecological and evolutionary responses of invasive species to biotic control.

Selected Publications

Cavender-Bares J., Balvanera P., King E. & Polasky S. (2015). Ecosystem service trade-offs across global contexts and scales. Ecology and Society, 20.

Cavender-Bares J., Polasky S., King E. & Balvanera P. (2015). A sustainability framework for assessing trade-offs in ecosystem services. Ecology and Society, 20.

Savage J.A. & Cavender-Bares J. (2013). Phenological cues drive an apparent trade-off between freezing tolerance and growth in the family Salicaceae. Ecology, 94, 1708-1717.

Gugger P.F. & Cavender-Bares J. (2013). Molecular and morphological support for a Florida origin of the Cuban oak. Journal of Biogeography, 40, 632-645.

Koehler K., Center A. & Cavender-Bares J. (2012). Evidence for a freezing tolerance-growth rate trade-off in the live oaks (Quercus series Virentes) across the tropical-temperate divide. New Phytologist, 193, 730-744.

Knapp S., Dinsmore L., Fissore C., Hobbie S.E., Jakobsdottir I., Kattge J., King J.Y., Klotz S., McFadden J.P. & Cavender-Bares J. (2012). Phylogenetic and functional characteristics of household yard floras and their changes along an urbanization gradient. Ecology, 93, S83-S98.

Cavender-Bares J. & Reich P.B. (2012). Shocks to the system: community assembly of the oak savanna in a 40-year fire frequency experiment. Ecology, 93, S52-S69.

Beaulieu J.M., Ree R.H., Cavender-Bares J., Weiblen G.D. & Donoghue M.J. (2012). Synthesizing phylogenetic knowledge for ecological research. Ecology, 93, S4-S13.

Cavender-Bares J., Gonzalez-Rodriguez A., Pahlich A., Koehler K. & Deacon N. (2011). Phylogeography and climatic niche evolution in live oaks (Quercus series Virentes) from the tropics to the temperate zone. Journal of Biogeography, 38, 962-981.

Full publications list in PDF format


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100 Ecology
1987 Upper Buford Circle
St. Paul, MN 55108