New paper – climatic divergence in cottonwoods shapes plastic responses to both climate and insect herbivory

Congrats to former Lindroth Lab postdoc Mike Eisenring (now a Researcher at the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research) on this great new paper about intraspecific variation in phenotypic plasticity! Mike found that cottonwood trees from cooler climates show higher plasticity in defensive chemistry in response to both climate and herbivory, until you stress them out with a combination of both. Great collaboration between UW Madison and cottonwood ecologists at the NAU Center for Adaptable Western Landscapes, supported by our Bridging Ecology and Evolution NSF grant!


Eisenring, M., R.J. Best, M.R. Zierden, H.F. Cooper, M.A. Norstrem, T.G. Whitham, K. Grady, G.J. Allan, and R.L. Lindroth. 2022. Genetic divergence along a climate gradient shapes chemical plasticity of a foundation tree species to both changing climate and herbivore damage. Global Change Biology. open access link

New paper – community consequences of phenotypic plasticity

J.R. Jeplawy, H.F. Cooper, J. Marks, R.L. Lindroth, M.I. Andrews, Z.G. Compson, C. Gehring, K.R. Hultine, K. Grady, T.G. Whitham, G.J. Allan, and R.J. Best. 2021. Plastic responses to hot temperatures homogenize riparian leaf litter, speed decomposition, and reduce detritivores. Ecology 102:e03461. link


Riparian ecosystems are shaped by leaf litter traits that depend on both local adaptation and plasticity across a climate gradient. MS student Joann Jeplawy used 6 populations and 3 common gardens of Fremont cottonwood across Arizona.Image

She found that trees growing in hot conditions made small and fast-decomposing leaves, whereas cold conditions allowed trees from different origins to express a wide range of traits and decomposition rates. 

And leaf traits and decomp rates matter for aquatic detritivore communities, shaping abundance, diversity, and composition. So, how will climate change affect stream communities? Past evolution and current acclimation in foundation species both play a role!

Congrats Lauren and Joshua!

Congratulations to undergrad researchers Lauren and Joshua! Presenting their poster and video at the 2020 University Virtual Symposium poster, they earned the First Place Award for the Department of Biological Science, made possible through the contribution of the Craig Family Elevate Award for Sciences.

Lab grads!

So proud of the lab’s first MS and BS students graduating this spring!

Joann Jeplawy defended her MS in Environmental Sciences & Policy on The impact of genotypic vs. environmental variation in leaf litter on aquatic community assemblage and decomposition, presented at the Society for Freshwater Science annual meeting, and is off to Denver for paid-post-grad-school employment! It’s going to be a great paper!

Morgan Andrews finished her BS in Environmental Sciences with a Hooper Undergraduate Research Award and a poster presentation at the Society for Freshwater Science on her long list of outside-the-classroom accomplishments, and is headed off to work with the USGS in Washington State. We will miss you Morgan!