New paper from lab alum Sarah Sterner!

With co-advisor Clare Aslan (NAU SES) and co-author Todd Chaudhry (National Park Service), Sarah found that forest management approaches across multiple agencies shapes ecological responses to major wildfires. 

Sterner, S.A.**, C.E. Aslan, R.J. Best, and T. Chaudhry. 2022. Forest management effects on vegetation regeneration after a high severity wildfire: A case study in the southern Cascade range. Forest Ecology and Management 520: 120394. link

Using the Reading Fire as a case study crossing Lassen National Park and Lassen National Forest boundaries, Sarah showed that both management before a fire, such as fire suppression or harvesting, and management after a fire, such as restoration and replanting, shaped the composition and density of forest vegetation. Sarah combined both field surveys and remote sensing to assemble both short and long-term perspectives on fire and forest management, which is increasingly important to understand across the warming American West. You can read her paper here!


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!

New paper on plasticity, predation, plants, and the evolution of coloration in isopods

Thrilled to see Moritz Lürig‘s fantastic dissertation work out in the Journal of Animal Ecology (preprint here)! Supported by the ETH center for Adaptation to a Changing Environment and working in the Matthews lab at Eawag (Switzerland), Moritz looked at both diet and stickleback predation as drivers of camouflage on short and long timescales. More work on the fish side of this equation coming in the future!