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Eddie Watkins

Eddie Watkins

Associate Professor of Biology; Director, Center for Learning, Teaching and Research
Biology, 129 Ho Science Center
p 315-228-7660
The work in my lab focuses on organismal plant ecology and physiology with a primary focus on ferns and their allies. Lab members work across many disciplines to include molecular biology, systematics, ecology, physiology, anatomy, and reproductive biology. I run a diverse ship, but the lab mainly focuses on how the natural world shapes the distribution of species in both modern landscapes and over evolutionary time frames. Central to our work are studies on plant stress physiology and developing a better understanding of the mechanisms behind stress tolerance and recovery.

Learn more about my lab


BS, Auburn University, 1997
MS, Iowa State University, 2000
PhD, University of Florida, 2006
Post Doc, Harvard University, 2008

Teaching Experience

  • OTS Specialty Course: Ferns and lycophytes of Costa Rica, Harvard University
  • Graduate teaching assistantships at University of Florida, Iowa State University, and Auburn University


Biological sciences; botany; plant ecology; plant physiology

Professional Experience

September 2006-June 2008: Harvard University, Mercer Post-Doctoral Fellow (adviser: Michelle Holbrook)

Board Membership

  • 2012: President elect of the America Fern Society
  • 2008-Current: Associate Editor of the America Fern Journal
  • 2008-Current: Council member to the American Institute of Biological Sciences to represent the American Fern Society.
  • 2007-2009: Secretary of the Pteridological Section of the Botanical Society of America


Book Chapters

  • Watkins, Jr., J.E., 2008. Fern Gametophyte Ecophysiology. In Biology and Evolution of Ferns and Lycophytes. Editors, T. Ranker and C. Haufler. Cambridge University Press. Pp 235-267.

Refereed Publications (*Represents undergraduate student author)

  • Watkins, J.E., Churchill, A.C., Holbrook, N.M. March 2016. A site for sori: Ecophysiology of fertile–sterile leaf dimorphy in ferns. American Journal of Botany
  • Testo*, W.L. and Watkins, J.E., Jr. Submission Spring 2012. Stress physiology and ecology of the hart's-tongue fern, Asplenium scolopendrium: mechanisms of rarity. American Journal of Botany
  • Watkins, Jr., J.E. and M.C. Mack. Submission Spring 2012. δ15N Natural abundance and nitrogen use of tropical fern gametophytes and sporophytes. Oecologia
  • Britton*, M.R. and J.E. Watkins, Jr. Submission Spring 2012. Fertile/sterile dimorphy in ferns: long-term consequences of experimental frond removal. Journal of Experimental Botany.
  • Testo*, W.L. and Watkins, J.E., Jr. In Review. Influence of plant size on the ecophysiology of the epiphytic fern Asplenium auritum Sw. from Costa Rica. Oecologia
  • Watkins, Jr., J.E. and M.C. Mack. In Review δ15N Natural abundance and nitrogen use of tropical fern gametophytes and sporophytes. Oecologia
  • Watkins, Jr., J.E., A. Churchill*, and N.M. Holbrook. In Review Physiological and morphological tradeoffs in fertile/sterile dimorphy among ferns. American Journal of Botany
  • Watkins, Jr. J.E. and C. Cardelús. In Press. Ferns in an angiosperm world: Cretaceous radiation into the epiphytic niche and diversification on the forest floor Invited review for the International Journal of Plant Sciences for the special issue: Major Transitions in Angiosperm Ecology and Functional Biology
  • Laurence, W.  J.E. Watkins, Jr. and 48 other authors. 2011. Global warminge, elevational ranges and the vulnerability of tropical biota. Conservation Biology. 144:548-557. doi: 10.1016 /j. biocon.2010.10.010.
  • *Testo, W.L. and J.E. Watkins, Jr. 2011. Comparative development and gametophyte morphology of the hart's-tongue fern,  Asplenium scolopendrium L. J. Torrey Bot. Soc. 138(4):400-408. 2011 
  • Watkins, J.E., W.L. Testo*, and R. Merkhofer*. 2010. In situ gametophyte morphology of the tropical epiphyte: Oleandra articulata. American Fern Journal 101(1):50-56
  • Watkins, Jr., J.E., N.M. Holbrook, M. Zwieniecka. 2010. Hydraulic properties of ferns: consequences for ecological and evolutionary diversification. American Journal of Botany. 97(12):2007-2009.
  • J.E. Watkins, Jr. and C.L. Cardelús. 2009. Habitat differentiation of ferns in a lowland tropical rain forest. American Fern Journal 3:162–175.
  • Watkins, Jr., J.E., C.L. Cardelús, M.C. Mack 2008. Ants mediate nitrogen relations of an epiphytic fern. New Phytologist 150:5-8.
  • Watkins, Jr., J.E., M.C. Mack, T. Sinclair and S.S. Mulkey. 2007. Ecological and evolutionary consequences of desiccation tolerance in tropical fern gametophytes. New Phytologist 176:708-717. Featured cover article with commentary
  • Watkins, Jr., J.E., M.C. Mack, and S.S. Mulkey. 2007. Gametophyte ecology and demography of epiphytic and terrestrial tropical ferns. American Journal of Botany 94(4):701–708. Featured back cover article
  • Watkins, Jr., J.E., P. Rundel, C.L. Cardelús. 2007 The influence of life form on carbon and nitrogen relationships in tropical rainforest ferns. Oecologia 153(2): 225-232.
  • Watkins Jr., J.E. A.Y. Kawahara, S.A. Leicht, J.R. Auld, A.J. Bicksler and K. Kaiser2006. Fern laminar scales protect against photoinhibition from excess light. American Fern Journal 96(3):83–92.
  • Watkins, Jr., J.E., C.L. Cardelús, R. Moran, R.K. Colwell. 2006. Diversity and distribution of ferns along an elevational gradient in Costa Rica. American Journal of Botany 93(1):144-156.
  • Cardelús, C.L., R.K. Colwell, J.E. Watkins, Jr. 2005. Exploring causes of the mid-elevation richness peak in vascular epiphyte species in Costa Rica. Journal of Ecology. 93(6):73-83.
  • Watkins Jr., J.E. and D.R. Farrar. 2005. Origin and taxonomic affinities of the disjunct fern Thelypteris burksiorum (Watkins and Farrar). Brittonia 57(2):183-201.
  • Dute, R.R., D.R. Folkerts, J.E. Watkins, Jr., M.E. Saxon, and R.S. Boyd. 2004. Floral anatomy and pollination biology of Cyrilla racemiflora. Southeastern Naturalist 3(2):309–326.
  • Moran, R. and J.E. Watkins, Jr. 2004. Lomariopsis X farrarii: a new hybrid fern between L. japurensis and L. vestita (Lomariopsidaceae) from Costa Rica. Brittonia 56(3):205-209.
  • Watkins Jr., J.E. and D.R. Farrar. 2002 A new name for an old fern from North Alabama. American Fern Journal 92(2):171-178.
  • Moran, R. and J.E. Watkins, Jr. 2002. The occurrence and morphology of Adiantum × variopinnatum Jermy & T. G. Walker (=A. latifolium Lam. × A. petiolatum Desv.; Pteridaceae). Brittonia 54:57-60.
  • Yoko Y., J.E. Watkins, D.R. Farrar and N. Murakami. 2002. Genetic variation in populations of the morphologically and ecologically variable fern Stegnogramma pozoi subsp. mollissima (Thelypteridaceae). Japanese Journal of Plant Research 115:29-38.
  • Boyd, R.S., M.A. Wall, and J.E. Watkins, Jr. 2000. Correlation between Ni tolerance and Ni hyperaccumulation in Strepanthus (Brassicaceae). Madroño 47(2):7-105.
  • Watkins, J.E. Jr., A. Diamond, R.R. Dute. 2000. Distribution and new county records of the fern: Botrychium lunarioides (Michaux) Sw. in Alabama. Castanea 65(1):64-68.
  • Watkins, J.E. Jr., and R.R. Dute. 1998. Spore morphology of Botrychium lunarioides (Michaux) Sw. American Fern Journal 88:86-92.


  • 2012: Elected as President of the American Fern Society
  • 2010: Elected Fellow of the Linnaean Society
  • 2009: Nominated for the Phi Eta Sigma Professor of the Year award, Colgate University
  • 2006: Mercer Post-Doctoral Fellow, Harvard University
  • 2006: McLaughlin Dissertation Fellowship, University of Florida
  • 2005: Edgar T. Wherry Award for best talk presented to the Pteridological section of the Botanical Society of America (Austin, Texas)
  • 2004: Nominated for University of Florida teaching assistant award
  • 2003: Nominated for University of Florida teaching assistant award
  • 1999: Edgar T. Wherry Award for best poster presented to the Pteridological section of the International Botanical Congress (St Louis, Missouri)
  • 1997: Young Botanist Award, Botanical Society of America
  • 1997: Outstanding undergraduate poster presentation, Alabama Academy of Science