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Catherine Cardelus

Catherine Cardelús

Spring 2018 Courses:
BIOL330: Conservation Biology, MWF 11:20am
BIOL203: Ecology w/ lab, T/H 9:55, Lab H 1:20
BIOL476: Biodiversity, Community & Ecosystem Ecology. TBA

Office Hours
Wed 12:15pm - 1:45pm
Fri 9:30-11
Biology, 205B Olin Hall
p 315-228-7460


BA, Barnard College, 1996; PhD, University of Connecticut, 2002

Teaching Experience


Biodiversity, Evolution and Ecology, Biol181, Offered each semester
Ecology & Lab, BIOL203
Tropical Ecology with Extended Study to Costa Rica BIOL332
Ecosystem Ecology & Lab, BIOL329
Conservation Biology, BIOL330
Research Tutorial, Investigations in Biodiversity, Community & Ecosystem Ecology, BIOL476

Environmental Studies

Biodiversity & Biogeography of Australia, taught at the University of Wollongong, Australia, ENST309
Community-based Environmental Issues, ENST390

Catherine Cardelus and students in a pickup truck


Global Change & You, CoreSP 128/FSEM124 



Plant community & ecosystem ecology; field ecology in both temperate and tropical regions


Church forest aerial view in Ethiopia
I am interested in one of ecology's fundamental questions: What are the patterns of biodiversity? As well as in one of today's most pressing questions: How will biodiversity respond to a changing environment? Most of my work has focused specifically on tropical forest canopies where I use multiple ecological approaches to better understand the factors that control species richness and distribution. I have conducted studies on microclimate, large scale regional and local floristic inventories, and species, community, ecosystem, and phylogenetic-level processes. I am also working in the temperate zone where I study the effects of liming on plant productivity and soil processes. Recently, I began working in Ethiopia in forest patches examining the effects of fragmentation on biodiversity, plant productivity, and soil processes.

See my personal website for more information
Click to hear about my research in Costa Rica
Article about my research in the Colgate Scene

Publications - Peer Reviewed

*denotes student

Cardelús, C.L, C.L. Woods, A. Bitew Mekonnen*, S. Dexter*, P. Scull, Berhanu Tsegay Abraha. (in revision). Disturbance impacts the integrity of sacred church forests, Ethiopia. PlosONE.

Woods, C.L., S.J. DeWalt, C.L. Cardelús, K.E. Harms, J.B. Yavitt, S. Joe Wright. (accepted). Plant nutrient acquisition strategy changes with fertilization. Plant and Soil. 

Cardelús, C.L., P. Scull, A. Wassie, C.L. Woods, P. Klepeis, E. Kent, & I. Orlowska. (2017). Persistence of sacred forests in northern Ethiopia. Biotropica. 49, 5: 725-733. 

Scull, P. C.L. Cardelús, P. Klepeis, C.L. Woods, A. Frankl, J. Nyssen. (2017). The resilience of Ethiopian church forests evidenced from a diachronic analysis using 1930’s aerial photographs. Land Degradation and Development. 28: 450-458.

Klepeis, P., I. Orlowska, E. Kent, C.L. Cardelús, P. Scull, A. Wassie & C.L. Woods. (2016). Ethiopia church forests: a hybrid model of protection. Human Ecology. 44: 715-730.

Woods, C.L., S.J. Dewalt, & C.L. Cardelús. (2015). Microhabitat associations of vascular epiphytes in a wet tropical forest canopy. Journal of Ecology. 103: 421-430.

Oberbillig, D., Randle, D.C., Middendorf, G., & C.L. Cardelús. (2014) Outdoor Learning in Formal Ecological Education – Looking to the Future. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 27: 419-420.

Cardelús, C.L., & G. Middendorf. (2013) Ecological literacy: the educational foundation for informed public decision making. Frontiers in Ecology & the Environment 11: 330-331.

Cardelús, C.L., M. Baimas-George*, M.D. Lowman, & A. Wassie Eshete. (2013). Carbon Sequestration in Ethiopia. Edited volume: Treetops at Risk: Challenges of Global Canopy Ecology and Conservation. 

McCay, T.S., C.L. Cardelús, & M. Neatrour. (2013). Rate of litter decay and litter macroinvertebrates in limed and unlimed forests of the Adirondack Mountains, USA. Forest Ecology and Management 304:254-260.

Cardelús, C.L., P. Scull, J. Hair*, M. Baimas-George*, M.D. Lowman, & A. Wassie Eshete. (2013). A preliminary assessment of Ethiopian sacred groves at the landscape and ecosystem scales. Diversity 5 (2): 320-334.

Watkins, J.E. Jr. & C.L. Cardelús. (2012)Ferns in an angiosperm world: cretaceous radiation into the epiphytic niche and diversification on the forest floor. International Journal of Plant Sciences. 173, 6: 695-710.

Beck, C., K. Klemow, J. Paulson, A. Bernstein, M. Lam, G. Middendorf, J. Reynolds, K. Belanger, C. Cardelús, C.Cid. (2012). Add Ecology to the Pre-Medical Curriculum. Science 335: 1301.

Cardelús, C.L., M. Lowman, & A. Wassie Eshete. (2012). Uniting Church and Science for Conservation. Science. 335: 916-917. PDF

Laurance, W.F., D.C. Useche, L.P. Shoo, S.K. Herzog, M. Kessler, F. Escobar, G. Brehm, J.C. Axmacher, I. C. Chen, L.A. Gámez, P. Hietz, K. Fiedler, T. Pyrcz, J. Wolf, C.L. Merkord, C.L. Cardelús, A.R. Marshall, C. Ah-Ping, G.H. APlet, M. del Coro Armizmendi, W. J. Baker, J. Barone, C.A. Bruhl, R.W. Bussmann, D. Cicuzza, G. Eilu, M.E. Favila, A. Hemp, C. Hemp, J. Homeier, R.B. Huey, J. Hurtado, J. Jankowski, G. Kattán, J. Kluge, T. Kromer, D. Lees, M. Lehnert, J.T. Longino, J. Lovett, P.H. Martin B.D. Patterson, R.G. Pearson, K.S. H. Peh, B. Richardson, M. Richardson, M. Samway, F. Senbeta, T.B. Smith, T. Utteridge, J.E. Watkins, Jr., R. Wilson, S.E. Williams, & C. Thomas. (2011). Global warming and the vulnerability of tropical biota. Biological Conservation. 144: 548-557. PDF

Cardelús, C.L. & M.C. Mack. (2010). The nutrient status of epiphytic ferns, orchids and bromeliads and their host tree along an elevation gradient, Costa Rica. Plant Ecology 207 (1): 25-37. PDF

Cardelús, C.L. (2010). Litter decomposition in the canopy and on the forest floor of three tree species in a tropical rainforest, Costa Rica. Biotropica 42 (3): 300-308. PDF

Cardelús, C.L. & J.E. Watkins, Jr. (2009). Habitat differentiation of ferns in a lowland tropical rainforest. American Fern Journal 99 (3): 162-175. PDF

Cardelús, C.L., M.C. Mack, C.L.  Woods, J. DeMarco & K. Treseder. (2009). Nutrient cycling in canopy and forest floor soils in a lowland tropical wet forest, Costa Rica. Plant and Soil 318 (1): 47-61. PDF

Colwell, R.K., G. Brehm, C.L. Cardelús, A.C. Gilman & J.T. Longino (2008). Global warming, elevational range shifts, and lowland biotic attrition in the wet tropics. Science 258-261. PDF

Watkins, Jr., J.E., C.L. Cardelús & M.C. Mack (2008). Ants mediate nitrogen relations of an epiphytic fern. New Phytologist 180 (1): 5-8. PDF

Robertson, J.M., C.L. Cardelús, and M.I. Williams (2007). Arboreal oviposition site in the fossorial snake, Enulius sclateri. Herpetological Review. 38(4): 466-467. PDF

Watkins, Jr. J.E., P. Rundel, & C.L. Cardelús. (2007) The influence of plant life form on carbon and nitrogen relationships in tropical rainforest ferns. Oecologia 153 (2): 225-232. PDF

Cardelús, C.L. (2007). Vascular epiphyte communities in the inner-crown of Hyeronima alchorneoides and Lecythis ampla at La Selva  Biological Station, Costa Rica. Biotropica 39 (2): 171-176. PDF

Watkins Jr., C.L. Cardelús, R.C. Colwell, & R. Moran. (2006). Species richness and distribution of ferns along an elevational gradient in Costa Rica. American Journal of Botany 93 (1) 73-83. PDF

Cardelús, C.L., R.C. Colwell, J.E. Watkins, Jr. (2006). Vascular epiphyte distribution patterns:  explaining the mid-elevation richness peak. Journal of Ecology 94 (1): 144-146. PDF

Cardelús, C.L. & R.L. Chazdon. (2005) Inner-crown microenvironments of two emergent Tree species in a lowland wet forest.  Biotropica 37: 238-244. PDF

Book Chapters 

Cardelús, C.L. (2012). Surveying Epiphytes in Forest Canopies. In Methods in Forest Canopy Research. Eds. M.D. Lowman & T. Schowalter. University of California Press.


Professional Recognition


2017-2019 The Upstate Institute & Sustainability Council, Colgate University: The Impact of White-Tailed Deer on Colgate Forests: Richness. PI Cardelús; Co-PI’s: Fuller, McCay, Scull, Watkins, $18,000.

2015-2018 NSF RUI-CNH Small Grant: Shadow Conservation: What are the Mechanisms of Religious Management for Forest Persistence. PI Cardelús; Co-PI’s: P. Scull, P. Klepeis, E. Kent, A. Wassie Eshete, I. Orlowska, C. Woods. $500,000

2014-2019 MRI: Acquisition of a TXRF spectrometer for Research in Chemistry, Biology, and Geology. PI Rowlett; Co-PI’s: C. Cardelús, R. Fuller, R. April. $102,740

2014-2015 PI on Collaborative Research Proposal: Colgate Picker Interdisciplinary Science Institute: What socio-ecological processes create strong stewardship of church forests of northern Ethiopia. $100,000. Co-PI’s: P. Scull, P. Klepeis, E. Kent, A. Wassie Eshete, I. Orlowska, C. Woods.

2014-2015 Sponsored Research Support Fund. Colgate Research Council, $15,133

2014-2015 Research Council Major Grant, Colgate University: Experimental study of nutrient addition and water exclusion on canopy ecosystem processes and epiphyte community structure. $7,825

2013-2014 PI on Collaborative Research Proposal: Colgate Picker Interdisciplinary Science Institute: Does religious management supersede the socio-ecological drivers of forest change in sacred groves of northern Ethiopia? $90,000. Co-PI’s: P. Scull, P. Klepeis, E. Kent, A. Wassie Eshete, M. Lowman.

2013-2014 Research Council Major Grant, Colgate University: Experimental Study of Nutrient Addition and Water Exclusion on Canopy Processes and Epiphyte Community Structure. $7500

2012-13 The Upstate Institute, Colgate University: Above and Belowground Responses to Acid Rain Mitigation in Adirondack State Park. $5000

2010-13 NSF: Research Initiation Grant: Experimental Study of Canopy Nutrient Limitation on Ecosystem Processes and Community Structure. $187,629

2010 Picker Interdisciplinary Science Institute Grant: Conservation of Ethiopian Church Forests. $5,307.00 ( 

2008-09 NSF Research Starter Grant: Exploring the nutrient dynamics of 
herbaceous taxa from temperate and tropical regions, $50,000

2000-2001 NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant, $5000 

2000 Organization for Tropical Studies Research Grant, $3000

1998 Organization for Tropical Studies, Post-course Grant, $600


2006-2008         Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, South East Alliance for Graduate 
Education and the Professoriate (SEAGEP-NSF), $50,000
2003-2006 Minority Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, NSF, $160,000
2003, 2007 Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, Mellon Foundation, $48,000
2002 Dissertation Research Fellowship, University of Connecticut, $3,000
2001 Multicultural Fellowship, University of Connecticut, $7,500
1998 Multicultural Summer Fellowship, University of Connecticut, $3000
1998-2001 NSF Graduate Student Research Fellowship, $55,000
1998 NSF Minority Graduate Student Research Fellowship (Awarded)
1997-1998 Multicultural Fellowship, University of Connecticut, $15,000
1996 The Grace Potter Rice Fellowship, Columbia University, $4,000
1996 Summer Fellowship, Barnard College, $500

Awards & Honors

2010, 2013 Extended Study Funded for three week trip to Costa Rica Associated with my (Funded 2019) course: Tropical Ecology, BIOL 332. ~$22,000
2007 Travel Award, Ecological Society of America (ESA) and Women 
Evolving Biological Sciences (WEBS), $700
2002 Bamford Award, University of Connecticut, $500
2002 Travel Award, University of Connecticut, $1,200
2000 Biodiversity Award, University of Connecticut, $500
1999 Edgar T. Wherry Award, American Fern Society & BSA, $500
1999 Pilot Study Award, Organization for Tropical Studies, $1500
1998 Bamford Award: Summer, University of Connecticut, $500
1996 Hermann Botanical Prize, Barnard College, $500
1996 Cum Laude, Barnard College
1994-1996 Dean’s List, Barnard College


Distribution and abundance of vascular epiphytes in tropical wet forests: a multiscale approach. Adviser: Dr. Robin L. Chazdon