Saara J. DeWalt

Associate Professor

Contact Information

338 Long Hall
Phone: 864-502-8403
FAX: 864-656-0435


  • Ph.D. Biological Sciences, Minor in  Experimental Statistics, Louisiana State University, 2003
  • A.B. Biology, Brown University, 1994

Research Interests

I study plant population and community ecology, primarily in temperate and tropical forests. I have ongoing projects examining invasive plant ecology and phylogeography, tropical forest succession, global liana ecology, and rainforest dynamics on the Caribbean island of Dominica. New research examines the ecology of Carolina bogmint in the Congaree National Park in SC.

My research uses ecological and molecular genetic techniques to address a number of ecological questions: What are the ecological and evolutionary processes that affect and maintain genetic variation and structure in plant populations? Which current and historical factors determine the diversity and composition of plant communities? What are the roles of herbivores and pathogens in determining plant abundance and distribution on local and broad geographic scales?

Selected Publications

  • Dent, D. H., S. J. DeWalt, and J. S. Denslow. 2013. Secondary tropical forests of central Panama increase in similarity to old-growth forest over time in shade tolerance but not species composition. Journal of Vegetation Science 24: 530-542.
  • Woods, C. L. and S. J. DeWalt. 2013. The conservation value of secondary forests for vascular epiphytes in central Panama. Biotropica 45: 119-127.
  • Mascaro, J., G. P. Asner, D. H. Dent, S. J. DeWalt, and J. S. Denslow. 2012. Scale-dependence of aboveground carbon accumulation in secondary forests of Panama: A test of the intermediate peak hypothesis. Forest Ecology and Management 276:62-70.
  • Park, I., S. J. DeWalt, E. Siemann, and W. E. Rogers. 2012. Differences in cold hardiness between introduced populations of an invasive tree. Biological Invasions 14:2029-2038.
  • DeWaltS. J., E. Siemann, and W. E. Rogers. 2011. Geographic distribution of genetic variation among native and introduced populations of Chinese tallow tree, Triadica sebifera. American Journal of Botany 98:1128-1138.
  • DeWaltS. J., S. A. Schnitzer, J. Chave, F. Bongers, R. J. Burnham, Z. Q. Cai, G. Chuyong, D. B. Clark, C. E. N. Ewango, J. J. Gerwing, E. Gortaire, T. Hart, G. Ibarra-Manríquez, K. Ickes, D. Kenfack, M. J. Macía, J.-R. Makana, J. Mascaro, M. Martínez-Ramos, S. Moses, H. C. Muller-Landau, M. P. E. Parren, N. Parthasarathy, D. R. Pérez-Salicrup, F. E. Putz, H. Romero-Saltos, and D. Thomas. 2010. Annual rainfall and seasonality predict pan-tropical patterns of liana density and basal area. Biotropica 42:309-317.

Recent Courses

  • BIOSC 304 - Biology of Plants
  • BIOSC 308 - Biology of Plants Practicum
  • BIOSC 493 - Food Ecology Senior Seminar
  • BIOSC 820 - Community Ecology
  • BIOSC 871 – Readings in Ecology

Graduate Students

  • Jason Joines
  • Danielle Zoellner-Kelly