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, rare plant dynamics, and rainforest dynamics on the Caribbean island of Dominica. 

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

  • DeWalt, S. J., B. N. Taylor, and K. Ickes. 2015. Density-dependent survival in seedlings differs among woody life-forms in tropical wet forests of a Caribbean island. Biotropica 47:310-319.
  • Woods, C. L., C. L. Cardelús, and S. J. DeWalt. 2015. Microhabitat associations of vascular epiphytes in a wet tropical forest canopy. Journal of Ecology 103: 421-430.
  • DeWalt, S. J., S. A. Schnitzer, K. Ickes, et al. 2015. Biogeographical patterns of liana abundance and diversity. Pages 131-146 in S.A. Schnitzer, F. Bongers, F.E. Putz, and R.J. Burnham, editors. Ecology of Lianas. Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. 
  • Taylor, B., K. Ickes, and S. J. DeWalt. 2014. Seed removal by an introduced scatter-hoarder on a Caribbean island. Caribbean Journal of Science 48:9-17.
  • 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.
  • DeWalt, S. J. 2013. Review of Community Ecology by G. G. Mittelbach. Quarterly Review of Biology 88:237-238.
  • DeWalt, S. J. 2013. Review of Encyclopedia of Invasive Species: From Africanized Honey Bees to Zebra Mussels, Volumes 1 and 2 by S. L. Woodward and J. A. Quinn and Biological Invasions: Economic and Environmental Costs of Alien Plant, Animal, and Microbe Species Second Edition, edited by D. Pimentel. Quarterly Review of Biology 88:37-38.
  • 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, et al. 2010. Annual rainfall and seasonality predict pan-tropical patterns of liana density and basal area. Biotropica 42:309-317.

Recent Courses

  • BIOL 3040 - Biology of Plants
  • BIOL 3080 - Biology of Plants Practicum
  • BIOL 8200 - Community Ecology
  • BIOL 8070 – Readings in Biology (Ecology section; Plant Biology and Ecology section) 

Graduate Students

  • Jason Joines
  • Danielle Zoellner-Kelly