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Biological Sciences Profiles

Saara DeWalt

Professor and Chair
Biological Sciences Department

Office: 132C Long (Chair); 338 Long (Research)
Phone: 864-656-1112
Fax: 864-656-0435

Vita: Download CV
Personal Website:

 Educational Background

Ph.D. Biological Sciences
Louisiana State University 2003

A.B. Biology
Brown University 1994

 Courses Taught

BIOL 3040 Biology of Plants
BIOL 3080 Biology of Plants Practicum
BIOL 8200 Community Ecology
BIOL 8070 Readings in Biology - Ecology section


I am a Professor and Chair of the Department of Biological Sciences.

I study plant population and community ecologist, and my research interests include studying exotic, invasive plants in their native and introduced ranges; liana species diversity and distributions; rare plant dynamics; tropical forest succession; and forest dynamics.

I currently am working on a project examining host genotype-specificity of a possible biological control agent and its host weed with funding through the USDA.

I am also working on funded research to study genetic structure and local adaptation in herbaceous plants common to longleaf pine savannahs.

 Research Interests

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?


Woods, C. L., S. J. DeWalt, C. L. Cardelús, K. E. Harms, J. B. Yavitt, and S. J. Wright. 2018. Fertilization influences the nutrient acquisition strategy of a nomadic vine in a lowland tropical forest understory. Plant and Soil 431: 389-399.

Slik, J. W. F. and numerous co-authors including S. J. DeWalt. 2018. A phylogenetic classification of the world's tropical forests. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 115:1837–1842.

Siemann, E., S. J. DeWalt, J. W. Zou, and W. E. Rogers. 2017. An experimental test of the EICA Hypothesis in multiple ranges: invasive populations outperform those from the native range independent of insect herbivore suppression. Annals of Botany 9:1-13.

Chazdon, R. L. and numerous co-authors including S. J. DeWalt. 2016. Carbon sequestration potential of second-growth forest regeneration in the Latin American tropics. Science Advances 2: e1501639.

DeWalt, S. J., K. Ickes, and A. James. 2016. Forest and community structure of tropical sub-montane rain forests on the island of Dominica, Lesser Antilles. Caribbean Naturalist Special Issue 1: 116-137.

Heartsill Scalley, T., S. J. DeWalt, F. Korysko, G. Van Laere, K. Jacobs, S. Panka, and J. Torres. Communication from the Information Sharing Working Group: Agreement for data sharing among Caribbean Foresters. Caribbean Naturalist Special Issue 1: 30-34.

Poorter, L., and numerous co-authors including S. J. DeWalt. 2016. Biomass resilience of Neotropical secondary forests. Nature 530:211-214.

Slik, J. W. F. and numerous co-authors including S. J. DeWalt. 2015. An estimate of the number of tropical tree species. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA) 112: 7472-7477.

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.

Taylor, B. N., 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 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.

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.

Mascaro, J., G. P. Asner, D. H. Dent, S. J. DeWalt, and J. S. Denslow. 2012. Scale-dependency of aboveground carbon accumulation in secondary forests in Central Panama: a test of the intermediate peak hypothesis. Forest Ecology and Management 276: 62-70.

DeWalt, S. 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.

DeWalt, S. 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, M. Martínez-Ramos, J. Mascaro, 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.

Powers, J. S., R. Montgomery, E. C. Adair, F. Q. Brearley, S. J. DeWalt, C. T. Castanho, J. Chave, E. Deinert, J. U. Ganzhorn, M. E. Gilbert, J. A. Gonzalez-Iturbe, S. Bunyavejchewin, H. R. Grau, K. E. Harms, A. Hiremath, S. Iriarte-Vivar, E. Manzane, A. A. de Oliveira, L. Poorter, J.-B. Ramanamanjato, C. Salk, A. Varela, G. D. Weiblen, and M. T. Lerdau. 2009. Decomposition in tropical forests: a pan-tropical study of the effects of litter type, litter placement and mesofaunal exclusion across a precipitation gradient. Journal of Ecology 97: 801-811.

Zou, J., E. Siemann, W. E. Rogers, and S. J. DeWalt. 2008. Decreased resistance and increased tolerance to native herbivores of the invasive plant Sapium sebiferum. Ecography 31: 663-671.

Newton, C. H., L. R. Nelson, S. J. DeWalt, E. A. Mikhailova, C. J. Post, M. A. Schlautman, S. K. Cox, W. C. Bridges, and K. C. Hall. 2008. Solarization for the control of Pueraria montana (kudzu). Weed Research 48: 394-397.


Clemson scientist chasing invasive plant around the world - Clemson media 8/27/2015
Secondary forests key to mitigating climate change - Environmental Monitor 5/24/2016
Regrowing rain forests may help curb climate change more than we thought – Huffington Post 2/5/2016
Carbon capture is substantial in secondary tropical forests – Clemson Media 5/13/2016
Clemson scientists, collaborators working to restore longleaf pine forests - Clemson media 8/6/2016