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I seek to understand the mechanisms underlying the structure and coexistence of plant communities. I examine how abiotic interactions combine with variations in nutrient acquisition and ecophysiological processes to influence diversity and species distributions. I seek to also understand how those processes are impacted by global environmental problems, such as deforestation and climate change. I am fascinated by species-rich communities and, in particular, those that are threatened by human impacts.
I have conducted much of my research in tropical rainforest canopies as they are one of the most diverse yet poorly understood and threatened ecosystems on the planet. My research has focused on epiphytes, the plants that inhabit the canopy, and has found that microhabitat heterogeneity has a large influence on vascular epiphyte diversity at both the tree and forest scales.
I have several research projects in the temperate rainforests on the Olympic peninsula in Washington State. I am examining the factors that influence the distribution and diversity of non-vascular epiphytes in Big Leaf Maple trees as well as how nurse logs and the non-vascular plant community on them influences seedling and tree communities.
As I am a proponent of observational-based hypothesis development, I like to visit local ecosystems and develop research ideas from those observations. The questions that drive me as a scientist, such as what factors influence a species’ distribution and how coexistence is maintained in communities, are broad and can be applied to any ecosystem and organism. Students that work with me can work on research projects that we design together or can develop their own research projects guided by their observations.
Woods, C. L., L. M. Nevins, and E. J. Didier. (2019). Structural heterogeneity of trees influences epiphyte distributions in a northern temperate rainforest. Journal of Vegetation Science 30:1134-1142. pdf
Cardelús CL, Woods CL, Bitew Mekonnen A, Dexter S, Scull P, Tsegay BA (2019) Human disturbance impacts the integrity of sacred church forests, Ethiopia. PLoS ONE 14(3): e0212430. pdf
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 hemiepiphytic aroid in a lowland tropical forest understory. Plant and Soil. pdf
Woods, C. L. 2017. Primary ecological succession in vascular epiphytes: the species accumulation model. Biotropica. 49:452-460. pdf
Cardelús, C. L., P. Scull, A. Wassie Eshete, C. L. Woods, P. Klepeis E. Kent and I. Orlowska. 2017. Shadow conservation and the persistence of church forests in Northern Ethiopia. Biotropica. 49:726-733. pdf
Woods, C. L., C. L. Cardelús, P. S. Scull, A. Wassie, M. Baez*, and P. Klepeis. 2017. Stone walls and sacred forest conservation in Ethiopia. Biodiversity and Conservation 26: 209-221. pdf
Scull. P, Cardelús, C.L., Klepeis, P., Woods, C.L., Frankl, A., and J. Nyssen. 2017. The resilience of Ethiopian church forests: Interpreting aerial photographs, 1938-2015. Land Degradation and Development, 28:450-458. pdf
Klepeis, P., I. Orlowska, E. Kent, C. L. Cardelús, P. Scull, A. Wassie Eshete, C. Woods. 2016. Ethiopian Church Forests: A Hybrid Model of Protection. Human Ecology, 44:715-730. pdf
Woods, C. L., C. L. Cardelús, and S. J. DeWalt. 2015. Microhabitat associations of vascular epiphytes in a wet tropical forest. Journal of Ecology 103:421–430. pdf
Woods, C. L., and S. J. DeWalt. 2013. The conservation value of secondary forests for vascular epiphytes in central Panama. Biotropica 45:119–127. pdf
Woods, C. L., S. L. Hunt, D. M. Morris, and A. M. Gordon. 2012. Epiphytes influence of transformation of nitrogen in coniferous forest canopies. Boreal Environment Research 17:411–424. pdf
Cardelús, C. L., M. C. Mack, C. L. Woods, J. DeMarco, and K. K. Treseder. 2009. The influence of tree species on canopy soil nutrient status in a tropical lowland wet forest in Costa Rica. Plant and Soil 318:47–61. pdf
* denotes undergraduate co-author
If you are interested in finding jobs, research internships, research experience (REU) positions, field or lab assistant positions or grad school positions in ecology, see the Ecological Society of America’s listserv here: https://listserv.umd.edu/archives/ecolog-l.html