Carrie Woods conducts research in the forest canopy.

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., K. Maleta** and K. Ortmann**. (2021) Plant-plant interactions change during succession on nurse logs in a northern temperate rainforest. Ecology and Evolution pdf

Woods, C. L. , A. Bitew Mekonnen, M. Baez-Schon*, R. Thomas**, P. Scull, B. Abraha Tsegay, and C. L. Cardelús. (2020). Tree community composition and dispersal syndrome vary with human disturbance in sacred church forests in Ethiopia. Forests 11:1082. pdf 

Tellez, P. H.*, C. L. Woods, S. Formel*, S. A. Van Bael. (2020). Relationships between foliar fungal endophyte communities and ecophysiological traits of CAM and C3 epiphytic bromeliads in a Neotropical rainforest. Diversity 12: 378.

Cardelús, C. L., A. Bitew Mikonnen, K. H. Jensen*, C. L. Woods, M. Baez*, M. Montufar**, K. Bazany**, B. Abraha Tsegay, P. Scull, and W. Peck. (2020). Edge effects and human disturbance influence soil physical and chemical properties in Sacred Church Forests in Ethiopia. Plant and Soil 453:329-342. DOI: 10.1007/s11104-020-04595-0.  pdf

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