Paul J. CaraDonna, Ph.D.

Conservation Scientist; population and community ecology of plants and pollinators
(847) 835-6935
Curriculum Vitae: 
Teaching and Research Affiliations: 
  • Assistant Professor, Plant Biology and Conservation, Northwestern University
  • Graduate School Faculty, Plant Biology and Conservation, Northwestern University
  • Principal Investigator, The Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, Gothic, CO
Selected Professional Associations: 
  • Ecological Society of America
  • American Society of Naturalists
Research Interests: 
  • Community ecology
  • Plant-pollinator interactions
  • Phenology and temporal ecology
  • Ecology of climate change
  • Ecology of native bees
  • Ecological networks

Research in the CaraDonna Lab aims to understand the structure and function of ecological communities and species interactions, mostly with plants and pollinators. In doing so, we explore the interplay among biotic context, abiotic variation, and species’ phenologies. We ask how these factors influence plant and animal populations, their interactions, and community structure from a basic ecological perspective and under rapid anthropogenic change.

We address our research questions using a variety of approaches including: observational field studies that use existing natural variation, field and laboratory experiments that build upon knowledge of this variation, and analytical tools like network analyses and null model simulations. Our research takes place in the City of Chicago, The Colorado Rocky Mountains, and the Desert Southwest.

Selected Publications: 


Reproductive losses due to climate-induced earlier flowering are not the primary threat to plant population viability in a perennial herb. Iler, A.M., A. Compagnoni, D.W. Inouye, J.L. Williams, P.J. CaraDonna, A. Anderson, and T.E.X. Miller. 2019. Journal of Ecology

Two-year bee, or not two-year bee? How voltinism is affected by temperature and season-length in a high elevation solitary bee. Forrest, J.R.K., R. Cross, and P.J. CaraDonna. 2019. The American Naturalist 193: 560–574.

Experimental warming in the field delays phenology and reduces body mass and survival: implications for the persistence of a pollinator under climate change. CaraDonna, P. J., J.L. Cunningham and A.M. Iler. 2018. Functional Ecology 32: 2345–2356.

Atypical flowers can be as profitable as typical hummingbird flowers. Waser, N.M., P. J. CaraDonna, M.V. Price. 2018. The American Naturalist 192: 644–653.

Interaction rewiring and the rapid turnover of plant-pollinator networks. CaraDonna, P. J., W.K. Petry, R.M. Brennan, J.L. Cunningham, N.M. Waser, J.L. Bronstein, and N.J. Sanders. 2017.  Ecology Letters 20: 385–394.

Frost sensitivity of leaves and flowers of subalpine plants is related to tissue type and phenology. CaraDonna, P. J. and J.A. Bain. 2016. Journal of Ecology 104: 55–64.

Phenological responses to climate change do not exhibit phylogenetic signal in a subalpine plant community. CaraDonna, P. J. and D.W. Inouye. 2015. Ecology 96: 355–361.

Phenological shifts and the fate of mutualism. Rafferty, N.E., P. J. CaraDonna, J.L. Bronstein. 2015. Oikos 124: 14–21.

Shifts in flowering phenology reshape a subalpine plant community. CaraDonna, P. J.*, A.M. Iler* and D.W. Inouye. 2014. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 111: 1619–1621. *equal author contributions.

Phenological overlap of interacting species in a changing climate: an assessment of available approaches. Rafferty, N.E., P. J. CaraDonna, L.A. Burkle, A.M. Iler, and J.L. Bronstein. 2013. Ecology & Evolution 3: 3183-3193.

Asynchronous changes in phenology of migrating Broad-tailed Hummingbirds and their early-season nectar resources. McKinney, A.M., P. J. CaraDonna, D.W. Inouye, W.A. Barr, C.D. Bertelsen, and N.M. Waser. 2012. A Ecology 93: 1987-1993.

Reproductive assurance for a rewardless epiphytic orchid in Puerto Rico, Pleurothallis ruscifolia (Orchidaceae, Pleurothallidinae).  CaraDonna, P. J. and J. D. Ackerman. 2012. The Caribbean Journal of Science 46 (2–3): 249-257.

Graduate Students: 
Justin Bain
Andrea Gruver
Jackie Fitzgerald
Amelia Litz (co-advised)
Jane Ogilvie