Paul J. CaraDonna, Ph.D.

Paul CaraDonna
Conservation Scientist; population and community ecology of plants and pollinators
(847) 835-6935
Teaching and Research Affiliations:
  • Professor of Instruction, 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
Research Interests:
  • Population & community ecology
  • Importance of species interactions
  • Ecological networks
  • Plant-pollinator interactions
  • Temporal ecology and phenology
  • Ecology of climate change
  • Pollinator declines

Research in the CaraDonna Lab investigates the interplay among species interactions, population dynamics, and community patterns. We use the mutualistic interactions among plants and pollinators as a model system to ask fundamental ecological questions about the importance of species interactions and to understand the ecological consequences of global change (e.g., climate change, biodiversity loss, pollinator declines, urbanization). We are also particularly interested in temporal ecology and the flexibility of species interactions. We address research questions using a variety of approaches including: observational field studies that leverage existing natural variation; field and laboratory experiments that build upon knowledge of this natural variation; analysis of long-term datasets and natural history collections; and quantitative tools like network analysis and simulation models. We also very much value basic natural history and we love working as a collaborative team. These days, most of our research takes place in the Colorado Rocky Mountains at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory and also within The City of Chicago.

Selected Publications:

A handful of selected publications!

The shifting importance of abiotic and biotic factors across the life cycles of wild pollinators. 2022. Ogilvie, J.E. and P.J. CaraDonna. Journal of Animal Ecology

Sodium-enriched floral nectar increases pollinator visitation rate and diversity. 2022. Finkelstein, P.J. CaraDonna, A.M. Gruver, E. Welti, M. Kaspari, and N.J. Sanders. Biology Letters 19:20220016

Seeing through the static: the temporal dimension of plant-animal mutualistic interactions.  2021. CaraDonna, P.J., L. Burkle, B. Schwarz, J. Resasco, T. Knight, G. Benadi, C. Dormann, Q. Fang, J. Fründ, B. Gauzens, C. Kaiser-Bunbury, R. Winfree, and D.P. Vázquez. Ecology Letters 24: 149–161

Chicago Bees: Urban areas support diverse wild bee communities, but with more non-native species compared to suburban areas. Gruver, A.M. and P.J. CaraDonna. 2021. Environmental Entomology 50: 982–994 10.1093/ee/nvab048

Temporal flexibility in the structure of plant-pollinator interaction networks. 
2020. CaraDonna, P.J. and N.W. Waser.  Oikos, 129: 1369-1380. doi:10.1111/oik.07526

Two-year bee, or not two-year bee? How voltinism is affected by temperature and season-length in a high-elevation solitary bee. 2019. Forrest, J.R.K., R. Cros, and P.J. CaraDonna. 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.

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.

Graduate Students:
Justin Bain
Jackie Fitzgerald
Victoria DeLira
Amelia Litz (co-advised)
Alex Zink (co-advised)
Brendan Connolly (co-advised)