The Cottonwood Ecology Group is an interdisciplinary research team composed of scientists from Northern Arizona University (NAU), Flagstaff; University of California (UC)-Merced; University of Tazmania (UTAS), Australia; University of Tennessee-Knoxville (UTK); University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW); West Virginia University (WVU), Morgantown; and other institutions.
Members of this group who were featured in A Thousand Invisible Cords include
- Gery Allan, Director, Environmental Genetics and Genomics Facility; Associate Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, NAU
- Joe Bailey, Assistant Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UTK
- Catherine Gehring, Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, NAU
- Steve P. DiFazio, Associate Professor, Department of Biology, WVU
- Stephen C. Hart, Professor, School of Natural Sciences, UC
- Richard L. Lindroth, Professor, Entomology; Adjunct Professor, Zoology, UW
- Jane C. Marks, Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, NAU
- Richard Michalet, Professor of Ecology, UMR EPOC, University of Bordeaux 1, France
- Brad Potts, Professor of Forest Genetics, School of Plant Science, UTAS
- Jen Schweitzer, Assistant Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UTK
- Stephen M. Shuster, Professor of Invertebrate Zoology, Department of Biological Sciences, NAU
- Tom Whitham, Regents’ Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, NAU; Executive Director, Merriam-Powell Center for Environmental Research.
The group’s research focuses on the genetic basis of community structure and ecosystem processes in cottonwoods, which are recognized as supporting high biodiversity along North American streams and rivers. These researchers and others in the Cottonwood Ecology Group are working to merge diverse fields of study from molecular genetics to ecosystem modeling with organisms ranging from microbes to insects and mammals. One of their basic findings is that the genetics of individual trees plays an important role in defining a large community of organisms and ecosystem processes such as decomposition and nutrient cycling. This work has contributed to the field of community genetics by linking genes to ecosystems.