Paul H. Zedler

Professor of Environmental Studies (Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies)

Senior Scientist, UW Arboretum


Affiliate, Department of Botany

Ph. D. (1968) University of Wisconsin – Madison

Office: 115A Science Hall

Phone: 608-265-8018

Email: phzedler@wisc.edu


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Ecology of shrublands, forests, prairies, and temporary wetlands; fire ecology; restoration and creation of habitat for endangered species; rare species monitoring; conservation and restoration in agricultural landscapes


My research concerns plant community and population ecology, mostly in terrestrial environments. Within this general area I have focused on a variety of specific problems, often involving the response of species to extreme events or stressful habitats. I have a continuing interest in fire ecology especially in Mediterranean-climate shrub communities (chaparral, coastal sage scrub, cypress woodland) and more recently, prairie. The common thread is a search for understanding ecosystem resilience, and the role of plant life history and community processes in determining it. A special case of this is the study of endangered habitats and species, most notably vernal pools and their endemic flora. These concerns have also involved in a number of monitoring projects that track the change in plant populations. A new interest concerns the preservation and enhancement of biodiversity in agricultural landscapes, which may be seen as another aspect of system resilience. As a professor in an institute for environmental studies, I have also been involved in directing interdisciplinary theses that include significant policy and social elements, but always with a connection to issues of the conservation and preservation of natural biodiversity.


My recent teaching has been mostly split between a graduate course in the Land Resources degree program (ES 993) and directing interdisciplinary capstone seminars for undergraduates in the Environmental Studies certificate program (ES 600). Both of these are connected to the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. My affiliate status in the Botany Department allows me to accept students in that program. I also can accept students in the Nelson Institute programs of which the Land Resources program and the Conservation Biology and Sustainable Development program are the most relevant to my research.

My teaching responsibilities in an interdisciplinary institute have stimulated my interest in the general topic of interdisciplinarity and its role in solving environmental problems in general and ecological problems in particular. My current views on this subject are presented in a class handout prepared for the the ES 993 class.

Selected publications:

Zedler, P. H. (in press) Grasslands and fire. In: E. A. Johnson and K. Miyanishi (eds.) Plant Disturbance Ecology: The process and the response. Academic Press, San Diego, CA.

ZEDLER, P. H., AND F. C. REGO. 2006. Regimes do fogo e biodiversidade: respostas dos ecossistemas e alternativas de gest„o. In J. S. Pereira, J. Periera, M. C., F. C. Rego, J. M. Neves, and T. P. da Slilva [eds.], IncÍndios Florestais em Portugal, 199-227. ISA Press, Lisbon.

ZEDLER, P. H., AND C. BLACK. 2004. Exotic plant invasions in an endemic-rich habitat: The spread of an introduced Australian grass, Agrostis avenacea J. F. Gmel., in California vernal pools. Austral Ecology 29: 537-546.

LUKE, C., P. H. ZEDLER, AND S. SHAPIRO. 2004. Fire management along the wildland-urban interface in southern California: A search for solutions at the Santa Margarita Ecological Reserve. Proceedings of the 22nd Tall Timbers Fire Ecology Conference (2001).

ZEDLER, P. H. 2003. Vernal pools and the concept of isolated wetlands. Wetlands 23: 597-607.

DESIMONE, S. A., AND P. H. ZEDLER. 2001. Do native shrub colonizers of unburned southern California grassland fit generalities for woody colonizers from other regions? Ecological Applications 11: 1101-1111.

KEELEY, J. E., AND P. H. ZEDLER. 1998. Evolution of life histories in pines. In D. M. Richardson [ed.], Ecology and biogeography of Pinus, 219-250. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

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Last updated: 19 November 2000