Thomas J. Givnish


Henry Allan Gleason Professor of Botany and Environmental Studies

Ph.D. (1976) Princeton University • 315 Birge Hall • 608-262-5718 •

Plant ecology and evolution; adaptive radiation and molecular systematics;
phylogeography; physiological ecology; landscape dynamics

My students and I explore several questions involving the interface of ecology, evolution, systematics, and biogeography:

What are the historical processes by which plant species arise, diverge ecologically, and come to occupy different habitats and geographic regions?

How do various features of plant form, physiology, and behavior affect energy capture and growth under different conditions, and thereby result in competitive success in some contexts and not others?

How can adaptations constrain species distributions and help create gradients in the composition, structure, and diversity of communities and landscapes?

What are the roles of spatially coupled, positive and negative feedbacks in creating patterned landscapes, and how might these be important in designing conservation and restoration strategies at large spatial scales?

Our research involves a wide range of terrestrial, wetland, and aquatic systems, and monocot and dicot lineages around the world.  Current projects focus on the following topics:

Press Releases

Assembling the Monocot Tree of Life

Dimensions of Biodiversity Grant

Selected Recent Publications

Givnish TJ, MHJ Barfuss, B Van Ee, R Riina, K Schulte, R Horres, PA Gonsiska, RS Jabaily, DM Crayn, JAC Smith, K Winter, GK Brown, TM Evans, BK Holst, H Luther, W Till, G Zizka, PE Berry, KJ Sytsma.  2011.  Phylogeny, adaptive radiation, and historical biogeography in Bromeliaceae:  Insights from an eight-locus plastid phylogeny.  American Journal of Botany 98: 872-895. pdf

Givnish TJ.  2010.  Ecology of plant speciation.  Taxon 59: 1326-1366. pdf

Givnish TJ.  2010.  Giant lobelias exemplify convergent evolution.  BMC Biology 8:3. pdf

Givnish TJ, M Ames, JR McNeal, MR McKain, PR Steele, CW dePamphilis, JC Pires, DW Stevenson, WB Zomlefer, BG Briggs, MR Duvall, JM Heaney, DE Soltis, PS Soltis, K Thiele, JH Leebens-Mack.  2010.  Assembling the tree of the monocotyledons:  plastome sequence phylogeny and evolution of Poales.  Annals of the Missouri Botanical Gardens 97: 584-616. pdf

Givnish TJ, KC Millam, AR Mast, TB Patterson, TJ Theim, AL Hipp, JM Henss, JF Smith, KR Wood, KJ Sytsma.  2009.  Origin, adaptive radiation and diversification of the Hawaiian lobeliads (Asterales: Campanulaceae).  Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B 276: 407-416. pdf

Lopez OR, K Farris-Lopez, RA Montgomery, TJ Givnish.  2008.  Leaf phenology in relation to canopy closure in southern Appalachian trees.  American Journal of Botany 95: 1395-1407. pdf

Givnish TJ, Volin JC, Owen VD, Volin VC, Muss JD, Glaser PH. 2008. Vegetation differentiation in the patterned landscape of the Central Everglades: importance of local and landscape drivers. Global Ecology and Biogeography 17: 384-402. pdf

Montgomery RA, Givnish TJ. 2008. Adaptive radiation of photosynthetic physiology in the Hawaiian lobeliads: dynamic photosynthetic responses. Oecologia 155: 455-467. pdf

Coop JD, Givnish TJ. 2008. Constraints on tree seedling establishment in montane grasslands of the Valles Caldera National Preserve, New Mexico. Ecology 89: 1101-1111. pdf

Dunn RR, Gove AD, Barraclough TG, Givnish TJ, Majer JD. 2007. Convergent evolution of an ant-plant mutualism across plant families, continents, and time. Evolutionary Ecology Research 9: 1349-1362. pdf

Givnish TJ, Pires JC, Graham SW, McPherson MA, Prince LM, Patterson TB, Rai HS, Roalson ER, Evans TM, Hahn WJ, Millam KC, Meerow AW, Molvray M, Kores P, O’Brien HE, Kress WJ, Hall J, Sytsma KJ. 2005. Repeated evolution of net venation and fleshy fruits among monocots in shaded habitats confirms a priori predictions: evidence from an ndhF phylogeny. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B 272: 1481-1490. pdf

Givnish TJ, Montgomery RA, Goldstein G. 2004. Adaptive radiation of photosynthetic physiology in the Hawaiian lobeliads: light regimes, static light responses, and whole-plant compensation points. American Journal of Botany 91: 228-246. pdf

Patterson TB, Givnish TJ. 2004. Geographic cohesion and parallel adaptive radiations in Calochortus (Calochortaceae): evidence from a cpDNA sequence phylogeny. New Phytologist 161: 253-264. pdf

Givnish TJ, Renner SR. 2004. Tropical intercontinental disjunctions: Gondwana breakup, immigration from the boreotropics, and transoceanic dispersal. International Journal of Plant Sciences 165: S1-S6. pdf

Givnish TJ. 2002 On the adaptive significance of evergreen vs. deciduous leaves: solving the triple paradox. Silva Fennica 36: 703-743. pdf

Copyright notice: PDF's are provided to provide timely dissemination of scholarly research.  Copyrights are retained by the authors and/or publishers.  Anyone downloading the /givnish/pdfs is expected to obey the legal requirements imposed by copyright law, and may not repost these documents without explicit permission from the copyright holder. 


Photographs:  TOP - Portrait of the scientist as a young man among Nymphaea tuberosa; Platanthera leucophaea (Orchidaceae), one of the most rapidly disappearing species in Midwestern wet prairies; species-rich Eucalyptus woodland, Stirling Range, Western Australia; profile of the Great Smoky Mountains in early spring.  BOTTOM - Floral diversity in Rapateaceae; sandstone escarpment, Auyán-tepui, one of the many sandstone plateaus of the ancient Guayana Shield and home to many narrow endemics; Cyanea floribunda, a highly shade-adapted lobeliad, in the Ola`a Tract of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park; false-color satellite image of the central and southern Everglades, showing patterned landscape with streamlined tree islands and a series of water-control structures constructed over the last half-century; Lilium michiganense, a member of the Liliales, one of twelve recognized orders of the monocotyledons.

© 2011 University of Wisconsin Department of Botany

Last updated: 27 November 2011