WALTER P. CARSON, Ph.D
Department of Biological Sciences
University of Pittsburgh
Associate Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, September 2000 - present.
Ph.D.: Ecology and Systematics, Cornell University, 1993.
MS: Ecology, Rutgers University, 1988.
BS: Botany, Miami University, 1981.
Empirical tests of predation, and competition theory; Tropical and temperate forest ecology.
PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITIES AND APPOINTMENTS
- 1994-2000 Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Pittsburgh.
- 1993-1994 Postdoctoral Associate: Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University. Advisor: Steve Hubbell.
- 1992-1993 Postdoctoral Associate: Dept. of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, University of Minnesota. Advisor: Dave Tilman.
- 1987-1992 Teaching Assistant and Research Assistant: Cornell University.
- 1984-1987 Teaching Assistant: Rutgers University.
- 1983-1984 Ecologist: Environmental Protection Council of Ghana. Position sponsored by the U.S. Peace Corps.
- 1982-1983 Tropical Biology Instructor: Asankrangwa Secondary School. (Ghana, West Africa). Position sponsored by the U.S. Peace Corps.
MAJOR GRANTS PENDING
- NCEAS Board: Science Advisory Board, National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, 2004-2007.
- Faculty: University of Notre Dame Environmental Research Center, 2005Present.
- Chair, SAB: Chair, Science Advisory Board, Pymatuning Laboratory of Ecology. Linesville, PA, 2007-2010.
- Executive Board: Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, Pittsburgh, PA., 20042007.
- Andrew Mellon Fellow: Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama, 1998 - 2000.
- NSF Panel: National Science Foundation Ecological Studies Panel member (Oct. 1996; Oct. 1997,
Oct. 1999, April, 2000, April, 2001, April 2002, Oct. 2004).
- USDA Panel: US Department of Agriculture Weedy and Invasive Species Program (2003, 2004).
- EPA Panel: US Environmental Protection Agency, Fellowships Panel (2004, 2005).
- Research Associate: Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh, PA. Section of Botany, November 1994 - Present.
- Associated Faculty: Center for Latin American Studies, University of Pittsburgh, 1994 - present.
- Assembly of Delegates: Organization for Tropical Studies, 1997 - Present.
- Associate Editor: Plant Population Ecology, American Midland Naturalist (20002001).
- Subject Editor: Journals of the Ecological Society of America (Ecology, Ecological Monographs), 2006-2009.
- Founding Editor: Plant-Arthropod Interactions, 2006-Present.
- Chair: Research Fellowship Advisory Committee appointed by the President of the Organization for
Tropical Studies. Charged with establishing and conducting a formal panel review process for research grants
for graduate students working at OTS field stations (1999 - 2002).
- External Research and Site Reviewer: Timber and Watershed Laboratory, USDA Northeastern Research
Station, Parsons, WV (Nov. 2000).
- Invited speaker: Research symposium entitled "Ecology of forest systems: challenges and opportunities."
Sponsored by Indiana University and the National Science Foundation (2003).
- Invited speaker: Gordon Conference on Plant-Herbivore Interactions, Ventura, CA 2004.
- Invited speaker: International Congress of Entomology, Brisbane, Australia, 2004.
- Co-organizer: The Pennsylvania Natural History Conference held at the Powdermill Biological Station,
Rector, PA (April 1995, April 1997).
- Co-organizer: Conference entitled "On the impact of white-tailed deer on the biodiversity and
economy of Pennsylvania. Sept. 24 - 26, 1999 at the Radison Hotel in Harrisburg, PA.
- Co-organizer: Symposium entitled " Mechanisms underlying the maintenance of diversity and
mode of regeneration in tropical forests: Tests of alternative hypotheses." 2001 Ecological Society of
America Meeting, Madison, Wisconsin.
- Co-organizer: Symposium entitled "The role of herbivory in the structure and dynamics of terrestrial
ecosystems". 1992 Ecological Society of America Meeting, Honolulu, Hawaii.
- Invited Seminars: 1993-2006: Michigan State University, University of Minnesota; Duquesne University,
University of Georgia, Binghamton University, Miami University, U.S. Forest Service Northeast Experiment Station,
Warren PA, Ohio University, Rutgers University, Mount Holyoke College, University of Chicago; University of Miami,
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama (BCI), Cedar Creek Natural History Area, University of Minnesota,
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama (BCI), University of Minnesota, Bodega Marine Laboratory, University
of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, UC Davis (graduate student nominated speaker), Rice University, La Selva Biological
Station, Costa Rica, University of Florida, (graduate student nominated speaker), Cornell University, Indiana
University, Syracuse University, Dickinson College, University of Vermont, University of Akron, University of
Dayton, Tulane University, Archbold Biological Station, University of New Orleans, Gordon Conference, Venture,
Ca. West Virginia University, Penn State University, Southern Illinois University
- Referee: Acta Oecologia, American Naturalist, American Journal of Botany, American Midland
Naturalist, Australian Journal of Botany, Biological Conservation, Biotropica, Canadian Journal of Forest
Research, The Center for Field Studies, Ecological Applications, Ecology, Ecology Letters, EPA,
Functional Ecology, Journal of Ecology, Journal of Applied Ecology, Journal of the Torrey Botanical
Society, Journal of Vegetation Science, Nature, NSF, Ohio Journal of Science, Oikos, Organization
for Tropical Studies Dissertation Fellowships, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Texas
Journal of Science, Tree Physiology, USDA, Water Research.
MAJOR GRANTS FUNDED
- 2007 -- Integrating competition theory, keystone predation theory, and higherorder interactions:
toward a unified explanation of plant community dominance and relative abundance. NSF ($500,000 -- PI: Walter Carson).
ADDITIONAL GRANTS FUNDED
- 2005 -- The Consequences of I-99 Construction for wetland communities. Pennsylvania Department of
Transportation (~$185,000 to Co-PI Carson).
- 2002 -- On the consequences of removing ground-dwelling mammals for tropical forest diversity:
towards a new conceptual framework. NSF-LTREB ($300,000; 2002-2007; PI: Walter Carson).
- 2000 -- The application of resource competition theory and keystone herbivory to plant
invasions: towards a predictive theory. USDA Biology of Weedy and Invasive Plants Program ($200,000;
2000-2004, PI: Walter Carson).
- 1999 -- Exploring the causes of failed oak regeneration in eastern deciduous forest: tests
of 4 prominent hypotheses. USDA Ecosystem Science Program ($199,500; 1999-2003, PI: Walter Carson, Co-PI:
Dr. Mary Beth Adams).
- 1999 -- The paradox of enrichment in plant assemblages: Tests of three prominent hypotheses.
NSF Ecological Studies Program ($34,118; 1999-2000, PI: Walter Carson).
- 1997 -- On the ecological significance of herbivores and lianas in tropical forests in Panama
and Costa Rica: A comparative and experimental approach. Andrew Mellon Foundation Research Enhancement
Awards in Tropical Biology ($51,794; 1998-2000, This award includes two addendum's in 1998 and 1999
totaling $14,200; PI: Walter Carson).
- 1997 -- Can insect herbivory control grassland composition, productivity, and dynamics: An
alternative view. NSF Ecological Studies Program ($300,000; 1997-2002, PI: Walter Carson, Co-PI's Dave
Tilman and Patrice Morrow).
- 1996 -- The long-term effects of removing insects and ground-dwelling mammals on tropical tree
diversity: a community level experimental test. NSF Long Term Research in Environmental Biology Program
($224,648; 1996-2001; PI: Walter Carson, Co-PI's: Stephen P. Hubbell and Jerome Howard).
MANUSCRIPTS IN PRESS OR IN REVIEW
- 2003 -- The Application of Resource Competition Theory to Invasive Species and Biological
Control. NSF Dissertation Improvement Award ($12,000; PI: Walter P. Carson, Co-PI: Dan E. Bunker).
- 2003 -- The influence of deer, fire and canopy gaps on forest dynamics and regeneration. Mead-Westvaco
Corporation and the US Forest Service ($7500, PI: Walter Carson).
- 2003 -- Integrating competition theory, keystone predation theory, and higher-order interactions: toward
a unified explanation of plant community dominance and relative abundance. Central Research Development Fund,
University of Pittsburgh ($8,000 PI: Walter Carson).
- 2003 -- On the ecology and implications of over-abundance: A case study of too many peccaries at the La
Selva Biological Station. Research Abroad Program; UCIS, Univ. of Pittsburgh ($6000).
- 2001 -- Processes influencing oak regeneration in the eastern deciduous forest biome. Westvaco
Corporation ($10,000, PI: Walter Carson).
- 2001 -- Do herbivores and seed and seedling predators maintain tropical diversity: testing Janzen-Connell
at the community level al La Selva and BCI. Andrew Mellon Foundation is Association with the Organization for
Tropical Studies and The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute ($6000).
- 2001 -- "On the maintenance of diversity in tropical forests: the role of predators and herbivores.
Research Abroad Program; UCIS, Univ. of Pittsburgh ($6834).
- 2000 -- "Evaluation of Galerucella and Hylobius impacts on Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) at
varying levels of site productivity: Combining observational and experimental approaches. "USDA National
Biological Control Institute ($13,300; PI: Walter Carson, Co-PI's Wilbur Mountain and Dan Bunker).
- 2000 -- Designing and implementing an old-growth forest ecotourism trail in north-central Pennsylvania.
Bureau of Forestry, Pennsylvania ($15,000: PI: Walter Carson, Co-PI: Don Gibbon).
- 1999 -- Evaluation of Galerucella and Hylobius impacts on purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) at varying
levels of site productivity: combining observational and experimental approaches. USDA National Biological Control
Institute ($11,000; PI: Walter Carson, Co-PI: Dan Bunker).
- 1999 -- Seed and seedling predation in tropical forests: linking species level processes to forest
biodiversity and conservation. NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates program ($5000; PI: Walter Carson).
- 1999 -- In search of the underlying mechanisms of failed oak regeneration. Westvaco Corporation ($18,000
PI: Walter Carson; additionally another $30,600 for in-kind support for lodging, and personnel from the Westvaco
Forest Resources Information Group to conduct GIS work.
- 1998 -- Do mammals promote tropical tree diversity: an experimental and comparative approach to studying
neotropical rainforests. Central Research Development Fund, University of Pittsburgh ($9000; PI: Walter Carson).
- 1998 -- Seed and seedling predation in tropical forests: Using night scope and infrared video
technology to identify key seedling predators. NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates program ($5000; PI:
- 1997 -- Ecological causes of failed oak regeneration in the eastern deciduous forest biome. Westvaco
Corporation ($24,500; PI: Walter Carson, Co-PI: Rachel Collins).
- 1997 -- Ecological causes of failed oak regeneration in the eastern deciduous forest biome. US Forest
Service Northeast Forest Experiment Station at Parsons WV ($19,438; PI: Walter Carson, Co-PI: Rachel Collins).
- 1997 -- Seed and seedling predation in tropical forests: linking species level processes to forest
biodiversity and conservation. NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates program ($5000; PI: Walter Carson).
- 1997 -- Ecological causes of failed regeneration of an economically important group of timber species.
Environmental Policy Studies Institute, University of Pittsburgh ($4000).
- 1996 -- The community ecology of lianas: a comparative study between the Barro Colorado Nature
Monument, Panama and La Selva, Costa Rica. Andrew Mellon Foundation Research Exploration Awards in Tropical
Biology ($2000; PI: Walter Carson, Co-PI: Stefan Schnitzer).
- 1996 -- Seed and seedling predation in tropical forests: linking species level processes to forest
biodiversity and conservation. Central Research Development Fund, University of Pittsburgh ($10,300).
- 1996 -- State-of-the-Art environmental sensing instrumentation for the Pymatuning Laboratory of Ecology:
Provosts Research Instrumentation Program ($11,980), University of Pittsburgh.
- 1996 -- Controlled environment space for ecological research. NSF Multiple User Biological Equipment
Grant ($98,000; PI: Steve Tonsor, Co-PI's: Susan Kalisz, Tia-Lynn Ashman, and Walter Carson).
Paine, C.E.T., Harms, K.E., Schnitzer, and W.P. Carson. In Review. Weak competition among tropical tree seedlings: implications for species coexistence. Oikos.
Bunker, D. E., Stark, S.C., and W. P. Carson. In Review. Predicting competitive outcomes when real-world plants compete for light: an example with native and invasive species and biocontrol. American Naturalist.
Banta J.A., Stark, S.C., Stevens, M.H., Baumert, A. Pendergast, T. and W.P. Carson. In Review. Application of competition theory to light-limited systems may predict relative abundances in old-field communities. Oikos.
Carson, W.P. and S.A. Schnizer. In Press. Tropical Forest Community Ecology. Blackewell. Due out late 2007 or early 2008.
Schnitzer, S. A., Mascaro, J. and W.P. Carson, In Press. Treefall gaps and the maintenance of plant species diversity in tropical forests. In W. P. Carson and S. A. Schnitzer, Tropical Forest Community Ecology. Blackwell.
Carson, W.P. and S.A. Schnizer. In Press. The Janzen-Connell Hypothesis and tropical forest diversity: A critique. In W. P. arson and S. A. Schnitzer, Tropical Forest Community Ecology. Blackwell.
Peterson, C.J. and W.P. Carson. Processes constraining woody species succession on abandoned pastures in the tropics: on the relevance of temperate models of succession. In W. P. Carson and S. A. Schnitzer, Tropical Forest Community Ecology. Blackwell.
Long, Z., Pendergast, T. and W.P. Carson. In Press. Browsing and failed regeneration of an old-growth forest: the impact of deer on relationships between tree growth and mortality. Forest Ecology and Management.
PUBLICATIONS (PEER REVIEWED)
Royo, A. and W.P. Carson. 2006. On the formation of dense understory layers in forests worldwide: consequences and implications for forest dynamics, biodiversity, and succession. Canadian Journal of Forest Recesarch 36:1345-1362.
Stark, S.C., D. Bunker, and W.P. Carson (2006) A null model of exotic plant diversity tested with exotic and native species-area relationships. Ecology Letters 9:136141
Banta, J.A., A. A. Royo and W.P. Carson. 2005. Plant communities growing on boulders in the Allegheny National Forest: Evidence for boulders as refugia from deer and as a bioassay of overbrowsing Natural Areas Journal 25:10-18.
Royo, A. and W.P. Carson. 2005. The effects of removing ground-dwelling mammals on the diversity and abundance of a tropical understory herbaceous community. Oecologia.145:66-75
Comisky, L., A. Royo, and W.P. Carson. 2005 Deer browsing creates Rock Refugia Gardens on large boulders in the Allegheny National Forest, Pennsylvania. Am. Mid. Nat. 154:201-206.
Kurzal, B., S. Schnitzer and W.P. Carson. 2005. Predicting liana crown location from stem diameter in three Panamanian lowland forests Biotropica. 32:262-266
Bunker, D and W. P. Carson. 2005. Drought stress and tropical forest woody seedlings: effect on community structure and composition. Journal of Ecology 93:794-806
Stevens, M.H.H, Bunker, D. and Schnitzer, S. and W.P. Carson. 2004. Establishment limitation reduces species diversity along an experimental nutrient gradient. Journal of Ecology 92:339-347.
Mascaro, J., S.A. Schnitzer, and W.P. Carson (2004). Liana diversity, abundance, and mortality in a tropical wet forest in Costa Rica. Forest Ecology and Management, 190: 3-15.
Long, Z., C. Mohler and W. P. Carson. 2003. Herbivory, litter accumulation, and plant diversity: applying the Resource Concentration Hypothesis to plant communities. Ecology 84:652-665.
Schnitzer, S. P. B. Reich, B. Bergner, and W. P. Carson. 2002. Herbivore and Pathogen Damage on Grassland Plants: A Test of the Herbivore Uncertainty Principle. Ecology Letters 5:531-539.
Stevens, M.H.H. and W.P. Carson. 2002. Resource quantity not heterogeneity controls plant species diversity. Ecology Letters 5:420-426
Stevens, M.H.H. and W.P. Carson. 2001. Phenological complementarity, species diversity, and ecosystem function. Oikos 92:291-296.
Schnitzer, S. and W.P. Carson. 2001. Gap dynamics and the maintenance of diversity in a tropical forest. Ecology 82:913-919.
Carson, W.P. and R.B. Root. 2000. Herbivory and plant species coexistence: community regulation by an outbreaking phytophagous insect. Ecological Monographs 70:73-99. "Editor's Choice" selection, Science 287:1713, 2000.
Schnitzer, S., J. Dalling, and W.P. Carson. 2000. The impact of lianas on tree regeneration in tropical forest canopy gaps: Evidence for an alternative pathway of gap-phase regeneration. Journal of Ecology 88:655-666. Runner-up: John L. Harper Award, British Ecological Society.
Schnitzer, S.A. and Carson, W.P. 2000. Have we forgotten the forest because of the trees? Trends in Ecology and Evolution 15: 375-376.
Carson, W.P. and R.B. Root. 1999. Top-down effects of insect herbivores during old-field succession: influence on biomass and plant dominance. Oecologia 121: 260-272
Lawson, D., R.S. Inouye, N. Huntly, and W. P. Carson. 1999. Patterns of woody plant abundance, recruitment and growth in a 65-year chronosequence of old-fields. Plant Ecology 145:267-279.
Stevens, M.H.H. and W.P. Carson. 1999. The significance of assemblage level thinning for species richness. Journal of Ecology 87:490 - 502.
Stevens, M.H.H. and W.P. Carson. 1999. Plant density determines species richness along an experimental productivity gradient. Ecology 80: 455-465.
Long, Z.T., W.P. Carson and C.J. Peterson. 1998. Can disturbance create refugia from herbivores: an example with hemlock regeneration on treefall mounds. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society. 125: 165-168.
Peterson, C.J. and W.P. Carson. 1996. Generalizing forest regeneration models: the dependence of propagule availability on disturbance history and stand size. Canadian Journal of Forest Research: 26:45-52.
Belsky, A.J., W.P. Carson, C. L. Jensen, and G. Fox. 1992. Overcompensation in plants: herbivore optimization or red herring? Evolutionary Ecology: 7:109-121.
Vankat, J.L. and W.P. Carson. 1991. Floristics of a chronosequence corresponding to oldfield-deciduous forest succession in southwestern Ohio III. Post disturbance vegetation. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club: 118:385-391.
Cain, M.L. , W.P. Carson, and R.B. Root. 1991. Long-term suppression of insect herbivores decrease rhizome production and number in Solidago altissima. Oecologia: 88:251257.
Facelli, J. and W.P. Carson. 1991. Heterogeneity of plant litter accumulation in successional communities. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 118:62-66.
Carson, W.P. and S.T.A. Pickett. 1990. Role of resources and disturbance in the organization of an old-field plant community. Ecology 71:226-238.
Carson, W.P. and C.J. Peterson. 1990. The role of litter in an old-field plant community: impact of litter quantity in different seasons on plant species richness and abundance. Oecologia 85:8-13.
Carson, W.P. and D.K. Abbiw. 1990. The vegetation of a fire protection site on the Accra Plains, Ghana. African Journal of Ecology 28:143-146.
Peterson, C.J., W.P. Carson, B.C. McCarthy, and S.T.A. Pickett. 1990. Microsite variation and soil dynamics within newly created treefall pits and mounds. Oikos 58:39-46.
Carson, W.P. and G.W. Barrett. 1988. Succession in old-field plant communities: effects of contrasting types of nutrient enrichment. Ecology 69:984-994.
PUBLICATIONS (REVIEWS, REPORTS, AND WORK IN ENCYCLOPEDIAS)
Carson, W.P., Tarek Elnaccash, Christopher Heckel, Thomas H. Pendergast IV,And Michael Urban. The world's rain forests: a primer on uniqueness. A review of Primack, Richard, and Richard Corlett. 2005. Tropical rain forests: an ecological and biogeographical comparison. blackwell, malden, massachusetts. Ecology
Carson, W.P., J.P. Cronin, and Z.T. Long. 2004. A general rule for predicting when insects will have strong top-down effects on plant communities: on the relationship between insect outbreaks and host concentration. In Press in Insects and Ecosystem Functions, Siemann, E., Ed. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.
McGill, David W., R.J. Collins and W.P. Carson. 2004. Response of pin cherry to fire, canopy disturbance and deer herbivory on the Westvaco Wildlife and Ecosystem Research Forest. Van Sambeek, J.W., Dawson, J.O., Ponder, F., Loewenstein, E.F., Fralish J.S., eds. Proceedings of the 13th Central Hardwood Forest Conference. 2002 April 1-3; Urbana, IL. General Technical Report NC-234, 565 p.
Siemann, E., Carson, W.P.. Rogers W.E. and W. Weisser. 2004. Reducing herbivory using insecticides. In Insects and Ecosystem Functions, Siemann, E., Ed. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.
Collins, R.J. and W.P. Carson. 2003. The fire and oak hypothesis: incorporating the effects of deer browsing and canopy gaps. Van Sambeek, J.W., Dawson, J.O., Ponder, F., Loewenstein, E.F., Fralish J.S., eds. Proceedings of the 13th Central Hardwood Forest Conference. 2002 April 1-3; Urbana, IL. General Technical Report NC-234, 565 p.
Carson, Walter P. and Stefan A. Schnitzer. 2003. Deep Rainforest Ecology. A review of "Nouragues: Dynamics and Plant-animal Interactions in a Neotropical Rainforest. Edited by F. Bongers, P. Charles-Dominique, P Forget, and M. Thery. Ecology 84:1340-1341.
Cronin, J. and W.P. Carson. 2002. "Competition". Encyclopedia of Life Sciences. Macmillan.
Schnitzer, S. and W. P. Carson. 1999. Tropical Environments. Pgs. 605-609 in "Encyclopedia of Environmental Science." D.E. Alexander and R.W. Fairbridge (Eds.), Chapman and Hall, London (Invited Publication).
Carson, W.P. 1999. A primer on how to apply to and get admitted to graduate school in ecology and evolutionary biology. Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America 80:246-250. On the ESA Web Page at: http://esa.sdsc.edu/gradschoolprimer.htm.
Stevens, M.H.H., Raikow, D.F., Servedio, M.R., Collins, R.J., Schumann, T.L., Tipper, A.N., and W.P. Carson. 1996. Hutchinson's Chariot: A Review of Species Diversity in Space and Time. Bulletin of the Botanical Society of America 42:4849.
Pickett, S.T.A. and W.P. Carson. 1987. Book review of: Ecology: individuals, populations, communities. M. Begon, J.L. Harper, and C.R. Townsend. Brittonia 39: 407-408.
Carson, W.P. 1985. The ecology of the Accra and Winneba Plains with some aspects of related savanna ecosystems. 1985. Pp. 4-74 in B.W. Garbrah (Ed.) Impact of human activities on the structure and productivity of the savanna ecosystem in Ghana. Ghana National Committee for the Man and Biosphere Program. Volume I, UNESCO/MAB, Accra, Ghana.
Updated: 25 July, 2007