Lisa McCauley

Honorary Postdoctoral Associate

Research Interests:

My overall research interests include modeling the effect of human alterations on natural habitats, species distributions, and organism dispersal. The goals for my research include providing knowledge to improve management and conservation of natural habitats and biodiversity. While my research approach has included a range of techniques from field-based studies to population genetics, I have extensive GIS and statistical modeling experience as it relates to species distributions and dispersal in ecosystems altered by urbanization and agriculture.

My recent post-doctoral experience included evaluating the effects of land use and climate on wetland hydrology and productivity in the Prairie Pothole Region of North Dakota. Wetland drainage in the region has led to higher and more stable water levels in these highly productive and important wetlands, leading to lower productivity and less habitat for waterfowl and shorebirds. My PhD work involved modeling the distribution and loss of cypress (Taxodium distichum) wetlands in central Florida and to determine how urbanization has affected the spatial pattern, recruitment, and dispersal of cypress in isolated wetlands. Despite the current commonality of cypress wetlands in the region, there has been a considerable loss of cypress wetlands due to urbanization and the trees virtually cease recruitment at 20 years post-urbanization.

My current postdoctoral research will include a climate change vulnerability assessment of grassland birds. This will include using climate projections and land-use change models to develop demographically-informed species distribution models in order to estimate species-specific sensitivities and exposures to future climate change. This project will also involve building management scenarios to assist managers in evaluating the efficacy of current grassland bird management and conservation planning in the future. We will produce spatially explicit projections of population dynamics to identify regions that might become more or less suitable for grassland birds in the future.


Office: 608-263-4628


Ph.D. Conservation Biology – 2011 – University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL – Dissertation: Historical loss of cypress wetlands and urbanization effects on recruitment and gene flow of cypress (Taxodium distichum).

M.S. Biology – 2001 – University of Illinois, Springfield, IL – Thesis: Depressional wetland loss in an agricultural landscape.

B.S. Zoology – 1998 – Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL

Selected Publications:

McCauley, L.A., P.F. Quintana-Ascencio, and J.E. Fauth. 2013. Prediction of Carolina willow (Salix caroliniana) invasion of herbaceous marshes, improved by incorporating relative abundance into a species distribution model. In review

McCauley L.A., D.G. Jenkins, and P.F. Quintana-Ascencio. 2013. Land use changes cause delayed reproductive failure in a long-lived wetland tree. Journal of Applied Ecology 50: 25-33.

McCauley, L.A., D.G. Jenkins, and P.F. Quintana-Ascencio. 2013. Cypress (Taxodium distichum) wetland loss and degradation in an increasingly urbanized landscape. Wetlands 33:117-127

Glardon C.G., L.J. Walters, P.F. Quintana-Ascencio, L.A. McCauley, W.T. Stam and J.L. Olsen. 2008. Predicting risks of invasion of macroalgae in the genus Caulerpa in Florida. Biological Invasions 10: 1147-1157.

Jenkins, D.G. and L.A. McCauley. 2006. GIS, SINKS, FILL, and Disappearing Small Wetlands: A Case Study of Unintended Consequences in Algorithmic Development. Proceedings of the 2006 ACM Symposium on Applied Computing.

McCauley, L.A. and D.G. Jenkins. 2005. GIS-based estimates of former and current depressional wetlands in an agricultural landscape. Ecological Applications 15:1199-1208.