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Nalini Nadkarni


Graduate Program Membership:

Office/Building: ASB 402
Phone: 360-870-6632
Nadkarni Lab:

Research Statement

How do the diverse and abundant biota and the arboreal soils that they accumulate within the forest canopy interact with whole forests? I carry out research on many aspects of this central question in my long-term research sites in the tropical cloud forest of Monteverde, Costa Rica and the temperate rainforest of the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State. I am also interested in the effects of human activities such as climate change and forest conversion and fragmentation on forest canopy communities, particularly on ecosystem functions such as the interception and retention of water and nutrients, and on their provision of resources to vertebrate and invertebrate forest animals. I also wish to actively contribute to the dissemination of research to non-scientific audiences, particularly those who do not have access to traditional informal science education institutions. I wish to better understand how scientists themselves can be effective communicators to the public, and how carrying out broader impacts activities can be of benefit to both non-scientists and non-scientists in their understanding of the world. Currently, I have active public engagement and accompanying science of learning research programs to enhance the understanding of the scientific enterprise to urban youth, faith-based groups, and incarcerated men and women.

Research Interests

General Interests
Specific Interests
  • Ecology of tropical and temperate forest canopy plants
  • Community and ecosystem ecology of tropical forests
  • Ecological interactions of primary and human-affected landscapes
  • Engagement of science to underserved public audiences

Selected Publications

  • Nadkarni, N. M.1981. Canopy roots: convergent evolution in rainforest nutrient cycles. Science 213: 1024-25 (with cover photograph).
  • Nadkarni, N. M., and T. Matelson. 1989. Bird use of epiphyte resources in neotropical trees. The Condor 69:891-907.
  • Vance, E., and N. M. Nadkarni. 1990. Microbial biomass and activity in canopy organic matter and the forest floor of a tropical cloud forest. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 22:677-684.
  • Nadkarni, N. M., and T. Matelson. 1991. Litter dynamics within the canopy of a neotropical cloud forest, Monteverde, Costa Rica. Ecology 72:2071-82.
  • Bohlman, S. T. Matelson, and N. M. Nadkarni. 1995. Moisture and temperature patterns of canopy humus and forest floor soils of a montane cloud forest, Costa Rica. Biotropica 27:13-19.
  • Clark, K. L., N. M. Nadkarni, D. Schaefer, and H. L. Gholz. 1998a. Cloud water and precipitation chemistry in a tropical montane forest, Monteverde, Costa Rica. Atmospheric Environment 32:1595-1603.
  • Nadkarni, N. M. and R. Solano. 2002. Potential effects of climate change on canopy communities in a tropical cloud forest: an experimental approach. Oecologia 131:580-84.
  • Hietz, P., Wanek, W., Wania, R., and N. M. Nadkarni. 2002. 15N natural abundance in a montane cloud forest canopy as an indicator of nitrogen cycling and epiphyte nutrition. Oecologia. 131: 350-355.
  • Cushing, J. B., B. Bond, R. Dial, and N. M. Nadkarni. 2003. How trees and forests inform biodiversity and ecosystem informatics. Computing in Science and Engineering 5:32-43.
  • Bawa, K.S., W. J. Kress, N. M. Nadkarni, S. Lele, P. H. Raven, D. H. Janzen, A.E. Lugo, P.S. Ashton, & T.E. Lovejoy. 2004. Tropical ecosystems into the 21st century. Science 306:227-228.
  • Nadkarni, N. M. 2006. The moss-in-prison project: disseminating science beyond academia. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 4:442-443.
  • Ulrich. C. and N. M. Nadkarni. 2009. Sustainability research in enforced residential institutions: collaborations of ecologists and prisoners. Environment, Development, and Sustainability 11:815.-825.
  • Rousk, J. and N. M. Nadkarni. 2009. Growth measurements of saprotrophic fungi and bacteria reveal differences between canopy and forest floor soils. Soil Biology and Biochemistry.41:862-865.
  • Nadkarni, M., G. G. Parker, and M. D. Lowman. 2011. Forest canopy studies as an emerging field of science. Forest Science. 68:217�224.
  • Aubrey, D.A., N. M. Nadkarni, and C. P. Broderick. 2013. Patterns of moisture and temperature in canopy and terrestrial soils in a temperate rainforest, Washington. Botany (formerly Canadian Journal of Botany) 91: 739-744.
  • Nadkarni, N. M. and A. Stasch. 2013. How broad are our broader Impacts? Analysis of the National Science Foundation's Ecosystems Program and the Broader Impacts requirement. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. 11:13�19.
  • Sheldon, K., and N. Nadkarni. 2013. Spatial and temporal variation of seed rain in the canopy and on the ground of a tropical cloud forest. Biotropica 45:549�556.
  • Tejo Haristoy, C., D. Zabowski, and N. Nadkarni. 2014. Physical and chemical characteristics of canopy soils of Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) and bigleaf maple (Acer macrophyllum) in the Queets River Watershed, Washington State. Soil Science Society of America 78: S118-S124.

Courses Taught

  • Biol 3960/5960: Biology, Society, and Public Engagement
  • Biol 7064: Advanced Topics in Ecology and Evolution