Stefan A. Schnitzer
Stefan A. Schnitzer
Plant Community Ecology

Ph.D. University of Pittsburgh, 2001
Post-doctoral research associate
Wageningen University, The Netherlands 2001 - Present
University of Minnesota, 2001 - 2003

Office: Lapham S595
Phone: 414-229-3146
FAX: 414-229-3926
Personal Homepage:

Research Interests

I have a variety of research interests, all of which involve the ecology of plant communities and the mechanisms by which species compete, regenerate, and coexist. Most of my research has been in tropical forests; however, I also have projects in temperate forests and grasslands. The main areas of my research are:
  • Experimentally testing theories to explain plant species coexistence and diversity
  • The role of disturbance in the maintenance of plant species diversity
  • Tropical forest ecology
  • Tropical and temperate forest dynamics and regeneration
  • Plant competition
  • The community ecology of lianas (woody vines)
For additional information about my research, including photos and opportunities for graduate and undergraduate research, please see my Research Homepage.

Selected Publications

Schnitzer, S.A. and F. Bongers (2011). Increasing liana abundance and biomass in tropical forests: emerging patterns and putative mechanisms. Ecology Letters, 14: 397-406.

Schnitzer, S.A., J. Klironomos, J. HilleRisLambers, L.L Kinkel, P.B. Reich, K. Xiao, M. Rillig, B.A. Sikes, R. Callaway, S.A. Mangan, E. van Ness, M. Scheffer (2011). Soil-borne microbes drive the classic asymptotic diversity-productivity pattern. Ecology, 92: 296-303.

Schnitzer, S.A., F. Bongers, S.J. Wright (2011). Community and ecosystem ramifications of increasing lianas in neotropical forests. Plant Signaling & Behavior, 6: 598-600.

Schnitzer, S.A., and J. Klironomos (2011). Soil microbes regulate ecosystem productivity and maintain species diversity. Plant Signaling & Behavior, in press.

Mascaro, J. and S.A. Schnitzer (2011). Dominance by the introduced tree Rhamnus cathartica (common buckthorn) may limit carbon storage in Southern Wisconsin forests. Forest Ecology and Management, 261: 545-550.

Mascaro, J., C.M Litton, R.F. Hughes, A. Uowolo, S.A. Schnitzer (2011). Allometric models of aboveground tree biomass: to transform or not to transform. Biotropica, in press.

Lambert, T.D., M.K. Halsey, J. Dittel, S.A. Mangan, E. Delfosse, G.H. Adler, S.A. Schnitzer (2011). First record of Alston’s Woolly Mouse Opossum (Micoureus alstoni) from the canal area of Central Panama. Mammalia, in press.

Schnitzer, S.A. and W.P. Carson (2010). Lianas suppress tree regeneration and diversity in treefall gaps. Ecology Letters 13: 849-857.

Mangan S.A., S.A. Schnitzer, E.A. Herre, K. Mack, M. Valencia, E. Sanchez, J.D. Bever (2010). Negative plant-soil feedback predicts relative species abundance in a tropical forest. Nature 466: 752-756.

Ingwell, L.L., S.J. Wright, K.K. Becklund, S.P. Hubbell, S.A. Schnitzer (2010). The impact of lianas on 10 years of tree growth and mortality on Barro Colorado Island, Panama. Journal of Ecology 98: 879-887.

DeWalt, S.J., S.A. Schnitzer, J. Chave, F. Bongers, R.J. Burnham, Z.Q. Cai, G. Chuyong, D.B. Clark, C. E.N. Ewango, J.J. Gerwing, E. Gortaire, T. Hart, G. Ibarra-Manríquez, K. Ickes, D. Kenfack, M.J. Macía, J.-R. Makana, J. Mascaro, M. Martínez-Ramos, S. Moses, H.C. Muller-Landau, M.P.E. Parren, N. Parthasarathy, D.R. Pérez-Salicrup, F.E. Putz, H. Romero-Saltos, D. Thomas (2010). Annual rainfall and seasonality predict pan-tropical patterns of liana density and basal area. Biotropica 42: 309-317.

Cai, Z.Q., S.A. Schnitzer, F. Bongers (2009). Seasonal differences in leaf-level physiology give lianas a competitive advantage over trees in a tropical forest. Oecologia 161: 25-33.

HilleRisLambers, J., W.S. Harpole, S.A. Schnitzer, D. Tilman, P.B. Reich (2009). The effects of elevated CO2, nitrogen deposition and declining diversity on seed production of prairie grasses and forbs. Ecology 90: 1810-1820.

Sánchez-Azofeifa, G.A., K. Castro, S.J. Wright, J. Gamon, M. Kalacska, B. Rivard, S.A. Schnitzer, J.L. Feng. (2009). Differences in leaf traits, leaf internal structure, and spectral reflectance between two communities of lianas and trees. Remote Sensing and the Environment 113: 2076-2088.

Sánchez-Azofeifa, G.A., M. Kalacska, M.M. do Espírito-Santo G.W. Fernandes, S.A. Schnitzer (2009). Tropical dry forest succession and the contribution of Lianas to Wood Area Index (WAI). Forest Ecology and Management 258: 941-948.

Cai, Z.Q., S.A. Schnitzer, B. Wen, Y.J. Chen, F. Bongers (2009). The liana community in three tropical forest types in Xishuangbanna, SW China. Journal of Tropical Forest Science 21: 252-264.

Schnitzer, S.A., R.A. Londré, J. Klironomos, P.B. Reich (2008). Biomass and toxicity responses of poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) to elevated atmospheric CO2: Comment. Ecology 89: 581-585.

Schnitzer, S.A., S. Rutishauser, S. Aguilar (2008). Supplemental protocol for liana censuses. Forest Ecology and Management 255: 1044-1049.

Paine, C.E.T., K.E. Harms, S.A. Schnitzer, W.P. Carson (2008). Weak competition among tropical tree seedlings: implications for species coexistence. Biotropica, 40: 432-440.
* Winner of the 2009 Biotropica Award for Excellence in Tropical Biology and Conservation.

Garrido-Pérez, E.I., J.M. Dupuy, R. Durán-Garcéa, G. Gerold, S.A. Schnitzer, M. Ucan-May (2008). Structural effects of lianas and hurricane wilma on trees in Yucatan peninsula, Mexico. Journal of Tropical Ecology, 24: 559-562.

Mascaro J., K. Becklund, F. Hughes, S.A. Schnitzer (2008). Limited native plant recruitment in exotic-dominated forests in Hawaiì. Forest Ecology & Management, 256:593-606.

Carson, W.P. and S.A. Schnitzer, Editors (2008). Tropical Forest Community Ecology. Blackwell Publishing, Oxford. 517 pp.

Schnitzer, S.A. and W.P Carson (2008). Tropical forest community ecology: scope of the book and key contributions. Pages: 3-8 in: Tropical Forest Community Ecology, Carson, W.P. and Schnitzer, S.A., eds. Blackwell Publishing, Oxford.

Schnitzer, S.A., J. Mascaro, W.P Carson (2008). Treefall gaps and the maintenance of species diversity in tropical forests. Pages: 196-209 in: Tropical Forest Community Ecology, Carson, W.P. and Schnitzer, S.A., eds. Blackwell Publishing, Oxford.

Carson, W.P., J. Anderson, E. Leigh, S.A. Schnitzer (2008). Challenges Associated with Testing and Falsifying the Janzen-Connell Hypothesis: A Review and Critique. Pages: 210-241 in: Tropical Forest Community Ecology, Carson, W.P. and Schnitzer, S.A., eds. Blackwell Publishing, Oxford.

Mascaro J. and S.A. Schnitzer (2007). Rhamnus cathartica (common buckthorn) as an ecosystem dominant in Southern Wisconsin forests. Northeastern Naturalist 14: 387-402.

Dickie, I.A., S.A. Schnitzer, P.B. Reich, S.E. Hobbie (2007). Is oak establishment in old fields and savannas context dependent? Journal of Ecology 95: 309-320.

Dickie, I.A., R.A. Montgomery, P.B. Reich, S.A. Schnitzer (2007). Physiological responses of oak seedlings to forest soils. Tree Physiology 27: 133-140.

Londre, R.A. and S.A. Schnitzer (2006). The distribution of lianas and their change in abundance in temperate forests over the past 45 years. Ecology 87: 2973-2978.

Schnitzer, S.A., S.J. DeWalt, J. Chave (2006). Censusing and measuring lianas: a quantitative comparison of the common methods. Biotropica 38: 581-591.

Kurzel, B.P., S.A. Schnitzer, and W.P. Carson (2006). The relationship between liana diameter and location in the canopy in three Panamanian forests. Biotropica, 38: 262-266.

Gerwing, J.J., S.A. Schnitzer, R.J. Burnham, F. Bongers, J. Chave, S.J. DeWalt, C.E.N. Ewango, R. Foster, D. Kenfack, M. Martinez-Ramos, M. Parren, N. Parthasarathy, D.R. Perez-Salicrup, F.E. Putz, D.W. Thomas (2006). A standard protocol for censusing lianas. Biotropica 38: 256-261.

Schnitzer, S.A. (2005). A mechanistic explanation for global patterns of liana abundance and distribution. The American Naturalist, 166: 262-276.

Schnitzer, S.A., M. Kuzee, F. Bongers (2005). Disentangling above-and below-ground competition between lianas and trees in a tropical forest. Journal of Ecology 93: 1115-1125.

Dickie, I.A., Schnitzer, S.A., P.B. Reich, S.E. Hobbie (2005). Spatially disjunct effects of co-occurring competition and facilitation. Ecology Letters 8: 1191-1200.

Andrade, J.L., F.C. Meinzer, G. Goldstein, and S.A. Schnitzer (2005). Water uptake and transport in lianas and co-occurring trees of a seasonally dry tropical forest. Trees: Structure & Function, 19: 282-289.

Schnitzer, S.A., M.P.E. Parren, and F. Bongers (2004). Recruitment of lianas into logging gaps and the effects of pre-harvest liana cutting in a lowland forest in Cameroon. Forest Ecology and Management, 190: 87-98.

Holmgren, M. and S.A. Schnitzer (2004). Science on the rise in developing countries. PloS Biology, 2: 10-13.

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.

Pérez-Salicrup, D.R., S.A. Schnitzer and F.E. Putz (2004). Community ecology and management of lianas. Forest Ecology and Management, 190: 1-2.

Stevens, M.H.H., D. Bunker, S.A. Schnitzer, and W.P. Carson (2004). Establishment limitation reduces species recruitment along an experimental fertility gradient. Journal of Ecology, 92: 339-347.

Schnitzer, S.A. and F. Bongers (2002). The ecology of lianas and their role in forests. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 17 (5): 223-230.

Schnitzer, S.A., P.B. Reich, B. Bergner, and W.P. Carson (2002). Herbivore and pathogen damage on Grassland and woodland plants: A test of the Herbivore Uncertainty Principle. Ecology Letters, 5 (4): 531-539.

Schnitzer, S.A. and W.P. Carson (2001). Treefall gaps and the maintenance of species diversity in a tropical forest. Ecology, 82 (4): 913 - 919.

Schnitzer, S.A., J.W. 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 (4): 655 - 666.

Schnitzer, S.A. and W.P. Carson (2000). Have we missed the forest because of the trees? Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 15 (9): 376 - 377.

Schnitzer, S.A. and R.K. Neely (2000). Criticism of the litterbag technique for the study of aquatic plant decay: Suppression of epiphytic algal biomass. Archiv fur Hydrobiologie, 148 (3): 433 - 440.

DeWalt, S.J., S.A. Schnitzer, and J.S. Denslow (2000). Density and diversity of lianas along a seasonal tropical forest chronosequence in central Panama. Journal of Tropical Ecology, 16 (1): 1 - 19.