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Dr. Ian Ramsey McFadden





Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL
Zürcherstrasse 111
8903 Birmensdorf


Birmensdorf Bi HL E 23


Research interests

The goal of my research is to answer two fundamental and timely questions: how do ecological and evolutionary processes shape the distribution, traits and relatedness of species, and how is the structure of biodiversity changing due to human impacts? To accomplish this, I combine fieldwork, lab work and big data to create statistical and mechanistic models of biodiversity dynamics. I study both animals and plants, and perform detailed local studies in tropical forests, as well as eco-evolutionary analyses of biotas at continental and global scales.


PhD, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Los Angeles, 2019

BS, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Santa Cruz, 2008

HS, Visual and Fine Arts, Ruth Asawa School of the Arts, San Francisco, 2004


Research positions

Postdoctoral Researcher, Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL, 2019 - present 

US National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellow, 2012 - 2016

Research Assistant, ESPM Department, University of California, Berkeley, 2010 - 2011

Independent Researcher, Borneo, funded by Harvard Deland Award, 2008 - 2009

Publications  [Google Scholarprofile]

In revision, in review and submitted

Ian McFadden, Marco Coelho, Rafael Wüest, Fernanda Cassemiro, Niklaus Zimmermann, Loïc Pellissier, Thiago Rangel and Catherine Graham. Global hotspots of recent and ancestral turnover in birds. In revision. [Preprint ]

Luiz de Queiroz, Carmela Doenz, Florian Altermatt, Roman Alther, Špela Borko, Jakob Brodersen, Martin Gossner, Catherine Graham, Blake Matthews, Ian McFadden, Loïc Pellissier, Thomas Schmitt, Oliver Selz, Soraya Villalba, Lukas Rüber, Niklaus Zimmermann, Ole Seehausen. The interaction of climate history and evolution impacts alpine biodiversity assembly differently in freshwater and on land. In review.

Esteban Guevara, Carolina Bello, Cristian Poveda, Ian McFadden, Matthias Schleuning, Loïc Pellisier and Catherine Graham. Hummingbird community structure and nectar resources modulate the response of interspecific competition to forest conversion. Submitted. 

In preparation

Imran Khaliq, Christian Rixen, Florian Zellweger, Blake Matthews, Catherine Graham, Martin Gossner, Ian McFadden, Laura Antao, Jakob Broderson, Shyamolina Ghosh, Francesco Pomati, Ole Seehausen, Tobias Roth, Thomas Sattler, Sarah Supp, Niklaus Zimmermann, Anita Narwani. Warming-related community turnover in freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems.

Loïc Pellissier, Lydian Boschman, Catherine Graham, Oskar Hagen, Roland Jansson, Lisha Lyu, Ian McFadden, Thiago Rangel, Christopher Scotese, Zhiheng Wang, Niklaus Zimmermann, Charles Novaes de Santana and Albouy Camille. Looking beyond latitude: Quantifying longitudinal diversity patterns to infer biodiversity dynamics through time.


Ian McFadden, Susanne Fritz, Niklaus Zimmermann, Loïc Pellissier, Daniel Kissling, Joseph Tobias, Matthias Schleuning and Catherine Graham. Global plant-frugivore trait matching is shaped by climate and biogeographic history. Ecology Letters, in press. 


Ian McFadden, Marco Coelho, Rafael Wüest, Fernanda Cassemiro, Niklaus Zimmermann, Loïc Pellissier, Thiago Rangel and Catherine Graham. Global hotspots of recent and ancestral turnover in birds. Research Square (preprint). [Link ]

Jens Kattge, Gerhard Bönisch, Sandra Díaz, Sandra Lavorel, Ian Prentice... Ian McFadden (729 authors total)... and Christian Wirth. TRY plant trait database - enhanced coverage and open access. Global Change Biology, 26: 119-188. [ Link ]
*Invited contribution to '25 years of Global Change Biology'; Commentary by Fraser 2020


Ian McFadden, Brody Sandel, Constantinos Tsirogiannis, Naia Morueta-Holme, Jens-Christian Svenning, Brian Enquist and Nathan Kraft. Temperature shapes opposing latitudinal gradients of plant taxonomic and phylogenetic β diversity. Ecology Letters, 22: 1126–1135. [ Link ]
 *Selected as cover article

Claire Fortunel, Ian McFadden, Renato Valencia and Nathan Kraft. Neither species geographic range size, climatic envelope nor intraspecific leaf trait variability capture habitat specialization in a hyperdiverse Amazonian forest. Biotropica, 51: 304-310. [ Link ]


Ian McFadden, Megan Bartlett, Thorsten Wiegand, Benjamin Turner, Lawren Sack, Renato Valencia and Nathan Kraft. Disentangling the functional trait correlates of spatial aggregation in tropical forest trees. Ecology, 100: E02591. [ Link ]

Jeannine Cavender-Bares, Mary Arroyo (Coordinating Lead Authors), Robin Abell, David Ackerly (and 20+ Lead Authors), Marcelo Aizen, Diva Amon... Ian McFadden (and 50+ Contributing Authors). 2018. Chapter 3: Status, trends and future dynamics of biodiversity and ecosystems underpinning nature’s contributions to people. In The IPBES Regional Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services for the Americas. Rice, J., Seixas, C. S., Zaccagnini, M. E., Bedoya-Gaitán, M., and Valderrama, N. (eds.). Secretariat of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, Bonn, Germany, pp. 171-293. [ Link ]
*Commentary and news coverage by Nature, BBC, the Guardian, National Geographic

Before 2018

Alejandro Estrada, Ian McFadden and Rhett Butler. 2011. Beginning a fourth year of TCS with a new publishing platform. Tropical Conservation Science, 4: i-iii. [ Link ]
*Introduced new journal logo designed by I. McFadden

Ian McFadden. 2011. Back from a century of extinction, conservation proposed for elusive Asian flying squirrel.[ Link ]

Lauren Quinn, Bonnie Davis, John-Mary Vianney, Desiree Williams, Ian McFadden, Orgiltuya Batjargal, Monika Alas, Mietek Kolipinski and Sibdas Ghosh. 2006. Invasive plant species in horse manure. US National Park Service. [ Link ]


Open datasets and code

Global plant-frugivore trait matching, GitHub repository archived on Zenodo
Code and data to reproduce: McFadden et al. Ecology Letters (in press)

Global avian frugivore gape size and bill size dataset, Dryad 
Data from: McFadden et al. Ecology Letters (in press)
DOI: (under embargo until publication)

Data from: McFadden et al. 2019 Ecology Letters, Dryad dataset 
New World plant phylogeny and occurence matrix 

Leaf Drought Tolerance and Mechanical Toughness Dataset, TRY online plant trait database
Trait data for 454 Amazonian tree species

Leaf Intraspecific Trait Variation Dataset, TRY online plant trait database (co-PI with N. Kraft)
Functional trait data for 43 Amazonian trees with high intraspecific sampling of individuals

Trait Correlates of Spatial Aggregation, code repository from McFadden et al. 2018 Ecology
Functions to implement decision tree for spatial point process models of tree stem patterns

UCLA Trait Transects, GitHub data, code and figure repository
From UCLA EEB122 ‘discussion-lab’ curricula developed by I. McFadden