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Dr. Ian Ramsey McFadden





Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL
Zürcherstrasse 111
8903 Birmensdorf



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.


Ph.D. 2019 Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
Committee: Nathan Kraft (Advisor), Steven Hubbell, Lawren Sack and Matthew Fitzpatrick

B.S. 2008 Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Santa Cruz
Advisors: Campbell Webb (external) and Nathaniel Dominy


Academic Positions

WSL-Eawag Blue-Green Biodiversity Initiative Postdoc, 2020 - present
Supervisors: Niklaus Zimmermann and Ole Seehausen

WSL Lighthouse in Biodiversity Initiative Postdoc, 2019 - 2020
Supervisors: Catherine Graham, Niklaus Zimmermann and Loïc Pellissier

Dean's Research Excellence Fellow, 2017
University of California, Los Angeles 

National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow, 2012 - 2016
University of California, Los Angeles and University of Maryland, College Park

Publications  [Google Scholar profile]


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

In preparation

Esteban Guevara, Loïc Pellisier, Carolina Bello, Ian McFadden, Cristian Povedaand Catherine Graham. Interactive effects of habitat loss and elevation on experimental resource competition in tropical hummingbird communities.

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, Albouy Camille. Looking beyond latitude: Quantifying longitudinal diversity patterns to infer biodiversity dynamics through time.

Ian McFadden, Renato Valencia and Nathan Kraft. Hydraulic vulnerability and herbivore resistance traits influence community assembly in a hyper-diverse Amazonian forest.


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.
     *Highly Cited Paper (Web of Science), Commentary in GCB 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.
     *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.


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.

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.
     *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 Tropical Conservation Science with a new publishing platform. Tropical Conservation Science, 4: i-iii.

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

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.


Online Datasets and Code

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