Sara C Hotchkiss

Position title: Professor of Botany


Website: Hotchkiss Lab website

Phone: 608-265-6751

353 Birge Hall

Ph.D. (1998) University of Minnesota
Research Interests
Studies of vegetation history, climate history, ecosystem response to climate change, disturbance and landscape dynamics, and paleoecology.
Sara Hotchkiss

Dr. Hotchkiss is a faculty affiliate of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and Limnology and Marine Sciences Program

Research Overview

Present patterns in natural systems often cannot be understood without knowledge of past events. Many of the forces affecting ecosystems are too slow-acting or too rare to be observed on human time scales, yet they may have important implications for ecological processes, response to global change, and management or restoration of ecosystems. I use paleoecological methods to provide useful context for our observations of modern ecosystems and to study how rare events and slow changes shape ecological history.

Our current projects include studies of climate history, vegetation history, disturbance, species invasion, and ecosystem development.

Fire, climate, and landscape-scale vegetation patterns: with Randy Calcote (U of Minnesota), Beth Lynch (Luther College), David Mladenoff, and Volker Radeloff (UW-Madison). We are investigating the response of landscape-scale vegetation patterns to changes in disturbance frequency and climate, on the Northwestern Wisconsin Sand Plain.

Sensitivity of Hawaiian High-elevation and Aquatic Ecosystems to Global Change: with Tom Giambelluca (UH-Manoa), Lloyd Loope (USGS-BRD Haleakala NP), David Foote, Gregor Schuurman (USGS-BRD Hawaii Volcanoes NP), and Shelley Crausbay (PIERC Hawaii Cooperative Studies Unit). We are monitoring the response of treeline vegetation on Maui to changes in climate.

Ecosystem effects of Sphagnum: with Peter Vitousek (Stanford University). We are studying the ecosystem effects of Sphagnum palustre in Hawaiian wet forests over the past few decades.

Biocomplexity: riparian land, people, and lakes: with a number of UW faculty members in limnology, zoology, botany, sociology, history, and economics. We are studying the stability of lake ecosystems in northern Wisconsin, as they interact with changes in riparian vegetation driven by human land use decisions.

Hawaiian ecosystems, soils, and society: with Patrick Kirch (U.C. Berkeley), Peter Vitousek and Shripad Tuljapurkar (Stanford University), Oliver Chadwick (U.C. Santa Barbara), Thegn Ladefoged (Aukland), Michael Graves and Kaeo Duarte (U.H. Manoa), we are investigating the development and intensification of agriculture over 1000 years in Hawaii, focusing on interactions between human societies and the ecosystems they lived in.  The current phase of our project seeks to compare dryland and irrigated agricultural systems and societies.


Recent Publications

Lynch, E.A., R. Calcote, and S.C. Hotchkiss.  Late Holocene vegetation and fire history on a Wisconsin sand plain.  The Holocene, in press.

Chadwick, O.A., E.F. Kelly, S.C. Hotchkiss, and P.M. Vitousek.  Pre-contact vegetation and soil nutrient status in the shadow of Kohala Volcano, Hawai’i. Geomorphology, in press.

Robert K. Booth, John E. Kutzbach, Sara C. Hotchkiss, and Reid A. Bryson.  2004.  A reanalysis of the relationship between strong westerlies and drought in the Great Plains and Midwest regions of North America.  Climatic Change, in press.

Vitousek, P.M., T.N. Ladefoged, P.V. Kirch, A.S. Hartshorn, M.W. Graves, S.C. Hotchkiss, S. Tuljapurkar, and O.A. Chadwick.  2004.  Soils, agriculture, and society in precontact Hawai’i.   Science 304:1665-1669.

Hotchkiss, S.C.  2004.  Quaternary history of the U.S. tropics.  In A.Gillespie, S. Porter, and B. Atwater, eds. The Quaternary Period in the United States, pp. 441-457.  Elsevier, New York.

Hotchkiss, S., P.M. Vitousek, O.A. Chadwick, and J. Price. 2000.  Site history and the interpretation of soil and ecosystem development.  Ecosystems 3:522-533.

Hotchkiss, S., and J.O. Juvik.  1999.  A Late-Quaternary pollen record from Ka’au Crater, O’ahu, Hawai’i. Quaternary Research 52: 115-128.