Joy B. Zedler

Joy B. Zedler

Professor of Botany and Aldo Leopold Chair in Restoration Ecology
302 Birge Hall
Ph.D. (1968) University of Wisconsin
Restoration ecology; wetland ecology; reestablishment of rare plants; interactions of native and rare species; adaptive management
Zedler's Lab


As Professor of Botany, I supervise MS students in our non-thesis track in Ecological Restoration, mentor student-research projects, and help co-authors publish their work. Through long involvement in field research, I have come to appreciate the need for more long-term studies. I am concluding an 11-year study of tussock sedge phenology near Madison. I continue the long-term tracking of a federally endangered halophyte (Cordylanthus maritimus ssp. maritimus) that my research team reintroduced to San Diego Bay in 1990, but which was nearly re-extirpated in 2014, after 3 years of drought. I have several advisory roles concerning restoration of California coastal marshes, helping agencies and non-profit organizations recover and sustain ecosystem functions and biodiversity.  I am working with Drs. Margaret Palmer (U. Maryland) and Don Falk (U. Arizona) on the 2nd edition of Foundations of Restoration Ecology, which Island Press publish in 2016. A new eBook (Zedler 2015) describes how my students and other collaborators uncovered many secrets (21 chapters can be downloaded free at 

As the Aldo Leopold Professor of Restoration Ecology, I facilitate place-based research at the University of Wisconsin Arboretum, which has a large collection of restored and restorable ecosystems. I address issues of importance to the restoration of wetlands within the Arboretum, within Wisconsin, and in other states and countries. For example, I helped the Association of State Wetland Managers hold monthly webinars and compile a report to EPA on how best to improve wetland restoration. More broadly, I advise local, state, and national agencies on wetland protection and restoration.

Restoring ecosystems to functional equivalency with reference systems requires that the site support essential functions, attract the desired species, and resist invasion by unwanted species, whether exotic or native. Both physical and biological variables affect the ability of a restoration site to achieve these goals. For most ecosystems, we know far too little about what constrains restoration; hence, the opportunities for research are numerous, and the demand for information is great.

Research at UW has improved the design, implementation, and assessment of ecosystem restoration efforts. We first focused on sedge meadows and how hydrological disturbances and nutrient additions shift native vegetation toward reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea) and hybrid cattails (Typha x glauca). After understanding causes and impacts of invasions we worked to find ways to restore native biodiversity while testing ecological theories and hypotheses in field, mesocosm, and greenhouse facilities. Most recently, my interdisciplinary team measured six ecosystem functions in three wetlands that were constructed to be identical, but differed in hydroperiod (see Leaflets 27-28, free downloads at

The practice of ecological restoration is advanced when we can predict outcomes of alternative restoration approaches and when new techniques prove useful in multiple settings. I recommend adaptive restoration approaches to advance the science and practice simultaneously, by designing restoration sites as large-scale field experiments that can test alternative approaches and demonstrate which are most effective and why. I advise state and federal agencies, professional societies, non-governmental organizations, and individual citizens on how best to protect and restore wetlands. I encourage a wetland ethic to compensate for regulations that do not provide adequate protection. Please read more in Leaflet 36.


Thesis research students and Botany Ecological Restoration track:

Chris Hirsch  (MS 2015, expected)

Jim Doherty (Ph.D. 2014) teaches online courses for gifted students at Stanford U.

Nicolas Galleguillos Katz   (MS 2014) now MS student in Soils, UW Madison

Nate Fayram (MS 2013) is with Wisconsin DNR Service Center in Fitchburg

Hadley Boehm (MS ) shifted to fish biology at WDNR

Caroline Oswald (MS 2013) consults on wetland ecology in MN

Christine Sullivan (MS 2013) works in conservation ecology in CA

Isabel Rojas-Viada (MS 2013) PhD student,  Forest & Wildlife Ecology, UW-Madison

Hadley Boehm (MS 2011) shifted to fish ecology at WDNR

Charles Tucker (MS 2011) moved to Missouri to continue research on turtle ecology

Beth Lawrence (PhD 2010) is professor at DePaul University, Chicago

Eric Olson (MS  2010) is now professor at Ashland College, Northland, WI

Sally Gallagher (MS 2009) Madison, WI

Michael Healy (MS 2009) is Principal Ecologist at Adaptive Restoration LLC in Madison, WI

Steven Hall (MS 2008) is a postdoc U. Utah

Cathi Bonin (MS 2007) is a postdol at U. Iowa

Nic Jelinski (MS 2007) is assistant professor at U.Minnesota

Alison Varty (MS 2007) is a professor at College of the Siskiyous in northern CA

Aaron Boers (PhD 2006) is an environmental consultant in Houston, TX

Christin Frieswyk (PhD 2005) was a Researcher at Cleveland Botanical Garden but moved to Michigan in fall 2008

Andrea Herr-Turoff (PhD 2005) Botany Student Coordinator until 2014, now in Pittsburgh, PA

Dan Larkin (PhD 2006) was the Restoration Ecologist at Chicago Botanical Garden, prior to becoming an assistant professor at U. Minnesota, fall 2015.

Hem Nalini Morzaria-Luna (Ph.D. 2004) works with the NOAA Fisheries Research Lab in Seattle and continues work on salt marshes in the Gulf of California for the Intercultural Center for the Study of Deserts and Oceans.

Michelle Peach (M.S. 2005) managed The Nature Conservancy's Tug Hill Reserve in upper New York state prior to working on her PhD

Julia Wilcox (M.S. 2004) moved from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to France in the fall 2008

Anastasia Allen (M.S. 2004) is a freelance writer in Idaho

Erin O'Brien (M.S. 2003) is the Policy Director with the Wisconsin Wetlands Association

Suzanne Kercher (Ph.D. 2003) teaches High School Environmental Science and Chemistry in southern Missouri.

Rachel Veltman (M.S. 2002) is a staff ecologist with Natural Resources Consulting, Inc. in Wisconsin.

Roberto Lindig-Cisneros (Ph.D. 2001) is a professor of Restoration Ecology at UNAM-Moralia (in Michoacan, Mexico)

Debbie Maurer (M.S. 2001) is the Restoration Ecologist for the Lake County Forest Preserve in Illinois.

Katy Wallace (nee Werner, M.S. 2001) is the principal of Human Nature, Madison, WI.

Becky Miller (M.S. 2001) worked with USDA in northern California before shifting to Library Science

Isa Woo (M.S. 2000) restores marshes as a Wetlands and Wildlife Biologist with the US Geological Survey, at the San Francisco Bay Estuary Field Station.

Cristina Bonilla-Warford (M.S. 2000) is the Coordinator of Teacher Resources at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Chicago.