Amy Zanne

Amy Zanne

Associate Professor of Biology
SEH 6690
Phone: 202-994-8751
Plant physiology, ecology, and evolution.

Current Research

We explore why and how plant community composition changes across ecological settings and what the ecosystem-level consequences are of these changes. Our focus is typically not at the species but at the trait composition level, as selection will be acting within and among species via their expressed functional traits. We ask whether particular plant traits or suites of traits lead to differences in plant distribution and performance to understand the linkage between structure and function. Additionally, we examine these linkages within an evolutionary framework, investigating where in phylogenies the greatest divergences in trait values occur, as well as whether traits change in a coordinated fashion across phylogenies.

Currently the lab has three large themes:

  1. Understanding interspecific differences in wood decomposition rates
  2. Plant functional traits relationships and environmental gradients (field data)
  3. Global functional trait databases (compilations)

To learn more about these projects and other lab activities, visit the lab website.

Lab Members

Amy Milo (PhD student)


Ph.D., University of Florida, Gainesville, FL. 2003.
M.S., University of Florida, Gainesville, FL. 1998.
B.A., Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH. 1992.


Complete list of lab publications.

Recent publications:

Pietsch, K.A., Ogle, K, Cornelissen, J.H.C., Cornwell, W.K., Boenisch, G., Craine, J.M., Jackson, B.G., Kattge, J., Peltzer, D.A., Penuelas, J., Reich, P.B., Wardle, D.A., Weedon, J.T., Wright, I.J., Zanne, A.E., Wirth­, C. 2014. Decoupled functional trait spectra explain weak coupling of leaf and wood decomposability at the global level. Global Ecology and Biogeography. 23: 1046-1057

Fitzjohn, R.G., Pennell, M.W., Zanne, A.E., Stevens, P.F., Tank, D.C., Cornwell, W.K. 2014. How much of the world is woody? Journal of Ecology. 102: 1266-1272

Osazuwa-Peters, O.L., Wright, S.J., Zanne, A.E. 2014. Radial variation in wood density of tropical tree species differing in growth-mortality strategies. American Journal of Botany. 101: 803-811

Oberle, B.J., Dunham, K.M., Milo, A.M., Walton, M., Young, D.F., Zanne, A.E. 2014. Progressive, idiosyncratic changes in wood hardness during decay: implications for dead wood inventory and cycling. Forest Ecology and Management 323:1-9.

Cornwell, W.K., Westoby, M., Falster, D.S., Fitzjohn, R.G., O’Meara, B., McGlinn, D.J., Eastman, J., Moles, A.T., Reich, P.B., Tank, D., Wright, I.J., Aarssen, L.W., Beaulieu, J.M., Kooyman, R., Leishman, M., Niinemets, U., Oleksyn, J., Ordonez, A., Pennell, M., Royer, D.L., Smith, S.A., Stevens, P.F., Warman, L., Wilf, P., Miller, E.T., Zanne, A.E. 2014. Functional distinctiveness of major plant lineages. Journal of Ecology. 102: 345-356

Zanne, A.E., Tank, D.C., Cornwell, W.K., Eastman, J.M., Smith, S.A., FitzJohn, R.G., McGlinn, D.J., Moles, A.T., O'Meara, B.C., Royer, D.L., Wright, I.J., Aarssen, L., Bertin, R.I., Govaerts, R., Hemmings, F., Leishman, M.R., Oleksyn, J., Reich, P.B., Sargent, R., Soltis, D.E., Soltis, P.S., Stevens, P.F., Swenson, N.G., Warman, L., Westoby, M., Beaulieu, J.M. Three keys to the radiation of angiosperms into freezing environments. (2013) Nature. 506: 89–92 

Richards, A.E., Wright, I.J., Lenz, T.I., Zanne, A.E. 2014. Sapwood capacitance is greater in woody plant species growing in high compared to low rainfall environments. Functional Ecology. 28: 734-744

Miller, E.T., Zanne, A.E., Ricklefs, R.E. 2013. Niche conservatism constrains Australian honeyeater assemblage composition in stressful environments. Ecology Letters. 16: 1186-1194.

Kooyman, R.M., Zanne, A.E., Gallagher, R.V., Cornwell, W., Parkes, E.A., Catterall, C.F., Laffan, S.W. and Lusk, C.H. 2013. Effects of growth form and functional traits on response of woody plants to clearing and fragmentation of subtropical rainforest. Conservation Biology. 0: 1-10.

Lanfear, R., Ho, S.Y.W., Davies, T.J., Moles, A.T., Aarssen, L., Swenson, N.G., Warman, L.,  Zanne,  A.E., Allen, A.P. 2013. Taller plants have lower rates of molecular evolution. Nature communications 4: 1879.

Torrez, V., Jorgensen, P.M., & Zanne, A.E. Specific leaf area: a predictive model using dried samples. 2013. Australian Journal of Botany. 61: 350-357.

Choat, B., Jansen, S., Brodribb, T.J., Cochard, H., Delzon, S., Bhaskar, R., Bucci, S.,Feild, T.S., Gleason, S.M., Jacobsen, A.L., Lens, F., Maherali, H., Martinez-Vilalta, J. Mayr, S., Mencuccini, M.,  Mitchell, P.J., Nardini, A., Pittermann, J., Pratt, R.B., Sperry, J.S., Westoby, M., Wright, I.J., Zanne, A.E. 2012.  Global convergence in the vulnerability of forests to drought. Nature 491: 752-755.