James Cahill, PhD
Area of Study / Keywords
Plant ecology plant behaviour community ecology conservation biology
Due to hiring freezes throughout the early 1990's, I am now one of the senior professors in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Alberta. This is not an event anyone would have planned for, but it is what we now have. On the upside, I genuinely try to work for the public good, I care about undergraduate and graduate training, and I am still excited about discovery. I feel very grateful to be supported by taxpayer and tuition dollars to learn things no one in the history of the world has ever known before. I work hard to translate these discoveries to whoever may care to hear about them.
Current Research Interests
Research in the lab addresses a diversity of fundamental questions in plant ecology. We take a broad approach to research, with interest in plant behavioural ecology, biodiversity and community assembly, herbivory, plant social interactions (including competition), mycorrhizae, species invastion, climate change. Honestly, if its an interesting question I sure would like to know the answer.
This lab predominately uses an experimental approach to understanding. We enjoy the 'kick-the-tires' approach, utilizing it in both natural communities (e.g. native grasslands), and mesocosms (e.g. growth rooms and greenhouses). As a group, we test questions spanning the evolutionary and ecological spectrum, but in pursuit of basic understanding and to meet a given public need.
I am generally open to new students who are curious, and even more new curious students who can secure external funding. Please visit my lab home page to find out about any opportunities for graduate study. I am always interested in hearing from prospective graduate students at both the M.Sc. and PhD. level, as well as potential postdoctoral fellows and undergraduates. Admissions, and most funding sources, are available to students regardless of nationality.
Laboratory of Experimental Plant Ecology
My teaching focuses on enabling students to take personal responsibility for their learning. I provide a diversity to tools and information for students in the classroom and the lab, and work with them to use these tools to achieve their desired goals. Students who prefer the history of science be provided to them (e.g. textbook facts) will be woefully disappointed in my courses.
Plants and animals are engaged in a diversity of ecological interactions, with implications for evolutionary trajectories, species coexistence, and the delivery of ecosystem services. This course requires active engagement, which may include discussion and debate. Lecture content will include a diversity of advanced topics in ecology and evolutionary biology with a focus on species interactions. Prerequisite: BIOL 331 or 332 or BOT 332 or ZOOL 371.
Study of the local factors that limit plant growth, reproduction, and diversity. Particular emphasis on the mechanisms by which plants interact with their local environment and the effects of these interactions on diversity and community functioning. Specific topics include plant foraging, germination ecology, mechanisms of competition and facilitation, patterns of diversity, and community stability. Prerequisites: BIOL 208 and STAT 151 or SCI 151. BOT 205 recommended. Credit cannot be obtained for both BOT 332 and 532. This course requires payment of additional miscellaneous fees. Refer to the Tuition and Fees page in the University Regulations section of the Calendar.