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David Wardle

David Wardle
Professor of Forest Ecology


David Wardle is a Professor of Ecology at Umeå University, and an affiliate professor at SLU in Umeå.  His research explores the links between aboveground and belowground communities and how these in turn drive the functioning of terrestrial ecosystems, as well as how these linkages are impacted by global change factors. A large proportion of this work is field based and in natural ecosystems, including in forested ecosystems around the world as well as subarctic and subalpine tundra. Much of this work is carried out in the field in northern Sweden, though with significant past and present work also in Southeast Asia, the Americas, Australasia/Oceania and elsewhere in Europe. Current projects focus on:

-  The community and ecosystem effects of invasive and overabundant plants and animals.

-  The ecological consequences of wildfire in forests

-  Ecosystem changes across natural gradients of elevation (and temperature), ecosystem development and degradation, and retrogression

-  The ecology, biodiversity and ecosystem functioning of island ecosystems

-  Ecological consequences of biodiversity loss in real world contexts



PhD in Ecology, University of Calgary, Canada, 1989
BSc (Hons) in Botany, University of Canterbury, New Zealand, 1985 

Representative Awards 

2006-present: Identified by ISI/Clarivate as a ‘Highly Cited’ scientist (Ecology/Environment) in every ‘highly cited’ list from 2006 onwards.

2022. Amongst the world's 20 most cited scientists in ecology and evolution according to ''.

2021. Nanyang Research Award. 

2021. Honorary Professorship with East China Normal University, Shanghai, China.

2020. R. H. Whittaker ‘Distinguished Ecologist’ award from the Ecological Society of America. 

2020. Elected as a Member of Academia Europaea.

2018. Journal of Ecology Eminent Ecologist award. 

2016. Rosén´s Linneus Prize in Botany from the Royal Physiographic Society, Lund, Sweden.

2016. ‘Wallenberg Scholars’ continuation award.

2014. Distinguished Alumnus, School of Biological Sciences, University of Canterbury.

2010. Selected as a ‘Wallenberg Scholar’.

2006. Swedish Univ of Agric Sciences (SLU) ‘Excellence Award’ 

2003 Elected Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand 

2001 New Zealand Ecological Society (Te Tohu Taiao) award for Ecological Excellence.

1999 New Zealand Association of Scientists (Hill Tinsley) Research Medal.


Editorial work

Series Editor, Book Series ‘Ecological Studies’, Springer (2018-present)

Member, Board of Reviewing Editors, Science (2009-2016).

Editorial Board, New Zealand Journal of Ecology (1997-present; Chief Editor 1998-2002)

Past editorial board member of Ecology Letters, Journal of Ecology, Ecology, Ecological Monographs, Soil Biology and Biochemistry, Biology and Fertility of Soils, Pedobiologia.


Research supervision

A key part of David Wardle’s work has been to mentor the next generation of excellent ecologists. As  such he has supervised a very diverse assortment of around 60 postdoctoral researchers and PhD  students, most of which have actively published in major journals under his supervision (in e.g., Nature, Science, Ecology Letters, Nature Ecology and Evolution, New Phytologist, Trends in Ecology and Evolution, etc), and nearly all of which hold university faculty positions, or environmental research, policy and management positions, in 17 separate countries and 5 continents.


A full publication list can be found at 


Wardle, D. A. (2002) Communities and Ecosystems: Linking the Aboveground and Belowground Components. Princeton University Press (Monographs in Population Biology series), Princeton, U.S.A. 392pp. 

Bardgett, R. D. and Wardle, D. A. (2010) Aboveground-Belowground Linkages: Biotic Interactions, Ecosystem Processes and Global Change. Oxford University Press (Series in Ecology and Evolution), Oxford, U.K. 302pp. 

Selected recent journal articles:

Rahman, N. E., Smith, S. W., Lam, W. N., Chong, K. Y., ..........., Lee, J. S. H. and Wardle, D. A. (2023) Leaf decomposition and flammability are largely decoupled across species in a tropical swamp forest despite sharing some predictive leaf functional traits. New Phytologist (in press).  

Kempel, A., Allan, E., Gossner, M. M., Jochum, M., Grace, J. B. and Wardle, D. A. (2023) From bottom-up to top-down control of invertebrate herbivores in a retrogressive chronosequence. Ecology Letters (in press).

Fanin, N., Clemmensen, K. E., Lindahl, B. D., Farrell, M., Nilsson, M.-C., Gundale, M. J., Kardol. P. and Wardle, D. A. (2022) Ericoid shrubs shape fungal communities and suppress organic matter decomposition in boreal forests. New Phytologist 236: 684-697.

Chong, K. Y., Corlett, R. T., Nuñez, M., ……Ngo, K., M., Wardle, D. A. (2021) Are terrestrial biological invasions different in the tropics? Annual Reviews of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 52: 291-314. 

Mishra, S., Page, S. E., Cobb, A. R.,……..Idris, A., Wardle, D. A. (2021) Degradation of Southeast Asian tropical peatlands and integrated strategies for their better management and restoration. Journal of Applied Ecology 58: 1370-1387.

Wardle, D. A., Gundale, M. J., Kardol, P., Nilsson M.-C. and Fanin, N. (2020) Impact of plant functional group and species removals on soil and plant nitrogen and phosphorus across a retrogressive chronosequence. Journal of Ecology 108: 561-573.

Frost, C. M., Allen, W. J., Courchamp, F.,……Saul, W. C. and Wardle, D. A. (2019) Using network theory to understand and predict biological invasions. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 33: 831-843. 

van den Hoogen, J., Geisen, S., Routh, D., Ferris, H., Traunspurger, W., Wardle, D. A.,….. (2019) Soil nematode abundance, distribution, and trophic group composition at a global scale. Nature 572: 194-198.

Fanin, N., Kardol, P., Farell, M……,Gungale, M. J., Wardle, D. A. (2019) Effects of plant functional group removal on structure and function of soil communities across contrasting ecosystems. Ecology Letters 22: 1095-1103.

Kardol, P., Fanin, N. and Wardle, D. A. (2018) Long term impacts of species loss on community properties across contrasting ecosystems. Nature 557: 710-713.

Fanin, N., Gundale, M. J., ….. , Kardol, P. and Wardle, D. A. (2018) Consistent effects of biodiversity loss on multifunctionality across contrasting ecosystems. Nature Ecology and Evolution 2: 269-278. 

Mayor, J. R., Sanders, N. J., Classen, A. T., Bardgett, R.,…….. Kudo, G.,  Oberski, D. and Wardle, D. A. (2017) Elevation alters ecosystem properties across temperate treelines globally. Nature 542: 91-97. 

Wardle, D. A. and Lindahl, B. (2014) Disentangling global soil fungal diversity. Science 346: 1052-1053.  

Wardle, D. A., Bardgett, R. D., Callaway, R. M. and Van der Putten, W. H. (2011) Terrestrial ecosystem responses to species gains and losses. Science 332: 1273-1277.

Wardle, D. A., Bardgett, R. D., Klironomos, J. N., Setälä, H., Van der Putten, W. H. and Wall, D. H. (2004) Ecological linkages between aboveground and belowground biota. Science 304: 1629-1633.



Non employee at the Department of Forest Ecology and Management; Department of Forest Ecology and Management, joint staff
Telephone: +46907868471, +46706589281
Postal address:
Skogens ekologi och skötsel
901 83 Umeå
Visiting address: Skogsmarksgränd 17, Umeå