School of
Integrative Biology
James Dalling

286 Morrill Hall
Office: 217-244-8914

Mail: 286 Morrill Hall, 505 S. Goodwin Ave, Urbana, IL 61801
Lab Page
Curriculum Vita

James Dalling
Professor - Plant Biology
Director, Integrative Biology Honors


B.A., 1988, Oxford University
Ph.D., 1992, Cambridge University

Teaching Interests

IB372, Honors Ecology and Evolution
IB471, Fungal Ecology and Diversity
IB496, Tropical Ecology in Panama

Tropical forest dynamics, plant-soil and plant-fungal interactions, seed ecology

My research concerns the population and community ecology of tropical forests, with a particular interest in understanding how soil nutrient availability and soil microbial communities shape the composition and diversity of tree communities. Much of my work is carried out with collaborators at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, in Panama, where I am a Research Associate Scientist. My work is carried out principally on Barro Colorado Island in the Panama Canal Watershed, or at the Fortuna Forest Reserve and Volcan Barú in western Panama where I established and maintain a network of forest dynamics plots that encompass a wide range of soil nutrient availabilities and elevation (700-3200m).

Current projects explore (i) seed-infecting fungi as a model system for understanding how plant-pathogen interactions and plant defense traits influence abundance and coexistence; (ii) role of soil nutrient availability in structuring tree communities and plant functional traits; (iii) role of wood nutrients as a plant nutrient store in nutrient-poor soil and as a determinant of wood decomposer community composition and decay rate.


Delcomyn Professorial Scholar
Visiting Fellow, Magdalen College, Oxford
Beaufort Visiting Fellow, St John's College, Cambridge

Representative Publications

Zanne, A., Flores-Moreno, H., Powell, J., Cornwell, W., Dalling, J.W., et al. (2022) Temperature sensitivity of termites determines global wood decay rates. Science 377:1440-1444

Seyfried, G.S., Corrales, A., Kent, A.D., Dalling, J.W., Yang, W.H. (2022) Watershed-scale variation in potential fungal community contributions to ectomycorrhizal biogeochemical syndromes. Ecosystems

Aguirre-Guttierez, J., Berenguer, E., Oliveras, I…Dalling, J.W…, Malhi, Y. (2022) Functional susceptibility of tropical forests to climate change. Nature Ecology and Evolution,

Ferrer, A., Heath, K., Mosquera, S., Suarez, Y., Dalling, J.W. (2022) Assembly of wood-inhabiting archaeal, bacterial and fungal communities along a salinity gradient: common taxa are broadly distributed but locally abundant in preferred habitats. FEMS Microbiology Ecology, 98:fiac040

Seyfried, G.S., Canham, C.D., Dalling, J.W. and Yang, W.H. (2021) The effects of tree-mycorrhizal type on soil organic matter properties from neighborhood to watershed scales. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 161:108385.

Schnitzer, S.A., DeFilippis, D.M., Visser, M., Estrada-Villegas, S., Rivera-Camaña, R., Bernal, B., Peréz, S., Valdéz, A., Valdéz, S., Aguilar, A., Dalling, J.W., Broadbent, E.N., Almeyda Zambrano, A.M., Hubbell, S.P., Garcia-Leon, M. (2021) Long-term increases in liana density and basal area are associated with disturbance. Ecology Letters, 24:2635-2647.

Zalamea, P-C., Sarmiento, C., Arnold, A.E., Davis, A.S., Ferrer, A., Dalling, J.W. (2021). Closely related tree species support distinct communities of seed-associated fungi in a lowland tropical forest. Journal of Ecology,

Heineman, K., Turner, B.L., Dalling, J.W. (2021) Multiple stem frequency is positively associated with soil and tissue nutrient concentrations in Panamanian tropical forests. Journal of Ecology,

Dalling, J.W., Davis, A.S., Arnold, A.E., Sarmiento, C., Zalamea, P-C. (2020) Extending plant defense theory to seeds. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics, 51:123-141.

Ferrer, A., Heath, K.D., Canam, T., Dalling, J.W. (2020) Contribution of fungal and invertebrate communities to wood decay in tropical terrestrial and aquatic habitats. Ecology, 101, e03097

Complete Publications List