The lab has moved to CU Boulder! I am an Assistant Professor of large-scale Ecology and Conservation in the EBIO department.

Sustaining both biodiversity and the benefits nature provides to people (i.e., ecosystem services) is a major challenge for scientists and managers. Achieving both goals is complicated by accelerating global environmental change. In response, my lab’s aims to (1) quantify the impacts of global changes, like disturbances, climate variability, and biodiversity change, on ecosystems, their functions, and their contributions to society; (2) understand how ecosystems provide benefits to people, how global change will alter these relationships, and how to best adapt conservation in response.

I combine global change ecology, community ecology, ecosystem ecology, and conservation science and uses quantitative tools from multiple disciplines, including both theoretical and empirical modeling approaches . My interests span multiple spatial scales and  ecosystem types (e.g., forests, marine and coastal ecosystems, grasslands), I analyze large-datasets from different scales (local, regional, and global), and I leverage quantitative tools from several disciplines (e.g., ecological theory, network theory, causal inference approaches from econometrics, decision science, and functional trait ecology). For example,  a major research interest is causal inference in observational ecological and social-ecological data. To learn more about my lab’s research, please visit the research page.

To tackle complex conservation and sustainability challenges, my lab leads and contributes regularly to collaborative and interdisciplinary teams that focus on synthesis science (e.g., working with other ecologists, biologists, sociologists, economists, geographers, applied mathematicians, computer scientists, and conservation practitioners). This work aims to inform conservation  strategies that will be robust to climate change and uncertainty.

My Ph.D. research in Ecology, at UC Santa Barbara, focused on the impacts of temperature variability and biodiversity on global fisheries yields and the extent to which managing for ecosystem services provides an economic incentive for conservation. I completed a concurrent MA in Economics at UCSB, advised by Drs. Christopher Costello and Dick Startz. As a post-doctoral associate at the University of Minnesota, I examined how climate change and extreme disturbances affects boreal forests and the ecosystem services they provide (co-advised by Peter Reich and Steve Polasky). I was previously an Assistant Professor of Conservation Science in the Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology at the University of Minnesota, and an Associate Fellow at the Institute on the Environment.


Please email me if you’d like a pdf copy of a publication, or see my Google Scholar profile.

Dee, L. E., Okamoto, D., Gardmark, A., Montoya, J., Miller, S.J. Temperature variability alters the stability and thresholds for collapse of interacting species, In Press, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.

Dee, L.E., Cowles, J., Isbell, F., Pau, S., Gaines, S., Reich P. (2019) When do ecosystem services depend on rare species? Trends in Ecology & Evolution. [pdf here] See a web story about the paper by NCEAS: here

Xiao, H., McDonald-Madden, E., Sabbadin, R., Peyrard, N., Dee, L.E., Chades, I. (2019) The value of understanding feedbacks between ecosystem function and species for managing ecosystems. Nature Communications 10(1): 10-1. 

Bodin, Ö., Alexander, S., Baggio, J., Barnes, M., Berardo, R., Cumming, G., Dee, L.E. et al. In Press. Improving network approaches to the study of complex social-ecological interdependencies. Nature Sustainability. 

Kimmel, K., Dee, L.E., Tilman, D., Aubin, I., Boenisch , Catford, J., Kattge, J., Weiher, E., Isbell, F. (2019) Chronic fertilization and irrigation gradually and increasingly restructure grassland communities. Ecosphere 10(3) e02625.  [here]

Dee, L.E., Karr, K.A., Landesberg, C.J. & Thornhill, D.J. (2019) Assessing Vulnerability of Fish in the U.S. Marine Aquarium Trade. Front. Mar. Sci., 5, 1–9. doi: 10.3389/fmars.2018.00527

Miller, S., Rassweiler, A., Dee, L.E., Kleisner, K., Mangin, T., Oliveros-Ramos, R., Tam, J., Chavez, F., Ñiquen, M., Lester, S., M. Burden, Gaines, S., Costello, C. In Press. Optimal harvest responses to environmental forecasts depend on resource knowledge and how it can be used. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. [pre-print here]

Ramirez-Reyes, C., Brauman, K., Chaplin-Kramer, R., Galford, G., et al (including Dee). In Press. Reimagining the Potential of Earth Observations for Ecosystem Services Assessment. Science of the Total Environment.

Xiao, H., Dee, L.E., Chades, I., Sabbadin, R., Peyrard, N., Stringer, M., McDonald-Madden, E. (2018) Win‐wins for biodiversity and ecosystem service conservation depend on the trophic levels of the species providing services.  Journal of Applied Ecology 55: 2160-2170.

Isbell, F., Cowles, J., Dee, L.E., Loreau, M., Reich, P., Gonzalez, A., Hector, A., Schmid, B. (2018) Quantifying effects of biodiversity on ecosystem functioning across times and places. Ecology Letters 21: 763–778.

Dee, L.E., De Lara, M., Costello, C. & Gaines, S. D. (2017) To what extent can ecosystem services motivate biodiversity protection? Ecology Letters 20: 935-946.  [pdf]  *Received the 2018 Innovations in Sustainability Sciences Award from the Ecological Society of America: more here

Dee, L.E., Thompson, R., Massol, F., Guerrero, A. Bohan, D.A. (2017) Do socio-ecological syndromes predict outcomes for ecosystem services? – a reply to Bodin et al. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 32(8): 549-552. [pdf]

Dee, L.E., Allesina, S., Bonn, A., Eklöf, A., Gaines, S., Hines, J., Jacob, U., McDonald-Madden, E., Possingham, H., Schröter, M., and Thompson, R. (2017) Operationalizing network theory for ecosystem service assessmentsTrends in Ecology & Evolution 32(2): 118-130. [pdf]

Runting, R., Bryan, B., Dee, L.E., Maseyk, F., Mandle, L., Hamel, P., Wilson, K., Yetka, K., Possingham, H., Rhodes, J. (2017) Incorporating climate change into ecosystem service assessments and decisions: A review. Global Change Biology. 23, 28–41 [pdf]

O’Connor, M., Gonzalez, A., Byrnes, J., Cardinale, B., Duffy, J.E., Gamfeldt, L., Griffin, J., Hooper, D., Hungate, B., Paquette, A., Thompson, P., Dee, L., Dolan, K. (2017) A general biodiversity-function relationship is mediated by trophic level. Oikos 126, 18-31. [pdf]

Dee, L.E, Miller, S.J., Peavey, L.E., Gentry, R., Bradley, D.E., Startz, D., Gaines, S.D., & Lester, S.E. (2016) Functional diversity of catch mitigates negative effects of temperature variability on fisheries yields. Proceedings of the Royal Society B  283, 20161435.  [pdf]  Press Release 

Pau, S. & Dee, L.E. (2016) Remote sensing of species dominance and the value for quantifying ecosystem services. Remote sensing in Ecology & Conservation 2(3), 141-151. [pdf]

Boersma, K.S., Dee, L.E., Miller, S.J., Bogan, M.T., Lytle, D.A., & Gitelman, A.I. (2016) Linking multidimensional functional diversity to quantitative methods: A graphical hypothesis-evaluation framework. Ecology 97(3), 583–593. [pdf]

Dee, L.E. (2015) Managing ecosystem services in the face of uncertainty: what is the role of biodiversity? PhD Dissertation, Bren School of Environmental Science & Management, University of California, Santa Barbara. 

Papastamatiou, Y., Watanabe, Y., Bradley, D., Dee, L.E., Weng, K., Lowe, C.& Caselle, J. (2015) Active while cooling: daily routines of an ectothermic marine predator. PLoS ONE 10(6): e0127807. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0127807 [pdf]

DeeL.E., Horrii, S.S, D.J. Thornhill. (2014) Conservation and management of the trade in ornamental coral-reef wildlife: successes, shortcomings, and future directions. Biological Conservation 169, 225–237. [pdf]   See the blog summarizing this work & “Press

Balvanera, P., Siddique, I., Dee, L.E., Paquette, A., Isbell, F., Gonzalez, A., Byrnes, J., O’Connor, M.I., Hungate, B., Griffin, J.N. (2014) Linking biodiversity and ecosystem services: current uncertainties and the necessary next step. BioScience 64 (1):49-57. [pdf]

Fujita, R., Thornhill, D. J., Karr, K., Cooper, C. H. & Dee, L. E. (2014), Assessing and managing data-limited ornamental fisheries in coral reefs. Fish and Fisheries, 15: 661–675. [pdf]   Press and overview.

J.E.K. Byrnes, L. Gamfeldt, F. Isbell, J.S. Lefcheck, J.N. Griffin, A. Hector, B.J. Cardinale, D.U. Hooper, L.E. Dee, & J.E. Duffy. (2014) Investigating the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem multifunctionality: Challenges and solutions. Methods in Ecology & Evolution 5, 111–124. [pdf]

Dee, L.E. & Gerber, L. (2012) Applications of Decision Theory to Conservation Planning and Management. Nature Education Knowledge 3(3):11. [read here, open access]

Dee, L.E., Witman, J.D., & M. Brandt. (2012) Refugia and top-down control of the pencil urchin Eucidaris galapagensis in the Galápagos Marine Reserve, Journal of Experimental Marine Biology & Ecology, 416-417:135–143. doi:10.1016/j.jembe.2012.02.016  [pdf]

Book chapters

Balvanera, P., Quijas, S., Berta Martín-López, S., Barrios, E., Dee, L., Isbell, F., Durance, I., White, P., Blanchard, R., and de Groot, R. (2016):  ‘The links between biodiversity and ecosystem services’ in Potschin, M., Haines-Young, R., Fish, R. and Turner, R.K. (eds) Routledge Handbook of Ecosystem Services. Routledge, London and New York.


Cavender-Bares, J., Arroyo, M., Abell, R, Acklerly, D., Arim, M., Belnap, J., Moya, F., Dee, L., Estrada-Carmona, N., Gobin, J., Isbell, F., Köhler, G., Koops, M., Kraft, N., Macfarlane, N., Mora, A., Piñeiro, G., Martínez-Garza, C., Metzger, J., Oatham, M., Paglia, A., Peri, P., Randall, R., Weis, J., Jaffe, R. Chapter 3: Chapter 3: Status and trends of biodiversity  and ecosystem functions underpinning nature’s benefit to people In IPBES (2018): The IPBES regional assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services for the Americas. Rice, J., Seixas, C. S., Zaccagnini, M. E., Bedoya-Gaitán, M., and Valderrama, N. (eds.). Secretariat of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, Bonn, Germany, pp. 186-323.

Witman, J.D, Brandt, M., and Dee, L.E. (2009) Testing trophic cascades in the Galápagos Marine Reserve: an experimental approach. In: M. Wolff and M.Gardener (eds.), Proceedings of the 2009 Galápagos Science Symposium, Charles Darwin Foundation, Puerto Ayora, Ecuador.


Current Teaching:

Fall 2019:

EBIO-6100: Ecology of Ecosystem Services Graduate seminar

This seminar has two core components:

(1) We will cover core and frontier concepts on the ecology of ecosystem services, through reading, discussing, and synthesizing the current literature.

(2) Students will work on a collaborative paper. This part of the seminar will also provide an opportunity to discuss key issues in collaborative synthesis science including authorship, ethics, and tools for collaboration.

Spring 2020: 

EBIO 2040: Principles of Ecology 

Previous Teaching and Advising:

I previously taught undergraduate and graduate courses at University of Minnesota, Twin Cities in the Sustainability minor and Fisheries, Wildlife & Conservation programs. To view the syllabi, please click on the course name. For more information on the course description and objectives, please see below. I was on the faculty for the Conservation Sciences and Ecology, Evolution and Behavior graduate programs.

Fall 2018

SUST 3003: Sustainable People, Sustainable Planet (Intro to Sustainability)

Spring 2019

FW5121: Conservation Planning & Structured-Decision Making

Course descriptions and objectives:

Conservation planning and structured decision making (FW5121)

We are impacting our planet and the species and ecosystems on it at an unprecedented rate. This creates key policy challenges to conserve species, ecosystems, and the benefits they provide to people. But, how do we decide what is the best way to tackle these challenges? How do we do this in a world with limited resources (time, money) for conservation, and multiple stakeholders with different objectives? How can we make systematic decisions to get the biggest bang for our conservation buck? To address these questions, this course will cover key topics and concepts in conservation planning and provide exposure and hands-on experience with techniques for conservation plans and decisions. We will cover topics ranging from protected areas, restoration, ecosystem services, and climate change to structured decision-making, adaptive management, and return on investment. The course has a lecture and in class computer lab component. This course will present structured approaches to problem-solving and decision-making from conservation perspective, and students will leave with tools for structuring and solving complex environmental problems. Therefore, this is a foundational course in conservation planning but will also provide students will a tool-box to formulate and solve complex problems in environmental management more broadly and in life.

Prerequisites: Senior or graduate standing, or permission of instructor. Recommended: One course in ecology, environmental science or permission of instructor.


  • Analyze and understand challenges for conservation in our current times
  • Apply and understand key concepts and principles in conservation planning, and their applications in real-world settings
  • Apply current approaches and techniques to solve complex conservation challenges and decisions
  • Evaluate key scientific literature in conservation planning through reading and analyzing scientific papers, and applying this knowledge to lab assignments designed as hypothetical conservation plans and decisions.

Sustainable People, Sustainable Planet (SUST 3003)

Sustainability recognizes that social equity, environmental integrity, and economic prosperity are all worthy goals, but that these goals compete, so that it is impossible to maximize all three of them concurrently. Some objectives of sustainability are therefore realized at the cost of other equally valid objectives. Sustainability is inherently ethical and requires decisions to be rooted in moral principles and value judgments. In Sustainable People, Sustainable Planet, we will approach sustainability from multiple viewpoints and explore various models for understanding and integrating these value judgments. We will demonstrate, by utilizing a variety of real-world case studies, the conflicts and trade-offs that occur from trying to put sustainability into practice.

Prerequisites: Sustainable People, Sustainable Planet is intended for sophomores and above. There are no formal prerequisites, but you should have previous exposure to critical reading, writing, and thinking (e.g., freshman writing). The course currently satisfies the CLE elective theme for Environment, and is also the introduction course for the Sustainability Studies Minor.


  • Describe, explain, interpret, and summarize basic facts and concepts involved in the study and practice of sustainability
  • Connect the diversity of perspectives involved in sustainability, including history, philosophy, psychology, economics, politics, religion, culture, science, and technology
  • Examine, and discuss competing economic, social, and environmental goals
  • Collaborate with others to find common ground in the search for sustainability
  • Appraise, assess, and evaluate real-world case studies involving sustainability trade-offs
  • Incorporate concepts of sustainability into your own life



Funding resources for PhD students: I’ve compiled a list of funding resources and grants for PhD students: see it here.

Causal Inference in Observations & Econometrics Resources – More coming soon!

R, stats, LaTeX, or other time-saving tips 

Dynamic Programming & Markov Decision Process Resources

Advice on the publishing process