Bradley J. Cardinale Ph.D.

Professor and Director, Cooperative Institute for Limnology and Ecosystem Research (CILER)

2002 Ph.D. in Biology, University of Maryland
1996 M.S. in Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State University
1993 B.S. in Biology, Arizona State University

I am an ecologist who uses mathematical models, novel experiments, observational studies and meta-analyses of existing data to examine how human activities impact biological diversity, and to predict how changes in biodiversity affect the goods and services ecosystems provide to humanity.  My research, teaching, and professional service are all tied together by a common thread, which is to produce and distribute the knowledge needed to conserve and restore the variety of life on Earth.  I work mostly in freshwater ecosystems, but frequently extend into marine and terrestrial habitats to gain new insight and find generalities.

Select Honors & Awards

  • 2015 Sierra Club Burton V. Barnes Award for Excellence in Academia.  Awarded annually by the Michigan chapter of the Sierra Club for work leading to protection of Michigan’s environment.
  • 2014 Named by Thompson Reuters as one of The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds – a distinction for researchers who have written the greatest number of papers designated by Essential Science Indicators as Highly Cited Papers from 2002-12 (ranking in the top 1% of citations for subject field of Environment/Ecology).  
  • 2013 Elected fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
  • 2010 Harold J. Plous Memorial Award.  University of California-Santa Barbara's highest honor for junior faculty, given annually to an assistant professor for exceptional achievement in research, teaching, and professional service.
  • 2003 Hynes Award for New Investigators.  Annual award from the Society for Freshwater Science honoring the most influential paper published by a young scientist.


My research program features two primary branches. The first seeks to identify how changes in biodiversity impact ecological processes that are essential to the functioning of ecosystems, and the goods and services ecosystems provide to society.  My experiments have detailed the biological mechanisms by which biodiversity affects both physical (e.g., erosion) and biological processes (e.g., productivity) in ecosystems.  I have facilitated large data syntheses that identify generalities in how biodiversity impacts ecosystem processes across organisms and ecosystems and, most recently, I have helped estimate the value of biodiversity for the goods and services ecosystems provide to society.  In addition to my work on biodiversity, a second branch of my research focuses on restoration of species and the processes they perform to ecosystems that have been degraded.  I have been opportunistically involved in restoration projects that lend themselves to scientific testing of the efficacy of different restoration techniques, or to identifying bottle-necks that limit the recovery of species.  

Teaching & mentoring

My teaching portfolio focuses on training students how to merge principles from ecology with management tools and techniques needed to conserve and restore biodiversity and ecosystem processes.  I currently teach

NRE 517 Conservation Biology – a graduate level course in conservation that teaches students the tools and techniques they need to become future practitioners.

NRE 552 Ecosystem Services - an interdisciplinary class that teaches students how to quantitatively value nature by marrying principles from ecology and environmental economics.  

NRE 589 Ecological Restoration - an interdisciplinary class that brings together ecological science and landscape design to teach students how to restore degraded habitats.

To date I have advised 8 graduate students and 11 postdoctoral scholars, many of whom have gone on to top positions in academia, government agencies, or consulting firms.  I am especially proud of my role in fostering undergraduate education in research.  Nearly 60 undergraduates have been trained in my lab, with about one-third from demographic groups that are under-represented in science.  Almost half of my undergraduates have completed independent research projects, leading to 13 co-authored publications and dozens of talks at conferences.  


To date, I have published 95 peer-reviewed papers, including 7 in Nature or Science, 3 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 13 in Ecology, and 8 in Ecology Letters.  I am proud of the fact that my postdocs have led or co-authored 26 papers, graduate students 14, undergraduates 10, and high-school interns 3.  Work from my lab has received extensive coverage in the popular media, leading to numerous interviews on U.S. National Public Radio (NPR), press conferences by the U.S. National Science Foundation, syndicated newspaper articles by Reuters, the British Broadcast Corporation (BBC), the Canadian Broadcast Corporation (CBC), and stories in popular magazines like Discover, Scientific American, and National Geographic.  

To view my lab’s publications, please visit my lab website or Google Scholar profile at the links below:


G110c Dana

(734) 764-9689