Thomas Whitlow

Thomas Whitlow

Associate Professor

23 Plant Science
(607) 255-1793

As a plant ecologist, I focus on using plants to restore ecosystem functions to cities and other human impacted landscapes. I take an interdisciplinary approach, using physiological ecology, atmospheric science, soil science and hydrology.

Research Focus

My research focuses on the interactions between plants and human dominated landscapes. These are often disturbed and far from equilibrium. At the same time, the same biophysical processes that operate under more natural conditions undoubtedly operate under these conditions as well. How do plant communities function under these extreme conditions and how do they exert an influence on their local environments? With adequate understanding of these interactions, we can design and manipulate plant communities to maintain a modicum of ecosystem function and provide ecosystem services to humans.

Outreach and Extension Focus

My focus in on engaging community stakeholders in issues and activities dealing with sustainability, urban ecology, best management practices.

Teaching Focus

Tools for Thought is a graduate level course involving reading and discussion of both classic and current papers dealing with scientific method, the philosophy of science, scientific ethics and other topics relevant to the engaged modern scientist.

I teach Restoration Ecology (HORT 4400). Restoration ecology synthesizes contemporary theory with practice to mitigate loss of ecological function and service. Students gain a functional ability to approach novel restoration problems, derive appropriate solutions from basic ecology, and apply these to a real world project. A keystone of the course is a technical report and public presentation addressing a local restoration project.

Urban Ecosystems (HORT 2240) is an interdisciplinary course exploring the complex interactions among humans and natural ecosystem processes in the built environment.

Selected Publications

Journal Publications

  • Pataki, D. E., Carreiro, M. M., Cherrier, J., Grulke, N. E., Jennings, V., Pincetl, S., Pouyat, R. V., Whitlow, T. H., & Zipperer, W. C. (2011). Coupling biogeochemical cycles in urban environments: ecosystem services, green solutions, and misconceptions. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. 9:27-36.
  • Whitlow, T. H., Hall, A., Zhang, K. M., & Anguita, J. (2011). Impact of local traffic exclusion on near-road air quality: findings from the new York City "Summer Streets" campaign. Environmental Pollution. 159:2016-2027.
  • Barney, J. N., Whitlow, T. H., & DiTommaso, A. (2009). Evolution of an invasive phenotype: shift to belowground dominance and enhanced competitive ability in the introduced range. Plant Ecology. 202:275-284.
  • Barney, J. N., Whitlow, T. H., & Lembo, A. J. (2008). Revealing Historic Invasion Patterns and Potential Invasion Sites for Two Non-Native Plant Species. PLoS One. 3:e1635.
  • Barney, J. N., Sparks, J. P., Greenberg, J., Whitlow, T. H., & Guenther, A. (2008). Biogenic volatile organic compounds from an invasive species: impacts on plant-plant interactions. Plant Ecology. DOI 10.1007/s11258-008-9529-4:11.
  • Barney, J. N., & Whitlow, T. H. (2008). A unifying framework for biological invasions: the state factor model. Biological Invasions. DOI 10.1007/s10530-007-9127-8:14.
  • Uva, R. H., & Whitlow, T. H. (2007). Cultural methods for beach plum (Prunus maritima) production. Journal of American Pomological Society. 61:3-13.
  • Bauerle , W. L., Whitlow, T. H., Setter, T. L., & Vermeylen , F. M. (2004). Abscisic acid synthesis in Acer rubrum L. leaves -- A vapor pressure deficit mediated response. Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science. 129:182-187.
  • Bauerle, W. L., Whitlow, T. H., Setter, T. L., Vermeylen, F. M., & Bauerle, T. L. (2003). Ecophysiology of Acer rubrum L. seedlings from contrasting hydrologic habitats: Growth, gas exchange, abscisic acid, and stable isotope discrimination. Tree Physiology. 23:841–850.
  • Whitlow, T. H., Bauerle, W. L., Pollock, C. R., & Frongillo, E. A. (2002). A laser-diode-based system for measuring sap flow by the heat pulse method. non-invasive laser system for sap flow measurement. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology. 110:275-284.

Presentations and Activities

  • Does Green Infrastructure Affect Air Quality and Human Health? A Community on Ecosystem Services. December 2014. ACES. Arlington, VA.
  • Urban Atmospheric Deposition: The Next Frontier. National tmospheric Deposition Program Scientific Symposium. October 2014. NADP. Indianapolis, IN.
  • Nativity, Diversity and Function: Creating Novel Ecosystems in the Restoration Context. Ithaca Native Landscape Symposium. March 2014. INLS. Ithaca, NY.
  • Clearing the Air: Re-thinking the role of vegetation in mitigating air pollution. Workshop on the Role of Vegetation in Reducing Near-Road Pollution. June 2012. US Environmental protection Agency. Sacramento, CA.