Rebecca Ostertag

Dr. Ostertag

Contact Becky Ostertag. Personal Website


  • Ph.D., Botany, University of Florida
  • B.A., Biology, Carleton College

Courses Taught

  • Natural History & Conservation of Hawaiian Islands (BIOL 156/MARE 156)
  • Natural History Field Trips (BIOL 156L/MARE 156L)
  • General Ecology (BIOL 281 & 281L)
  • Conservation Biology (BIOL 381)
  • Advanced Ecology and Evolution (BIOL 481 & 481L)
  • Principles of Tropical Conservation Biology & Environmental Science (CBES 600)
  • Field & Laboratory Methods in Tropical Conservation Biology & Environmental Science (CBES 601)

Research Interests

My research addresses questions relating to nutrient cycling and ecosystem function of tropical forests, vital information needed for forest management and restoration. One major theme deals with understanding the mechanisms by which invasive species vary in their resource use traits and alter native-dominated ecosystems. Other research themes include 1) foliar chemistry changes in nitrogen and phosphorus after fertilization, linking plant storage to nutrient cycling within tropical wet forest communities; 2) long-term dynamics of Hawaiian tropical forests using permanent plot sampling methodolgoy; and 3) secondary succession.

My collaborators and I are presently conducting field work in lowland wet forests, montane wet forests, lowland dry forests, and kiawe scrub in Hawai`i. My research has a strong field component and involves integration of natural history, community structure, and ecosystem dynamics.

See my personal website for more a more detailed list of publications and research topics.

Selected Publications

  • Meyer, III, W.M., R. Ostertag, and R.H. Cowie. 2011. Macro-invertebrates accelerate litter decomposition and nutrient release in a young Hawaiian rainforest. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 43: 206-211.
  • Ostertag, R. 2010. Foliar nitrogen and phosphorus accumulation responses after fertilization: an example from nutrient-limited Hawaiian forests. Plant and Soil 334: 85-98.
  • Inman-Narahari, F., C. Giardina, R. Ostertag, S. Cordell, and L. Sack. 2010. Digital data collection in forest plots. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 1: 274-279.
  • McDaniel, S. and R. Ostertag. 2010. Strategic light manipulation can be a sustainable restoration strategy to suppress alien grasses and encourage native regeneration in Hawaiian mesic forests. Applied Vegetation Science 13: 280-290.
  • Cordell, S., R. Ostertag, B. Rowe, L. Sweinhart, L. Vasquez-Radonic, J. Michaud, T.C. Cole, and J.R. Schulten. 2009. Evaluating barriers to native seedling establishment in an invaded Hawaiian lowland wet forest. Biological Conservation 142: 2997-3004.
  • Ostertag, R., S. Cordell, J. Michaud, T.C. Cole, J.R. Schulten, K.M. Publico, and J.H. Enoka. 2009. Ecosystem and restoration consequences of invasive woody species removal in Hawaiian lowland wet forest. Ecosystems 12: 503-515.
  • Marin-Spiotta, E., W. L. Silver, C.W. Swanston, and R. Ostertag. 2009. Soil carbon gain and loss during 80 years of reforestation of tropical pastures. Global Change Biology 15: 1584-1597.
  • Ostertag, R., E. Marin-Spiotta, W. L. Silver, and J.R. Schulten. 2008. Litterfall and decomposition in relation to soil carbon pools along a secondary forest chronosequence in Puerto Rico. Ecosystems 11: 701-714.
  • Ostertag, R., C.P. Giardina, and S. Cordell. 2008. Understory colonization of Eucalyptus plantations in Hawaii in relation to light and nutrient Levels. Restoration Ecology 16: 475-485.
  • Marin-Spiotta, E., D.F. Cusack, R. Ostertag, and W. L. Silver. 2008. Trends in above and belowground carbon with forest regrowth after agricultural abandonment in the Neotropics. Pages 22-72 in R.W. Myster, editor. Post-Agricultural Succession in the Neotropics. Springer, New York.
  • Zimmerman, N., R.F. Hughes, S. Cordell, P. Hart, H.K. Chang, D. Perez, R.K. Like, and R. Ostertag. 2008. Patterns of primary succession of native and introduced plants in lowland wet forests in Eastern Hawaii. Biotropica 40: 277-284.