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1300 Centre Street
Boston, MA 02131


Jake J. Grossman

As a Putnam Fellow, I use physiological experiments to assess the vulnerability of maples (Acer spp.) represented in the Arnold’s living collections to the more frequent, more intense droughts and earlier growing seasons that will likely result from climate change. Through combining field, lab, and greenhouse measurements, I measure the “safety margins” that protect trees from hydraulic failure due to drought and post-budbreak freezing. Drawing on distribution and climate data, I model the evolution of these traits over the maples’ 60 million-year journey from their origins in East Asia to their current global distribution, and ask what this tells us about the challenges posed by climate change. This research is inspired by my collaboration in a study of Midwestern quaking (Populus tremuloides) and bigtooth (P. grandidentata) aspens and their naturally occurring hybrids. In the case of these aspens, we used molecular methods to document the existence of a relictual Pleistocene hybrid in northern Nebraska and found that its vulnerability to drought was intermediate relative to the vulnerability of its parent species.

Prior to coming to the Arnold, I established and managed tree diversity experiments at Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve (in central Minnesota), using them to study the consequences of biodiversity for ecosystem processes. This work involved comparing tree growth, herbivore and disease damage, and litter decomposition in stands ranging from low to high diversity. Having diverse neighbors caused trees to put on more stem biomass and slowed down the decomposition of some chemical components of leaf litter, and had complex effects on trees’ natural enemies and microbial partners.

Other past work has focused on highly human-impacted ecosystems. As a Peace Corps volunteer in eastern Paraguay, I used mixed-methods analysis of interviews to document the role of exotic eucalyptus plantation forestry in the economy and ecology of rural farming communities. Prior to this, I managed a restored marsh in northeastern Ohio and found that, while planting native species enhanced the diversity of assembling plant communities, it did not affect ecosystem processes such as nutrient cycling.

As a former consultant at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Writing, I am passionate about communicating science and working with others to convey their own ideas. Finally, I care deeply about and dedicate myself to work towards enhancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the sciences.

I enjoy communicating about my work and have written articles on cryptic hybrid aspens and the importance of forest biodiversity for the Arboretum’s quarterly magazine, Arnoldia. I have also been fortunate to work with some Boston University students to create multimedia projects on my activism and outreach and climate change research.


  • Grossman, J.J., J. Cavender-Bares, and S.E. Hobbie. In revision (Ecological Monographs). Functional diversity slows the decomposition of labile carbon in temperate forest litter.
  • Runquist, R.D.B*., A.J. Gorton*, J.B. Yoder*, N.J. Deacon, J.J. Grossman, S. Kothari, M.P. Lyons, S.N. Sheth, P. Tiffin, and D.A. Moeller. 2019. Context dependence of local adaptation to abiotic and biotic environments: a quantitative and qualitative synthesis. The American Naturalist DOI
  • Grossman, J.J., A.J. Butterfield†, J. Cavender-Bares, S.E. Hobbie, P.B. Reich, J. Gutknecht, and P.G. Kennedy. 2019. Non-symbiotic soil microbes are more strongly influenced by altered tree biodiversity than arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi are during initial forest establishment. FEMS Microbiology Ecology 95, fiz134, fiz134, DOI
  • Grossman, J.J., J. Cavender-Bares, P.B. Reich, R.A. Montgomery, and S.E. Hobbie. 2019. Neighborhood diversity simultaneously increased and decreased susceptibility to contrasting herbivores in an early stage forest diversity experiment. Journal of Ecology 107:1492-1505.
  • Deacon, N.J.*, J.J. Grossman*, and J. Cavender-Bares. 2019. Tradeoffs between freezing and drought tolerance mechanisms in two midwestern aspens, Populus tremuloides and P. grandidentata, and their hybrid, P. x smithii. Ecology and Evolution 9:8062-8074.
  • Grossman, J.J. and J. Cavender-Bares. 2019. Consequences of biodiversity shift across phylogenetic scales for aspen and willow growth, survival, and herbivory. Journal of Vegetation Science 30:301-311.
  • Grossman, J.J., M. Vanhellemont, N. Barsoum, J. Bauhus, H. Bruelheide, B. Castagneyrol, J. Cavender-Bares, N. Eisenhauer, O. Ferlian, D. Gravel, A. Hector, H. Jactel, H. Kreft, S. Mereu, C. Messier, B. Muys, C. Nock, A. Paquette, J. Parker, M.P. Perring, Q. Ponette, P.B. Reich A. Schuldt, M. Staab, M. Weih, D.C. Zemp, M. Scherer-Lorenzen, K. Verheyen. 2018. Synthesis and future research directions linking tree diversity to growth, survival, and damage in a global network of tree diversity experiments. Environmental and Experimental Botany 152:168-189.
  • Deacon, N.J.*, J.J. Grossman*, A.K. Schweiger, I. Armour, J. Cavender-Bares. 2017. Genetic, morphological, and spectral characterization of relictual Niobrara River hybrid aspens (Populus xsmithii). American Journal of Botany 104:1878-1890.
  • Grossman, J.J., J. Cavender-Bares, S.E. Hobbie, R.A. Montgomery, P.B. Reich. 2017. Species richness and trait means, but not phylogenetic or functional diversity, predict biomass in the establishment phase of a tree diversity experiment. Ecology 98:2601-2614.
  • Brandt, E.C., J.E. Petersen, J.J. Grossman, G.A. Allen, D.H. Benzing. 2015. Relationships between spatial metrics and plant diversity in constructed freshwater wetlands. PLoS ONE DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0135917.
  • Petersen, J.E., E.C. Brandt, J.J. Grossman, G.A. Allen, D.H. Benzing. 2015. A controlled experiment to assess relationships between plant diversity, ecosystem function and planting treatment over a nine year period in constructed freshwater wetlands. Ecological Engineering 82:531-541.
  • Grossman, J.J. 2015. Ecosystem service tradeoffs and land-use among smallholder farmers in Eastern Paraguay. Ecology and Society 20:19. DOI /10.5751/ES-06953-200119.
  • Grossman, J.J. 2015. Eucalypts in agroforestry, reforestation, and smallholders’ conceptions of ‘‘nativeness’’: a multiple case study of plantation owners in Eastern Paraguay. Small-scale Forestry 14:39-57.
  • Grossman, J.J. 2012. A case study of smallholder Eucalyptus plantation silviculture in Eastern Paraguay. Forestry Chronicle 88:528-534.
*Indicates joint primary authorship


PhD, Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior
University of Minnesota
MFR, International Forestry
University of Washington
BA, Biology and Environmental Studies
BA, Biology and Environmental Studies, Oberlin College


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