Peter Wilfahrt: Curriculum Vitae



2010 – 2016: Ph. D. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Curriculum for the Environment and Ecology Thesis title: From old fields to forests: Understanding plant successional dynamics through the lens of functional traits.


2004 – 2008: B.S. in Zoology. University of Wisconsin – Madison


Academic Appointments


2016 – 2018: Postdoctoral Researcher. University of Bayreuth, Germany. Department of Disturbance Ecology


Peer Reviewed Publications


Halliday, FH, RW Heckman, PA Wilfahrt, & Mitchell, CE. 2017. A multivariate test of disease risk reveals conditions leading to disease amplification. Proceedings of the Royal Academy.


B. Heckman, R. W., Halliday, F. W., Wilfahrt, P. A., & Mitchell, C. E. 2017. Effects of native diversity, soil nutrients, and natural enemies on exotic invasion in experimental plant communities. Ecology.


Wilfahrt, PA, B Collins, and PS White. 2014. Functional shifts in tree communities across succession in eastern deciduous forests. Forest Ecology and Management: Special Section – Sustaining Young Forest Communities.


Coyle, J.R., F.W. Halliday, B.E. Lopez, K.A. Palmquist, P.A. Wilfahrt, and A.H. Hurlbert. 2014 Using trait and phylogenetic diversity to evaluate the generality of the stress-dominance hypothesis in eastern North American tree communities. Ecography. (Editor’s choice and featured on journal cover)


Contributed Book Chapters


Wilfahrt, PA, PS White, B Collins, and JP Tuttle. 2016. Disturbance, Productivity, and Tree Characteristics in the Central Hardwoods Region. In: Greenberg, CH, BS Collins, eds. Natural Disturbances and Range of Variation: Type, Frequency, Severity, and Post-disturbance Structure in Central Hardwood Forests. Springer Books.


Publications in Review


Wilfahrt, PA. In review. Regional recruitment processes in post-disturbance temperate forests: Functional traits reveal continental-scale variability


Current Projects


SusAlps – Sustainable use of alpine grasslands in a changing climate. Monitoring changes in biodiversity, primary productivity, and leaf chemistry changes in translocated plant-soil mesocosms in the German Alps.


The Bayreuth Phytometer – The development of a common metric for community ecology. Using three common, globally cosmopolitan grassland species grown in a standardized substrate and local soils, we reduce sources of variation to climatic and edaphic differences for use in distributed experiments.


EVENT – Understanding the role of biodiversity in buffering effects of extreme weather event in grasslands. The EVENT experiments are a series of drought, warming, and late frost experiments that have cumulatively collected over a decade of data on vegetation and ecosystem data


Diversity, Resources, and Enemies – From 2012 to 2015 we manipulated soil resource supply, access by plant enemies, and initial plant biodiversity of an old field system to understand how these drivers interact to affect successional dynamics of plant species and functional traits.


Teaching Experience



Guest lecturer for Vegetation Ecology. University of Bayreuth. Topic: Succession dynamics.


Guest lecturer for Disturbance Ecology. University of Bayreuth. Topic: Succession and Disturbance.


Secondary advisor for MSc students, Lisa Ahl and Max Schuchardt and BS student: Leonie Gass


Stability, Resilience, and Inertia seminar. University of Bayreuth. Master’s level seminar on understanding resilience of ecological and socio-ecological systems.


Trends in Biogeography. University of Bayreuth. Weekly seminar reviewing current literature in ecology. Emphasis on training bachelor, master, and PhD level students to critically evaluate the scientific literature.


Scientific Writing in Biogeography and Disturbance Ecology. Review of forthcoming manuscripts within department. Mentoring good writing practices and appropriate statistical approaches for PhD students.



Graduate Research Consultant: Assisted students in Global Biodiversity and Macroecology develop and implement research projects in R.


Future Faculty Fellowship Program – Semester long graduate program to develop teaching practices and learn roles and responsibilities of faculty members


Guest lecturer, Biology 565 – Conservation Biology. Topic: Invasive species.



Guest lecturer, Biology 201. Three lectures presented: Climate and Environment, Terrestrial Ecosystems, and Aquatic and Marine Ecosystems


Teaching Assistantships


2013-2016: Biology 565: Conservation Biology. Teaching Assistant. Duties included grading exams, providing feedback to students on project ideas


2014: Environmental Science 490: Water in our World. Teaching Assistant. Duties included grading worksheets, papers, exams. Drafted rubric for research paper.


2013: Biology 272- Local Flora. Teaching Assistant. Duties included grading projects, setting up and assisting with lab.


2011-2012: Biology 101L- Introduction to Biology. Lab instructor. Duties included leading three hour lab periods, grading exams and lab reports, maintaining gradebooks.


2011: Biology 201- Introduction to Ecology and Evolution. Teaching Assistant. Duties include leading recitation sections, proctoring exams, grading exams, guest lecturer for three lecture sessions.


Awards and Fellowships


2017: DAAD Kongressreisen: Awarded to early career scientists for travel to international conference (€2,155)


2015: Dr. W.C. Coker Fellowship: Awarded annually to a graduate student nearing end of degree program ($10,000)


2011-2015: Alma Holland Beers Fellowship: yearly graduate student support for summer research in botany ($3000)


2010: Mrs. W.C. Coker Fellowship ($22,000)


Academic Presentations



Wilfahrt, PA, J Kreyling, C Beierkuhnlein, A Jentsch. Are temperate grasslands water limited? Heavy rain spells have greater impacts than drought on nutrient cycling, primary production and biotic interactions. ESA Portland.



Wilfahrt, PA. Initial plant diversity, soil resource supply, and enemy access drive different ecological tradeoffs during old-field succession. BayCEER Colloquium. Bayreuth, Germany. (Invited)


Wilfahrt, PA, B Berauer, A Jentsch. Using a model plant community to decouple soil effects from climate gradients: A Phytometer approach. ClimMani, Novi Sad, Serbia.



Wilfahrt, PA, FW Halliday, RW Heckman, CE Mitchell. Taxonomic and functional diversity responses to soil nutrients, natural enemies, and community composition. ESA Baltimore.



Wilfahrt, PA, JP Tuttle, and PS White. Evaluating the role of natural and anthropogenic disturbance in shaping functional diversity of the Central Hardwood Region. Association of Southeastern Biologists. Spartanburg, SC. (Invited)


Wilfahrt, PA. Disturbances shift functional trait diversity across US temperate forests. Student Conference on Conservation Science. New York City, NY.



Wilfahrt PA, and PS White. Multi-scale response of a North Carolina piedmont woodland 15 years after Hurricane Fran. ESA Minneapolis. Wilfahrt PA. Regeneration of a North Carolina piedmont woodland 15 years after Hurricane Fran. ASB Charleston.



Coyle JR, Wilfahrt PA, Lopez BE, Palmquist K, Halliday FW, Becraft K, Fieseler C, Hakkenberg C, Payne, CJ, Peck K, Tarasi D, Urbanowicz C, Mitchell C, Peet RK, Hurlbert AH. Inference of ecological processes structuring tree communities in eastern North America using functional and phylogenetic diversity. ESA Portland. Presenting author.


Professional Activities


Professional Memberships

• Ecological Society of America

• ClimMani – EU COST Action for Networking and Outreach in Climate Manipulation studies

• Bayreuth Center for Environmental and Ecological Research

• Association of Southeastern Biologists



 Annals of Botany, Functional Ecology, Plant and Soil


Synergistic Activities



Judge for Buell-Small award for best student presentation at ESA Portland.



Vice-President of Graduate Ecology and Environment Association. Organized Curriculum Symposium featuring graduate and undergraduate student research from UNC and neighboring institutions


Curriculum for the Environment and Ecology liaison to Biology Graduate Student Association. Facilitate communication and collaboration between the Biology Department and Ecology Curriculum.



Chair of the Curriculum for the Environment and Ecology Seminar Committee. Invited and scheduled local and national scientists for a weekly seminar.



Curriculum for the Environment and Ecology graduate student seminar series committee member. Organized and invited national and local seminar speakers.