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John Stella

John C. Stella
Associate Professor

344 Illick Hall
1 Forestry Dr.
Syracuse, New York 13210

Phone: (315) 470-4902/470-6536


Highest Education

Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley (Environmental Science, Policy and Management), 2005

Areas of Study

Riparian and stream ecology; plant ecohydrology and dendroecology; aridland and Mediterranean ecosystems; river corridor restoration.

Courses Taught

Selected Publications (*Indicates Student Author)


Manners, R., A.C. Wilcox, L. Kui*, A. Lightbody, J.C. Stella, L. Sklar. (in press) When do plants modify fluvial processes? Plant-hydraulic interactions under variable flow and sediment supply rates. Journal of Geophysical Research - Earth Surface

Kui, Li*, J.C. Stella, A. Lightbody, A.C. Wilcox. (in press) Variation in ecogeomorphic feedbacks and flood loss of riparian tree seedlings in meandering channel experiments. Water Resources Research.

Dufour, S., M.K. Hayden*, J.C. Stella, H. Piégay, J.J. Battles. 2014 Maintaining channel abandonment processes increases riparian plant diversity within fluvial corridors. Ecohydrology. DOI: 10.1002/eco.1546 [pdf]

Riddle, J., N. Pedersen, J.C. Stella, D.L. Leopold. 2014. Shifting climate sensitivity and contrasting growth trends in Juniperus species growing together at opposite range margins. Tree-Ring Research 70:101–111. DOI: 10.3959/1536-1098-70.2.101 [pdf]

Stella, J.C., J. Riddle*, H. Piégay, M. Gagnage*, M-L. Trémélo. 2013. Climate and local geomorphic interactions drive patterns of riparian forest decline along a Mediterranean Basin river. Geomorphology. DOI: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2013.01.013 [pdf]

Bendix, J., and J.C. Stella. 2013. Riparian Vegetation and the Fluvial Environment: A Biogeographic Perspective. In Treatise on Geomorphology 12: Ecogeomorphology (D. Butler and C. Hupp, Eds.). Elsevier, San Diego. [pdf]

Stella, J.C., P. Rodríguez-González, S. Dufour, J. Bendix. 2013 Riparian vegetation research in Mediterranean-climate regions: common patterns, ecological processes, and considerations for management. Hydrobiologia. DOI: 10.1007/s10750-012-1304-9 [pdf]

Eallonardo, A. S.*, D.J. Leopold, J.D. Fridley and J.C. Stella. 2012. Salinity tolerance and the decoupling of resource axis plant traits. Journal of Vegetation Science. DOI: 10.1111/j.1654-1103.2012.01470.x [pdf]

Singer, M.B., J.C. Stella, S. Dufour, L.B. Johnstone*, H. Piégay, and R.J.S. Wilson. 2012. Contrasting water uptake and growth responses to drought in co-occurring riparian tree species. Ecohydrology. DOI: 10.1002/eco.1283 [pdf]

Beier C.M., Stella J.C., Dovçiak M., McNulty S.A. 2012. Local climatic drivers of changes in phenology at a boreal-temperate ecotone in eastern North America. Climatic Change DOI: 10.1007/s10584-012-0455-z [pdf]

Schifman, L.A.*, J.C. Stella, M. Teece and T.A. Volk. 2012. Plant growth and water stress response of hybrid willow (Salix spp.) among sites and years in central New York. Biomass & Bioenergy. Published online 16 Nov. 2011; doi:10.1016/j.biombioe.2011.10.042 [pdf]

Stella, J.C., J.D. Riddle, J.J. Battles, M.K. Hayden*, and A.K. Fremier. 2012. Riparian forest dynamics on a large, regulated river (California, USA): impacts and implications for management. Proceedings of the Integrative Sciences and Sustainable Development of Rivers (IS Rivers) Conference, Lyon, France, 26–28 June 2012. [pdf]

Stella, J.C., M.K. Hayden*, J.J. Battles, H. Piégay, S. Dufour, and A.K. Fremier. 2011. The role of abandoned channels as refugia for sustaining pioneer riparian forest ecosystems. Ecosystems 14: 776-790. [pdf]

Harper, E.B., J.C. Stella, A.K. Fremier. 2011. Global sensitivity analysis for complex ecological models: a case study of riparian cottonwood population dynamics. Ecological Applications 21: 1225-1240. DOI:10.1890/10-0506.1 [pdf]

Downs, P.W., M.S. Singer, B.K. Orr, Z.E. Diggory, T.C. Church, and J.C. Stella. 2011. Restoring ecological integrity in highly regulated rivers: The role of baseline data and analytical references. Environmental Management 48:847-864. DOI: 10.1007/s00267-011-9736-y

Stella, J.C., and J.J. Battles. 2010. How do riparian woody seedlings survive seasonal drought? Oecologia 164:579–590. DOI 10.1007/s00442-010-1657-6 [pdf]

Stella, J.C., J.J. Battles, J.R. McBride, B.K. Orr. 2010. Riparian seedling mortality from simulated water table recession, and the design of sustainable flow regimes on regulated rivers. Restoration Ecology 18: 284-294. DOI: 10.1111/j.1526-100X.2010.00651.x [pdf]

Rodríguez-González, P.M., J.C. Stella, F. Campelo, T. Ferreira, A. Albuquerque. 2010. Subsidy or stress? Tree structure and growth in wetland forests along a hydrological gradient in southern Europe. Forest Ecology and Management 259: 2015–2025. [pdf]

Stella, J.C., J.J. Battles, B.K. Orr, J.R. McBride. 2006. Synchrony of seed dispersal, hydrology and local climate in a semi-arid river reach in California. Ecosystems 9:1200-1214. [pdf]

Stella, J.C., J.C. Vick, B.K. Orr. 2004. Riparian vegetation dynamics on the Merced River. The Wilderness Society Riparian Floodplains Conference Proceedings.Sacramento, California. March 2001.[pdf]

Current Graduate Advisees

Shawn ClevelandShawn Cleveland

  • Degree Sought: PHD
  • Graduate Advisor(s): Stella
  • Area of Study: Environmental Monitoring

Graduate Research Topic
I am studying the influence of beaver on riparian systems. More specifically, I want to quantify the spatial distribution of beaver lodges, how beaver directly impact the forests in the “forage footprint” associated with the lodge, and finally if beaver created forest disturbance provides a more historically representative stand structure than we currently see in many eastern forests.

Andrea IronsAndrea Irons

  • Degree Sought: MS
  • Graduate Advisor(s): Stella
  • Area of Study: Water & Wetland Resource Studies
  • Undergraduate Institute: University of Calif Berkeley (Environmental Science)

Personal Statement
I am studying riparian forest dynamics along California’s Sacramento River. I love both forests and rivers, and am interested in how they affect one another. I hope to analyze the relationship between flow regimes and tree recruitment and succession, particularly focusing on the Fremont Cottonwoods native to the area. Utilizing GIS, hundreds of tree cores, and sediment data, I hope to draw a picture of how the riparian forest has changed in relation to the Sacramento River over time.

Stefan KarkuffStefan Karkuff

  • Degree Sought: MS
  • Graduate Advisor(s): Stella and Schulz
  • Area of Study: Conservation Biology

Graduate Research Topic
I am interested in understanding the nutrient benefits of allochthonous leaf litter in Northeastern US vernal pool ecosystems. My goal is to quantify the nutritional value of various leaf species using physical, chemical, and biological indicators. These unique microecosystems are typically found in heavily shaded forests, and therefore lack the primary production benefits of most larger wetlands. Thus, this project will contribute significantly to our understanding of the controlling influence of stand composition and structure on forest wetlands. My results will have direct relevance to agencies engaged in vernal pool creation and wetland mitigation.

Favorite Quote
"Go climb a mountain"

Li KuiLi Kui

  • Degree Sought: PHD
  • Graduate Advisor(s): Stella
  • Area of Study: Water & Wetland Resource Studies
  • Previous Graduate Study: Texas A&m University of College Sta* (Forestry and Related)

Graduate Research Topic
I am studying the reciprocal influences between river disturbance regimes (flooding and sediment transport) and riparian tree populations. My research is a part of a three-university cooperative project funded by NSF: Quantifying feedbacks between fluvial morphodynamics and pioneer riparian vegetation in sand-bed rivers. My work integrates full scale flume studies at the Outdoor Stream Lab at the University of Minnesota (St. Anthony Falls Laboratory), field studies on the Bill Williams River in Arizona, and geospatial analysis of vegetation and geomorphic change over time, collaborated with USGS.

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State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry
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