John C. Stella | Forest and Natural Resources Management | SUNY-ESF
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John C. StellaVice President for Research and Campus Operations Manager

John Stella

200 Bray Hall
1 Forestry Drive
Syracuse, NY 13210

315-470-6609 | 315-470-6606

You can read more about my research and lab group at the links below. 

​To learn about ESF's graduate programs, please visit THE GRADUATE SCHOOL at SUNY-ESF. 

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

Current Graduate Advisees

Current Graduate Advisees

Jordan JessamyJordan Jessamy

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


Graduate Research Topic
Change in Urban Greenspace Structure and Function Along an Urban Gradient

Lissa PelletierLissa Pelletier

  • Degree Sought: MS
  • Graduate Advisor(s): Stella
  • Area of Study: ESC Ecosystem Restoration

Melissa RohdeMelissa Rohde

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

Jared WilliamsJared Williams

  • Degree Sought: PHD
  • Graduate Advisor(s): Stella
  • Area of Study: Water & Wetland Resource Studies

Rachel ZevinRachel Zevin

  • Degree Sought: MS
  • Graduate Advisor(s): Stella
  • Area of Study: ESC Water & Wetland Resource Studies
  • Undergraduate Institution: University of Vermont

Web Link

Personal Statement
Rachel Zevin, a passionate environmentalist, joined the Stella lab in the summer of 2017. After deciding as a child to dedicate her life to the protection of nature, Rachel attended the University of Vermont, where she graduated with multiple honors (Rubenstein School Honors and as an Honors College Scholar). She majored in Natural Resource Ecology and minored in Geospatial Technologies. While in undergrad, Rachel performed independent research (thesis titled, “Effect of wind disturbance intensity on Carabidae assemblages”) for UVM's Forest Ecosystem Health lab. In addition, she worked for the Watershed Alliance of the Lake Champlain Basin Program and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, educating water ecosystem health and science. Since graduating, Rachel has worked as a GIS technician for the State of Vermont's Agency of Agriculture and the New England Division of the United States Army Corps of Engineers. Rachel is thrilled to have joined the Stella Lab. Her research goals are to create geospatial models to predict areas well-suited for beaver occupancy in the Adirondack Mountains and then further predict whether beaver occupancy would be detrimental to nearby humans. This will be done using a combination of field data, collected by Rachel and other past and present members of the Stella Lab, and geospatial data products. To contact Rachel email

Graduate Research Topic
Rachel Zevin's graduate research project is to create geospatial models to predict areas well suited for beaver occupancy in the Adirondack Mountains and then further predict whether beaver occupancy would be detrimental to nearby humans.

Favorite Quote
"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not." ~ Dr. Suess, The Lorax

Yun ZhaoYun Zhao

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

Current and Former Undergraduate Researchers

Mike Mahoney (B.S. in Forest Ecosystem Science, Fall 2018) is an undergraduate student in the Stella Lab working on his honors thesis. He is interested in the larger role beavers play within forest ecosystems, both from an ecological and a natural resources management perspective. He is studying how beaver foraging impacts forest health, including aspects of both forest structure and non-monetary values such as aesthetics and tree architecture.

Giselle Schreiber (B.S. in Environmental Science major with Marine Science minor, Spring 2018) completed her senior capstone project on the influence of several abiotic factors (temperature, precipitation, sediment depth, etc.) on the growth rate of Populus fremontii  (Fremont cottonwood)a keystone riparian tree species in the Sacramento River Valley of California. She was raised in Miami, Florida and has experience working with freshwater and marine fish and invertebrates.

Will Fernandez (B.S. in Environmental Science major, Spring 2018) completed his senior capstone project on the impacts of beaver on riparian forest communities surrounding lakes at the Huntington Wildlife Forest in the central Adirondacks.

Margaret (“Maisie”) Baronian (B.S. in Environmental Science major with Mathematics minor, Spring 2018) focused her senior capstone project on  how seasona precipitation events impact instream conductivity levels in an urban stream. Conductivity concentrations in streamwater can be used as an indicator for road salt, which is widely applied in the region as a de-icer in winter. She used the statistical software R to model hydrologic conditions in Meadowbrook Creek in Syracuse, NY, using data collected from automated stream gauges.


***undergrad advisee; ** grad advisee; *other student contributor

Sabathier, R.*, Singer, M.B, Stella, J.C., Roberts, D.A., Caylor, K.K. (in review) Investigating vegetation responses to climatic and geologic controls on water availability in the Southwest USA. Environmental Research Letters (ERL-109499)

Haynes, K.R.*, J. Friedman, J.C. Stella, D.J. Leopold. (in press). Assessing climate change tolerance and the niche breadth-range size hypothesis in rare and widespread plants. Oecologia

Jayasuriya, M.T.*, J.C. Stella, R.H. Germain. (in press) Elevated streambank plant community diversity and composition define functional riparian zones in mesic headwater forests across the northeastern U.S. Journal of Forestry

Stephan, E.*, T. Endreny, P. Groffman, P.G. Vidon, J.C. Stella. (in revision) Development of a predictive tool to assess denitrification potential across urban, suburban and forested landscapes. Journal of Environmental Management

Stella, J.C., L. Kui, G.H. Golet, F. Poulsen. (in revision). Modeling riparian forest structure to estimate large wood inputs and other ecosystem services on geomorphically active floodplains. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms.

Warter, M.M.*, M.B. Singer, M.O. Cuthbert, D.A. Roberts, K. Caylor, R. Sabathier*, J.C. Stella. (in revision) Onset and propagation of the 2012 – 2019 drought in Southern California. HESS.

Janssen P., J.C. Stella, H. Piégay, B. Räpple**, R. Gruel**, B. Pont, S. Dufour. 2020. Response of riparian forest structure and composition to long-term, cumulative impacts along a large river. Journal of Environmental Management DOI: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2020.111630

Mayes, M., K. Caylor, M.B. Singer, J.C. Stella, D.A. Roberts, P. Nagler. 2020. Climate sensitivity of water use by riparian woodlands at landscape scales. Hydrological Processes. DOI: 10.1002/hyp.13942

Diehl, R.M., A.W. Wilcox and J.C. Stella. 2020. Evaluation of the integrated riparian ecosystem response to future flow regimes on semiarid rivers. Journal of Environmental Management DOI: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2020.111037

Mahoney, M.***, J.C. Stella. 2020. Stem size selectivity is stronger than species preferences for beaver, a central place forager. Forest Ecology and Management. DOI : 10.1016/j.foreco.2020.118331

Kua, Z.X.**, J.C. Stella, J.M. Farrell. 2020. Ecosystem engineer disturbance enhances plant diversity in wetlands subject to water regulation and biotic invasion. Ecosphere. DOI: 10.1002/ecs2.3256

Janssen P., J.C. Stella, H. Piégay, B. Räpple**, B. Pont, J-M Faton, J.H.C. Cornelissen, A. Evette. 2020. Divergence of riparian forest composition and functional traits from natural succession along a degraded river with multiple stressor legacies. Science of the Total Environment 720. DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.137730

Lightbody, A., Kui, L.**, J.C. Stella, K.W. Skorko, S. Bywater-Reyes, A.C. Wilcox. 2019. Riparian vegetation and sediment supply regulate the morphodynamic flood response of an experimental stream to floods. Frontiers in Environmental Science (Freshwater Science section). DOI: 10.3389/fenvs.2019.00040

Stella, J.C. and J. Bendix. 2018. Chapter 5: Multiple stressors in riparian ecosystems. In Multiple stressors in river ecosystems: status, impacts and prospects for the future (S. Sabater, A. Elosegi, R. Ludwig, Eds.). Elsevier, San Diego. ISBN: 9780128117132

Kui, L.**, J.C. Stella, R. M. Diehl, A.C. Wilcox, A. Lightbody, L.S. Sklar. 2018. Can environmental flows moderate riparian invasions? The influence of seedling morphology and density on scour losses in experimental floods. Freshwater Biology DOI: 10.1111/fwb.13235 

Matzek, V., J.C. Stella, P. Ropion*. 2018. Development of a carbon calculator tool for riparian restoration. Applied Vegetation Science DOI: 10.1111/avsc.12400

Thorel, M., H. Piégay, C. Barthélémy, B. Räpple**, C-R Gruel*, P. Marmonier, T. Winiarsky, J-P Bedell, F. Arnaud*, G. Roux, J.C. Stella, G. Seignemartin*, A. Tena-Pagan, V. Wawrzyniak*, D. Roux-Michollet, B. Oursel, S. Fayolle, C. Bertrand*, E. Franquet. 2018. Socio-environmental stakes associated with process-based restoration strategies in large rivers: should we remove novel ecosystems along the Rhône (France)? Regional Environmental Change DOI: 10.1007/s10113-018-1325-7

Räpple, B.**, H. Piégay, J.C. Stella, D. Mercier*. 2017. What drives riparian vegetation establishment in river channels at patch to corridor scales? Insights from annual airborne surveys (Drôme River, SE France). Ecohydrology DOI: 10.1002/eco.1886

Kui, L.**, J.C. Stella, P.B. Shafroth, P.K. House, A.C. Wilcox. 2017. The long-term legacy of geomorphic and riparian vegetation feedbacks on the dammed Bill Williams River, Arizona, USA. Ecohydrology DOI:10.1002/eco.1839

Ledford, S.H.*, L.K. Lautz, P.G. Vidon, J.C. Stella. 2017. Impact of seasonal changes in stream metabolism on nitrate concentrations in an urban stream. Biogeochemistry DOI:10.1007/s10533-017-0336-7

Orr, B.K., A.G. Merrill, Z.E. Diggory, J.C. Stella. 2017. Use of the biophysical template for riparian restoration and revegetation in the Southwest. In: Ralston, B.E., and Sarr, D.A., Eds. Case studies of riparian and watershed restoration in the southwestern United States—principles, challenges, and successes. U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2017-1091, 116 p. DOI: 10.3133/ofr20171091

Diehl, R.M., A.C. Wilcox, J.C. Stella, L. Kui**, L. Sklar, A. Lightbody. 2016. Fluvial sediment supply and pioneer woody seedlings as a control on bar-surface topography. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms DOI:10.1002/esp.4017  [pdf]

Hultine, K.R., K.C. Grady, T.E. Wood, S.M. Shuster, J.C. Stella, T.G. Whitham. 2016. Climate change perils for dioecious plant species. Nature Plants. DOI:10.1038/nplants.2016.109  [pdf]

Ledford, S.H.*, L.K. Lautz, J.C. Stella. 2016. Hydrogeologic processes impacting storage, fate, and transport of chloride from road salt in urban riparian aquifers. Environmental Science and Technology 50: 4979–4988 DOI:10.1021/acs.est.6b00402  [pdf]

Kui, L.** and J.C. Stella. 2016. Fluvial sediment burial increases mortality of riparian tree seedlings but induces compensatory growth response in survivors. Forest Ecology and Management, 366. DOI: 10.1016/j.foreco.2016.02.001  [pdf]

Sabater, S., X. Timoner, G. Bornette, M. de Wilde, J.C. Stromberg, J.C. Stella. 2016. The biota of intermittent rivers and ephemeral streams: algae and vascular plants. In Intermittent Rivers: Ecology and Management (T. Datry, N. Bonada and A. Boulton, Eds.). Elsevier, San Diego. DOI:10.1016/B978-0-12-803835-2.00016-4

Bywater-Reyes, S.*, A.C. Wilcox, J.C. Stella, and A.F. Lightbody. 2015. Flow and scour constraints on uprooting of pioneer woody seedlings, Water Resources Research, 51. DOI:10.1002/2014WR016641  [pdf]

Dixon, M.D. and J.C. Stella. 2015. Temporal variability in hydrology modifies the influence of geomorphology on wetland distribution along a desert stream: a commentary on Dong et al. 2015. Journal of Ecology. DOI:10.1111/1365-2745.12499  [pdf]

Bishop, D.A.*, C.M. Beier, N. Pedersen, G.B. Lawrence, J.C. Stella, T.J. Sullivan. 2015. Regional growth decline in sugar maple (Acer saccharum) and potential causes. Ecosphere. DOI:10.1890/ES15-00260.1  [pdf]

Manners, R., A.C. Wilcox, L. Kui**, A. Lightbody, J.C. Stella, L. Sklar. 2015. When do plants modify fluvial processes? Plant-hydraulic interactions under variable flow and sediment supply rates. Journal of Geophysical Research – Earth Surface. DOI:10.1002/2014JF003265  [pdf]

Stella, J.C., H. Piégay, J.D. Riddle, C. Gruel*, B. Räpple**. 2015. Riparian forest impacts and dynamics on large rivers managed for multiple uses; insights from the Sacramento (California, USA) and Rhône (France). Proceedings of the Second Integrative Sciences and Sustainable Development of Rivers (IS Rivers) Conference, Lyon, France, 22–26 June 2015.

Räpple, B.**, K. Michel, H. Piégay, R. Dunford, D. Mercier*, J.C. Stella. 2015. Caracteristiques et dynamique de la vegetation riveraine sur la riviere Drôme: analyses à partir d’images aeriennes de très haute résolution. Proceedings of the Société Hydrotechnique de France (SHF) annual congress. Paris, France, April 2015.

Kui, Li**, J.C. Stella, A. Lightbody, A.C. Wilcox. 2014. Ecogeomorphic feedbacks and flood loss of riparian tree seedlings in meandering channel experiments. Water Resources Research. 50, DOI: 10.1002/2014WR015719  [pdf]

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  [pdf]

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]