Sheryl Petersen



440.946.4400, ext. 265

Sheryl Petersen



Postdoctoral Scholar,

The Holden Arboretum and Case Western Reserve University


Ph.D. 2012, Case Western Reserve University

M.S. 2006, Case Western Reserve University

B.A. 2000, Hiram College


Curriculum Vitae

Research Interests

As anyone who has hiked through a local natural area has observed, vegetation changes as you walk across the landscape. These differences in plant communities may be caused by spatial variation in the environment, such as light, soil moisture, and nutrients; species interactions, such as competition, predation, and mutualisms; or disturbances, such as fire, flooding, and windstorms. As an ecologist, I am interested in understanding what factors drive changes in plant community structure (i.e., composition, abundance, diversity) and productivity over space and time. My research focuses primarily on how human alterations to these factors and processes affect plant community dynamics. I combine descriptive and experimental approaches to address questions that are relevant to both basic and applied plant ecology. Understanding the mechanisms underlying plant community dynamics is important for both predicting community response to continuing changes and informing the management and restoration of ecosystems altered by human activities.



Petersen, S.M. and P.B. Drewa. 2009. Are vegetation-environment relationships different between herbaceous and woody groundcover plants in barrens with shallow soils? Écoscience 12: 197-208.


Albro, S.L., S.M. Petersen, A.C. Bachmann, and P.B. Drewa. 2008. Effects of fragmentation on juvenile morphology of Acer saccharum Marsh. (sugar maple) in temperate forests of northeastern Ohio, USA. Forest Ecology and Management 254: 233-238.


Petersen, S.M. and P.B. Drewa. 2006. Did lightning-initiated growing season fires characterize oak-dominated ecosystems of southern Ohio? Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 133: 217-224.