Kelly O'Donnell

lover of charismatic megaflora

About me

Hello and welcome to my profile! I am an evolutionary ecologist interested in plant response to the novel conditions of the urban environment.

For my dissertation research, I compared natural selection dynamics and phenotypic plasticity in a pair of perennials, invasive Fallopia japonica (Japanese knotweed) and native Persicaria virginiana (woodland knotweed). Plant invasions are natural experiments that allow us to both explore the dynamics of natural selection in the wild and examine the evolution of an invader on contemporary time scales. In a field analysis of natural selection over three years, I found evidence of strong, but temporally variable selection pressures experienced by both species. Further experimentation showed that each species employs a different plasticity tactic (jack-of-all-trades vs. master-of-some) with respect to light acquisition traits.

As an EOL fellow, my intention is to focus on the urban flora of New York City. Urban plant communities provide several ecosystem services, including air and water filtration, temperature regulation, and so-called cultural benefits (those of an aesthetic or spiritual nature). The NYC government, in particular, has been actively supporting urban ecological initiatives such as establishing greenroofs on city buildings, giving tax credits for building greenroofs, starting the Million Trees NY program. I hope that city-dwellers will be able to use the EOL as a resource to explore their urban habitat.

My info

Full name
Kelly O'Donnell
I am
an enthusiast, an educator, a professional scientist
Curator level
Full Curator


2 objects curated
4 taxa curated
6 images set as exemplar
0 articles selected for Overview
1 preferred classification selected

0 common names added
0 common names removed
0 common names curated

1 taxon commented
0 comments submitted
1 article added
0 data records added
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Curator qualifications


EOL 2012 Rubenstein Fellow -- Ph.D. (2010) Ecology & Evolution, Stony Brook University, B.S. (2004) Biology, Cornell University

Curation scope
Urban Flora of NY