Carol Horvitz Nutt


(305) 284-5364
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Horvitz's background is in plant populations dynamics, particularly stochastic demography where environmental dynamics are modeled by Markov chains. Currently she is on the governing board of the Evolutionary Demography Society and the Nominating Committee of the Organization for Tropical Studies. In the past, she served as the Treasurer of the American Society of Naturalists and on the governing board of the Organization for Tropical Studies. She has been invited to many working groups (ecology: National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis) and workshops (biodemography: Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock). At the University of Miami, she was a founding member of Institute for Theoretical and Mathematical Ecology and was previously the Director of the Gifford Arboretum. The author of roughly 62 peer reviewed articles and 11 book chapters, her research has been funded by National Science Foundation, National Institute on Aging (NIH), US Fish and Wildlife Services and the Invasive Plant Lab in Davie (USDA). Her research and teaching interests are focused at the interface of mathematical modeling and empirical field biology. In particular her research utilizes matrix and integral-projection models of population dynamics parameterized with field-collected data on demographic rates (birth, growth, movement and death) in the context of temporal variation, with important implications for evolutionary ecology of plant-animal interactions, invasion biology, tropical biology, the biology of aging and life history evolution.

Research Interests

We study ecology from a population dynamic perspective with a focus on stochastic processes. Our research is characterized by the combination of field intensive studies with mathematical modeling, focused particularly on demography of structured populations in variable environments.

This conceptual arena includes the development and application of new parameters (e.g. environment-specific elasticity) and encompasses an array of topics from biology of aging and evolution of life span to spatial population dynamics of both native and exotic species, and has exciting applications to plant-animal interactions, forest dynamics, as well as disturbance, global change and invasion biology.

We are interested in currencies of population dynamics that link ecology to evolution: the stochastic growth rate measures fitness in variable environments and selection must act through it. We are interested in applied aspects as well: what is the impact of biocontrol agents on the population dynamics of invasive species?

The interactive process between theory and data is very rewarding and fascinating.  Dr. Horvitz is a founding member of UM's Institute for Theoretical and Mathematical Ecology. 

Every lifetime is a realization of a probabilistic or stochastic process. It is imperative to learn to think stochastically to understand ecology in nature. Organisms ultimately experience time and space on scales much larger than I can measure. Modeling is essential.

We explore the universe empirically and through modeling, putting field data into the context of larger extents of time and space than we could ever physically observe. Working closely with theoreticians (Caswell, Tuljapurkar), we are partners in the development of new analytical tools. In application of theory to data, new theoretical issues arises, as do new empirical issues. There is feedback in both directions and science makes a little step forward.

Teaching Interests

Tropical Trees: Identification and Evolutionary Relationships
Failure Time Analysis
Population and Community Theory


Ph.D. Biology Northwestern University
B.A. Environmental Studies Antioch College

Professional Experience

1999 - 2019Full Professor , University of Miami, Biology Department
1991 - 1999Associate Professor, University of Miami, Biology Department
1986 - 1991Assistant Professor, University of Miami, Biology Department
1982 - 1985Research Associate, The University of Chicago, Barnes Laboratory, Biology Department
1980 - 1982Searle Postdoctoral Fellow, Loyola University of Chicago, Biology Department

Honors & Acknowledgements

2017. Society of Woman Geographer's Outstanding Achievement Award.
This award is in recognition of an outstanding contribution or service of lasting benefit to Science, the Arts, or Humanity.
2007-2010. Cooper Fellow in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Miami.
1999-2000. Pole de Recherches et Innovations de Angers (PRIA).
10th Invited Professor Chair. Institut National d’Horticulture. Angers, France.
1999. Jean Andrews Visiting Professor of Botany, University of Texas, Austin, Texas.

LIST OF SPECIALTIES: Conservation and Restoration Biology | Evolutionary Biology | Mathematical and Theoretical Biology | Tropical Biology


Gaoue, Orou., Carol Horvitz, Ulrich Steiner, Shripad Tuljapurkar. "Climate, rather than harvest, is the main driver of age-specific mortality trajectories in a tropical tree." Ecological Modelling 34-40 (2019). [Link]

Rypkema, Diana C., Carol C. Horvitz, Shripad Tuljapurkar "How climate affects extreme events and hence ecological population models" Ecology (2019). [Link]

Bernstein, Shayna, David Rehkopf, Shripad Tuljapurkar, and Carol C. Horvitz "Poverty dynamics, poverty thresholds and mortality: an age-stage Markovian model." PLOS ONE (2018). [Link]

Erickson, K., Pratt, P., Rayamajhi, M., & Horvitz, C. 2017 "Introduction History Influences Aboveground Biomass Allocation in Brazilian Peppertree (Schinus terebinthifolius)." Invasive Plant Science and Management 247-253 (2017).

Garcia-Robledo, C., Horvitz, C. C., Kress, W. J., Carvajal-Acosta, A. N., Erwin, T. L. and Staines, C. L. "Experimental assemblage of novel plant–herbivore interactions: ecological host shifts after 40 million years of isolation. " Biotropica 803-810 (2017).

Matlaga, David P; Snyder, Rachel K; Horvitz, Carol C. "Dispersal of Goeppertia marantifolia clonal offspring increases with greater canopy openness and larger plant size. " Journal of Tropical Ecology 107-113 (2017).