‌Carol Horvitz


190 Cox Science Center
1301 Memorial Drive, Coral Gables, FL 33124
E-mail: carolhorvitz@miami.edu
Office: (305) 284-5364
Fax: (305) 284-3039

Lab website

Biological Invasions Researcher Database


  • 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.



  • Pole de Recherches et Innovations de Angers (PRIA). 10th Invited Professor Chair. Institut National d’Horticulture. Angers, France. August, 1999 – February, 2000
  • Jean Andrews Visiting Professor of Botany, University of Texas, Austin, Texas. February, 1999.
  • Ph.D. (Biology), June 1980, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois
  • B.A. (Environmental Studies), 1972, Antioch College, Yellow Springs, Ohio


  • 2006 NSF OPUS: Plant-animal interactions and stochastic population dynamics of understory plants in tropical forests. 24 mos. 9/01/06-8/31/08. Sole PI.
  • 2005 Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Lifelong learning project needs created by the 2005 hurricane season at the Gifford Arboretum. 14 mos. 4/01/06-5/31/07. Sole P.I.
  • 2005 Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Conservation needs created by the 2005 Hurricane Season at the Gifford Arboretum.12 mos. 2/15/06-2/14/07. Sole P.I.
  • 2005 NSF. USDA-NSF Interagency PI Meeting (October 17&18, 2005). Role of Applied and Basic Research in the Management of Biological Invasions. 12 months. 8/15/05 – 8/14/06. see Biologal Invasions Researcher Database
  • 2004 USDA Agricultural Research Service. Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants. The impact of weevils and psyllids on seedling fates and population dynamics of Melaleuca in different habitats: combining experimental data with population projection matrix models. 8/15/04-8/14/07
  • National Science Foundation. Conference on Invasive Plants in Natural and Managed Ecosystems and 7th International Conference on Ecology and Management of Alien Plant Invasions. I am the P.I. of this grant, with a co-P.I. at ESA, Clifford Duke. 9/1/2003-8/31/2005.
  • National Institute on Aging. NIH. The biodemography of life span (with P.I., Program Director James Carey). Project #5. Evolutionary dynamics of life span. as co-P.I. to Shripad Tuljapurkar. 9/15/2003-9/14/2008.


  • Conservation and Restoration Biology
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Mathematical and Theoretical Biology
  • Tropical Biology



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.


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


  • Westerband, A. C., & Horvitz, C. C. 2015. Interactions between plant size and canopy openness influence vital rates and life-history tradeoffs in two neotropical understory herbs. American Journal of Botany, 102(8), 1290-1299.

  • Horvitz, C. C., Koop, A. L., & Erickson, K. D. 2015. Time-invariant and stochastic disperser-structured matrix models: invasion rates of fleshy-fruited exotic shrubs. Discrete & Contnuous Dynamical Systems - Series B , 20(6), 1639-1662.

  • McElderry, R. M., Salvato, M. H., & Horvitz, C. C. (2015). Population viability models for an endangered endemic subtropical butterfly: effects of density and fire on population dynamics and risk of extinction. Biodiversity and Conservation, 1-20.

  • Kalisz, S.,  R. B. Spigler, and C. C. Horvitz. 2014. In a long-term experimental demography study, excluding ungulates reversed invader's explosive population growth rate and restored natives. PNAS 111:4501-4506.

  • Steiner, U.K., S. Tuljapurkar, T. Coulson and C. Horvitz. 2012. Trading stages: Life expectancies in structured populations. Experimental Gerontology. 47: 773-781 doi:10.1016/j.exger.2012.05.015.