Dr. Ross McCauley

Dr. Ross McCauley
Professor of Biology


  • Plant systematics and taxonomy
  • Phylogeography
  • Evolutionary/Molecular Ecology
  • Endangered species conservation
  • Herbarium management and curation


  • Ph.D., Botany, Ohio University, 2002
  • Master of Science, Botany, Ohio University, 1999
  • Bachelor of Science, Biology and Biophysical Environmental Studies, Northland College, 1995


Phone Icon 970-247-7338
Email Icon Email

Media Contact

Our faculty are available to comment on topics related to areas of interest or expertise. If you need further assistance, call Media Relations at 970-247-6073 or email Media Relations.

About Dr. Ross McCauley

Dr. McCauley joined the college in 2008. He is a botanist with a particular specialty in plant systematics and taxonomy. His research interests focus on understanding the ecological and organismal factors that contribute to the creation and maintenance of plant biodiversity. Dr. McCauley’s current research is focused on understanding phylogeographic patterns in trees in the southwestern U.S. and Mexico, the origin and evolution of the endemic Amaranthaceae of the Hawaiian Islands, the evolution of plant biodiversity through reciprocal hybridization in Mexican Quercus, and ecotypic differentiation controlled by elevational gradients in Viola in the southern Rockies. Dr. McCauley is the curator of the Fort Lewis College Herbarium, a scientific reference collection that documents the flora of the San Juan Mountains (and the largest herbarium collection on the western slope of Colorado). He is involved with the New Mexico Native Plant Society and the San Juan Four Corners Native Plant Society. Prior to joining Fort Lewis, Dr. McCauley was a postdoctoral researcher at the Laboratory of Ecological Genetics at the Center for Ecosystem Studies of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, where he studied oak trees and oak biodiversity.

Dr. McCauley is a member of several professional associations, including the American Society of Plant Taxonomists, the Botanical Society of America, the Society of Herbarium Curators and the Society for the Study of Evolution. He is a manuscript reviewer for numerous journals, including American Journal of Botany, Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden, Australian Systematic Botany, International Journal of Plant Sciences, and Molecular Ecology

Fulbright Scholar Grant Award

Dr. McCauley was recently awarded a 2016 Fulbright Scholar Grant to perform research next year in Ecuador, focusing on plant evolution and conservation in the Galapagos Islands. 

News briefs


The National Park Service has turned to Associate Professor of Biology Ross McCauley and his students to see what might be the best way to give a rare plant the best chance to survive and thrive in Mesa Verde National Park. [8/29/18]

Ross McCauley, associate professor of Biology, and his students were cited in a Boulder Daily Camera article about research they have done on how elevation, environment, and climate change play a role in the flowering of Colorado plants. [7/4/18]

A number of Dr. McCauley's students have received the Young Botanist Award from the Botanical Society of America, including: 

  • Hailee McOmber (2019)
  • Emily Swindell (2019)
  • Margo Paces (2016)
  • Drew Walter (2014)

Fort Lewis College Boasts Largest Herbarium in Western Colorado, Curated by Ross McCauley

Throughout his time at Fort Lewis, Biology associate professor Ross McCauley has helped develop the FLC Herbarium into an impressive collection of more than 15,000 plant and fungal specimens, with a particularly  rich representation of  the high elevation areas of the San Juan Mountains. Dr. McCauley has also instituted a computer database system for archiving herbarium data and making it searchable via the Southwest Environmental Information Network.

About the Herbarium

The FLC Herbarium is a regional resource for vascular plants and fungi of southwestern Colorado and the Four Corners region. Dr. McCauley is digitizing and imaging the entire collection. The fungal collection digitization has been completed under a cooperative agreement in conjunction with  the Denver Botanic Gardens and the New York Botanical Gardens. 

Dr. McCauley Explains the Project

“Our work in the Herbarium is exciting because Fort Lewis is quickly becoming a regional hub for specimen digitization and our collection, although small, is now accessible to researchers interested in botany and ecology in the South Rockies.” 

Selected Publications and Presentations

“Phylogeography and historical gene flow patterns in disjunct Quercus across the Sierra Madre Occidental and southern Cordillera of Mexico (Quercus section Lobatae subsection Racemiflora),” Journal of Biogeography, Forthcoming

“Fine scale within-canopy genetic structure of the epiphytic orchid Laelia speciosa,” International Journal of Plant Sciences, Forthcoming 
“A preliminary analysis of phylogeography and species diversification of Ostrya (Betulaceae) in the southwestern US and Mexico,” Botany 2015, Edmonton, Alberta, 2015 *

“The role of small herbaria in contributing to the understanding of biodiversity patterns. Botany 2015, Edmonton, Alberta, 2015

“Paraphyly, hybridization, and multiple introductions in the origin and evolution of the endemic Amaranthaceae of the Hawaiian Islands (genera Achyranthes, Charpentiera and Nototrichium),” Botany 2014, Boise, Idaho, 2014

Viola calcicola (Violaceae), a new endemic violet from the Guadalupe Mountains of New Mexico and Texas,“ Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas, 2013 

“Doble fecundaci√≥n,” and “Apomixis” in Biolog√≠a de angiospermas. UNAM, Facultad de Ciencias. 2013 

“Influence of relictual species on the morphology of a hybridizing oak complex: an analysis of the Quercus x undulata complex in the Four Corners Region,” Western North American Naturalist, 2012 *

“Distribution, genetic structure, and conservation status of the rare microendemic species, Guaiacum unijugum (Zygophyllaceae) in the Cape Region of Baja California, Mexico,” Revista Mexicana de Biodiversidad, 2010

* indicates coauthored or copresented with FLC students