Have You Met Rutgers-Newark?

Uncovering the secrets of plant and animal communities

As a community ecologist, Claus Holzapfel’s research is focused on the ecology and evolution of plant and animal communities as he studies the relationships among organisms to understand how and why they interact in certain ways. Holzapfel’s research often takes him out of the lab and into diverse environments such as urban ivy thickets, dense rainforests, and cactus patches.

Holzapfel has been teaching at Rutgers University–Newark as an associate professor since 2004. Whether teaching his students in a lab or in a greenhouse, he seeks to foster an appreciation for the diversity in nature, ranging from diversity of species to the diversity of adaptations and species interactions. Beyond his classroom, he shares his knowledge and love of ecology with the larger Rutgers population and Newark community, leading bird walks, facilitating “Bioblitz,” (an annual census of on-campus plants and animals), and supervising nature projects every Earth Day.

Holzapfel earned his Ph.D. at the University of Göttingen in Germany. He has written extensively on the subjects on invasive species, ecological disturbances, and the resilience of species.

Recently, he has begun researching unnatural ecological occurrences due to human impact in a field of study called fusion ecology which explores the phenomenon of novel communities that are ensembles of native and exotic species.

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