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Stephen D. Davis Faculty Profile

Stephen D. Davis

Distinguished Professor of Biology
Natural Science Division, Seaver College
RAC 119


  • PhD, Biology, Texas A&M
  • MS, Biology, Abilene Christian University
  • BS, Biology, Abilene Christian University


  • Holmlund, H.I., R.B. Pratt, A.L. Jacobsen, S.D. Davis, and J. Pittermann. 2019. High-resolution computed tomography reveals dynamics of desiccation and rehydration in fern petioles of a desiccation-tolerant fern. New Phytologist DOI: 10.1111/nph.16067

  • Trueba, S., R. Pan, C. Scoffoni, G.P. John, S.D. Davis, L. Sack. 2019. Thresholds for leaf damage during dehydration: declines of hydraulic function, stomatal conductance, and cellular integrity precede those of photochemistry. New Phytologist DOI: 10.1111/nph.15779
  • *Aguirre, N.M., *G.N. Palmeri, *M.E. Ochoa, *H.I. Holmlund, *S.R. Reese, *E.R. Pierce, *K.E. Sauer, S.D. Davis, R. L. Honeycutt, C. L. Blomquist, and G. C. Adams. 2018. First Report of Stem Canker and Subsequent Plant Death Caused by Botryosphaeria dothidea on Malosma laurina in Southern California. Plant Disease 102 (7):1451
  • *Brett, B.A., E.G. Bobich, S.D. Davis, Y. Utsumi, F.W. Ewers. 2018. Dense but flexible wood - leaf nodes impact xylem mechanics in walnut. International Association of Wood Anatomists 39:372-381.
  • Davis, S.D., and G. Matusick. 2018. Freezing as an understudied driver of plant distribution within Mediterranean-type ecosystems. In: The Biology of Mediterranean-type Ecosystems. K.J. Esler, A.L. Jacobsen, R.B. Pratt (Eds.). Oxford University Press, Oxford, United Kingdom.
  • Jacobsen, A.L., R.B. Pratt, D. Alleman, and S.D. Davis. 2018. Post-fire ecophysiology of endemic chaparral shrub seedlings from Santa Catalina Island, southern California. Madrono. 65:106-116.
  • Lucas, T.A, *R.A. Dona, *W. Jiang, *G.C. Johns, *D.J. Mann, *C.N. Seubert, *N.B.C. Webster, *C.H. Willens, S.D. Davis. 2017. An Individual-Based Model of Chaparral Vegetation Response to Frequent Wildfires. Theoretical Ecology 10:217-233.
  • *Holmlund, H.I., *V.M. Lekson, *B.M. Gillespie, *N.A. Nakamatsu, *A.M. Burns, *K.E. Sauer, J. Pittermann, and S.D. Davis. 2016. Seasonal changes in tissue water relations for eight species of ferns during historic drought in California. American Journal Botany 103(9): 1607-1617.
  • Pausas, J., R.B. Pratt, J. Keeley, A. Jacobsen, A. Ramirez, A. Vilagrosa, S. Paula, *I. Kaneakua-Pia, S.D. Davis.2016. Towards understanding resprouting at the global scale. New Phytologist 209:945-954.
  • Venturas, M.D., E.D. MacKinnon, *H.L. Dario, A.L. Jacobsen, R.B. Pratt, and S.D. Davis. 2016. Chaparral Shrub Hydraulic Traits, Size, and Life History Types Relate to Species Mortality during California's Historic Drought of 2014. PloS one, 11(7), p.e0159145.
  • Sack, L. M.C. Ball, C. Brodersen, S.D. Davis, et al. 2016. Plant hydraulics as a central hub integrating plant and ecosystem function: meeting report for "emerging Frontiers in Plant Hydraulics" (Washington, DC, May 2015). Plant, Cell & Environment, PCE-15-0943.
  • Jacobsen, A.L., R.B. Pratt, S.D. Davis, and M.F. Tobin. 2014. Geographic and seasonal variation in chaparral vulnerability to cavitation. Madrono, 61(4): 317-327.
  • *Ishibashi, C.D., *A.R. Shaver, *D.P. Perrault, S.D. Davis, and R.L. Honeycutt. 2013. Isolation of microsatellite markers in a chaparral species endemic to southern California, Ceanothus megacarpus (Rhamnaceae). Applications in Plant Sciences 1(5):1200393.
  • Pratt, R.B., A.L. Jacobsen, *A.R. Ramirez, *Anjel M. Helms, *C.A. Traugh, M.F. Tobin, *M. Heffner, S.D. Davis. 2014. Mortality of resprouting chaparral shrubs after a fire and during a record drought: physiological mechanisms and demographic consequences. Global Change Biology, 20: 893-907.
  • Carr, K.S., S.D. Davis, S. Erbes, C.M. Fulmer, L.B. Kats, and M.U. Teetzel. 2013. Developing first-year students as scholars. Council of Undergraduate Research Quarterly, 33 (4) 8-15.
  • Paddock III, W.A.S., S.D. Davis, R.B. Pratt, A.L. Jacobsen, M.F. Tobin, Jorge Lopez-Portillo, and F.W. Ewers. 2013. Factors determining mortality of adult chaparral shrubs in an extreme drought year in California. Aliso 31:49-57.
  • Pratt, R.B., A.L. Jacobsen, *J. Hernandez, F.W. Ewers, G.B. North, and S.D. Davis. 2012. Allocation tradeoffs among chaparral shrub seedlings with different life history types (Rhamnaceae). American Journal Botany 24:70-81.
  • *Ramirez, A.R., B.R. Pratt, A.L. Jacobsen, and S.D. Davis. 2012. Exotic deer diminish post-fire resilience of native shrub communities on Santa Catalina Island, southern California. Plant Ecology 213:1037-1047.
  • Wiens, D., L. Allphin, M. Wall, M. R. Slaton, S. D. Davis. 2012. Population decline in Adenostoma sparsifiolium (Rosaceae): an ecogenetic hypothesis for background extinction. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. 105: 269-292.
  • Pratt, R.B., G.B. North, A.L. Jacobsen, F.W. Ewers, and S.D. Davis. 2010. Xylem root and shoot hydraulics is linked to life history type in chaparral seedlings (Rhamnaceae). Functional Ecology 24:70-81.
  • Pratt, R.B., A.L. *Jacobsen, K. *Golgotiu, J.S. Sperry, F.W. Ewers, S.D. Davis. 2007. Life history type and water stress tolerance in nine California chaparral species (Rhamnaceae). Ecological Monographs. 77:239-253.
  • Pratt, R.B., A.L. Jacobsen, R. *Mohla, F.W. Ewers, S.D. Davis. 2008. Linkage between water stress tolerance and life history type in seedlings of nine chaparral species (Rhamnaceae). Journal Ecology 96:1252-1265.
  • Davis, S.D., A. M. *Helms, M.S. *Heffner, A.R. *Shaver, A.C. *Deroulet, N.L. *Stasiak, S.M. *Vaughn, C.B. *Leake, H.D. *Lee and E.T. *Sayegh. 2007. Chaparral Zonation in the Santa Monica Mountains: The Influence of Freezing Temperatures. Fremontia. 35:12-15.
  • Pratt, R.B., A.L. *Jacobsen, F.W. Ewers, and S.D. Davis. 2007. Relationships among xylem transport, biomechanics and storage in stems and roots of nine Rhamnaceae species of the California chaparral. New Phytologist 74:787-798.
  • *Jacobsen, A.L., R. Brandon Pratt, F.W. Ewers, and S.D. Davis. 2007. Cavitation resistance among twenty-six chaparral species of southern California. Ecological Monographs. 77:99-115.
  • Koch, G.W., S.C. Sillett, G.M. Jennings and S.D. Davis 2004. The limits of tree height. Nature. 428:851-854.

(* denotes undergraduate students)

  • 2016-2019 National Science Foundation (IUSE: First-Year Students as Scholars)
  • 2011-15 William M. Keck Foundation (Developing the Undergraduate Student as Scholar)
  • 2018 Howard A. White Award for Teaching Excellence
  • 2008 Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching (Baylor University)
  • 2005-2009 National Science Foundation (REU-Site: Research Experience for Undergraduates)
  • 2002-05 National Science Foundation (RUI: Linking Xylem Functional Traits to Life-History Type)
  • Professor of the Year, Pepperdine University (2002)
  • Distinguished Professor (1997-2018)
  • Harriet and Charles Luckman Distinguished Teaching Fellow (1990-1995)
  • SIGMA XI- The Scientific Research Honor Society


  • Plant water relations in chaparral, coastal sage scrub, and ferns of California
  • Mechanical properties of plants in relation to cavitation resistance and hydraulic properties
  • Pathophysiology of fungal disease in native plants
  • Plant physiological ecology -- Investigating plant adaptations to wildfire, drought, and freezing.
  • Response of native vegetation to climate change and California's historic drought


  • Plant Physiological Ecology
  • Biology of Plants
  • Plant Ecology
  • Microbiology
  • Plants and the Environment (First-year Seminar)
  • Plant Adaptation to Stressful Environments (First-Year Seminar)
  • Microbes and Infectious Diseases (First-year Seminar)
  • Students as Scholars Program (NSF IUSE First-year Seminar)
  • SURB (Summer Undergraduate Research in Biology, NSF REU-Site Program)