ESA announces Manuel Lerdau as the new editor-in-chief of Ecosphere

February 2, 2023
For immediate release

Contact: Heidi Swanson, 202-833-8773 ext. 211, gro.asenull@idieh  


Manuel Lerdau in central Virginia with one of his favorite invasive plants, kudzu (Pueraria montana). Kudzu, an aggressive and nitrogen-fixing legume, increases the rate of reactive nitrogen trace gas flux from soils and emits isoprene from its leaves, making it, in effect, an ozone factory. Photo by Sandy Hausman.

The Ecological Society of America has named Manuel Lerdau as the new editor-in-chief of its open-access journal Ecosphere. With over two decades of editorial experience, Lerdau will assume editorial leadership and oversight for the journal, which publishes research over a broad range of focal areas – ranging from agroecosystem ecology and disease ecology to eco-education, statistical theory and methodology. He replaces Debra P. C. Peters, who is stepping down after having served as founding editor since the journal was launched in 2010.

Lerdau is an ecologist who completed his Ph.D. at Stanford University, was a post-doc at NASA’s Ames Research Center and is now a professor at the University of Virginia, where he holds a joint appointment in the Department of Environmental Sciences and the Department of Biology.

“I am excited to help lead Ecosphere.  It is a young but already successful journal that has expanded the breadth of ESA’s coverage and given authors a venue for publishing some very exciting research that pushes the boundaries of ecology,” said Lerdau. “I’m looking forward to working with the editorial team to continue growing and improving the journal and to serving its readership within and beyond the Society.”

He has served in editorial roles for several ecology, biology and earth science journals, including Quarterly Review of Biology, Oecologia, Journal of Geophysical Research–Biogeosciences, Biology Letters and Northeastern Naturalist, and he was also the natural sciences editor for the University of Virginia Press.

Lerdau’s research explores a broad range of ecological relationships from the organismal to ecosystem levels, identifying the evolutionary origins of complex physiological traits and the ways these traits affect broader ecosystem processes. His studies also extend beyond the biosphere, linking ecology and evolution with the atmospheric sciences. Current research focuses on stress tolerance in plants and on the mechanisms of trace gas exchange between plants and the atmosphere.

Lerdau has conducted research on both coasts of the United States, in Indonesia and in several countries in Latin America. Early in his career, he was a National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow and a Kavli Institute Young Scholar. He also served as a Bullard Fellow and Hardy Visiting Professor at Harvard University, as a Visiting Scientist at CNR-Montelibretti and as a Senior International Scientist for the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Xishuangbanna, Yunnan. 

In addition to his research and editorial activities, he serves as a member of the UVA Global Infectious Disease Institute, as a mentor for the UVA Office of African-American Affairs’ GradSTAR Faculty Student Mentoring Program and on UVA’s Title IX Hearing Panel.

As Ecosphere’s new editor-in-chief, Lerdau looks forward to expanding the journal’s efforts to recruit a diverse pool of submitters, reviewers, editors and readers, and to augmenting its current array of subject-matter tracks with new areas of focus.

“The scientific publishing landscape is changing rapidly, and ESA is fortunate to have strong editors working to keep its portfolio of journals at the forefront,” said ESA President Sharon Collinge. “We are excited to have Dr. Lerdau provide direction for Ecosphere to continue thriving as a hub for rigorous, open-access ecological research.”

Lerdau will start his new position as editor-in-chief on Feb. 14, 2023.



The Ecological Society of America, founded in 1915, is the world’s largest community of professional ecologists and a trusted source of ecological knowledge, committed to advancing the understanding of life on Earth. The 9,000 member Society publishes five journals and a membership bulletin and broadly shares ecological information through policy, media outreach, and education initiatives. The Society’s Annual Meeting attracts 4,000 attendees and features the most recent advances in ecological science. Visit the ESA website at