Stephen Vander Wall, Ph.D.

Steve Vander Wall

Contact Information


  • Ph.D., Biology, Utah State University, 1980
  • M.S., Zoology, Northern Arizona University, 1974
  • B.S., Biology, Northern Arizona University, 1971

Research Interests:

My graduate students and I study plant-animal interactions. We are currently conducting research on the dispersal of pine (Jeffrey, sugar, ponderosa, pinon, and others) and shrub (bitterbrush, chinquapin) seeds by rodents and jays in the Sierra Nevada of western Nevada. These animals, primarily yellow pine chipmunks, cache seeds in shallow, scattered sites in the soil. Seeds that are not retrieved by spring germinate, resulting in plant establishment. The relationships between these plants and animals are mutualistic; the rodents receive a nutritious food supply and the plants are disseminated throughout the region. These plant-animal interactions are excellent model systems for studying the process of plant dispersal by food-hoarding animals. We are also studying how rodents use spatial memory and olfaction to recover cached food.


  • Vander Wall, S. B. and Beck, M. J. 2012. Frugivory versus Food Hoarding Dispersal Syndromes. Botanical Review 78:10-31.
  • Enders, M. S. and S. B. Vander Wall. 2012. Black bears are effective dispersers of seeds, with a little help from their friends. Oikos 121:589-596.
  • Waitman, B. A., S. B. Vander Wall, and T. Esque. 2012. Seed dispersal and seed fate in Joshua tree (Yucca brevifolia). Journal of Arid Environments 81:1-8.
  • Vander Wall, S. B. 2010. How plants manipulate the scatter-hoarding behavior of seed-dispersing animals. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 365:989-997.
  • Beck, M. J., and S. B. Vander Wall. 2010. Seed dispersal by scatter-hoarding rodents in arid environments. Journal of Ecology 98:1300-1309.
  • Briggs, J. S., S. B. Vander Wall, and S. H. Jenkins. 2009. Forest rodents provide directed dispersal of Jeffrey pine seeds. Ecology 90:675-687.
  • Vander Wall, S. B., M. S. Enders and B. A. Waitman. 2009. Asymmetrical cache pilfering between yellow pine chipmunks and golden-mantled ground squirrels. Animal Behaviour 78:555-561
  • Vander Wall, S. B. 2008. On the relative contributions of wind versus animals to seed dispersal of four Sierra Nevada pines. Ecology 89:1837-1849.
  • Kuhn, K. M., and S. B. Vander Wall. 2008. Linking summer foraging to winter survival in yellow pine chipmunks (Tamias amoenus). Oecologia 157:349-360.
  • Vander Wall, S. B., J. S. Briggs, S. H. Jenkins, K. M. Kuhn, T. C. Thayer and M. J. Beck. 2006. Do food-hoarding animals have a recovery advantage? determining recovery of stored food. Animal Behaviour 72:189-197.