Cassie Freund

Ecology

Wake Forest University

I am a tropical forest ecologist and PhD student at Wake Forest University. I currently study the disturbance ecology of tropical montane forests, which means I spend a lot of time scrambling up landslides in the Peruvian Andes! My work is important for understanding the structure, composition, and functioning of these dynamic forest ecosystems.

Cassie has authored 13 articles

How shadowy tax havens skirt conservation efforts

Read now →

Dark money foreign investments may bankroll deforestation and overfishing

"Poached" takes you into the trenches of wildlife crime

Read now →

Rachel Love Nuwer explains how and why illegal trade threatens to wipe some of our planet's most charismatic animals off the map forever

Why fieldwork is still crucial for science research

Read now →

There are some things it's impossible to discern without ground truthing

How one invasive plant can change a rainforest

Read now →

The mountain apple's entry into Indonesia a century ago still threatens biodiversity there

'Being Ecological' is a book with admirable aims and a tangled execution

Read now →

Prioritizing data over action can be counterproductive – but so is a muddled message

What Pokémon GO can teach conservationists about public engagement

Read now →

In six days, players collected as much data as naturalists had in 400 years

Four facts about Marie Tharp, the woman whose art mapped the bottom of the sea

Read now →

She discovered the Earth's 'backbone' even though men wouldn't let her on a ship for 17 years

Animals feel a 'landscape of fear' – just like humans

Read now →

Afraid of lions by moonlight and raptors by day, animals will behave in dramatic ways

What modern conservationists can learn from humanity's long history with rainforests

Read now →

There's a growing body of evidence that humans have been modifying tropical forests for over 40,000 years

Cassie has left Comment 12 peer comments

Climate change once heated the oceans and caused "The Great Dying"

Read now →

This time the planet is warming much, much faster

Comment 2 peer comments

Climate is getting more extreme in every possible way

Read now →

From precipitation to the carbon cycle to natural disasters, the outliers are now the norm.

Comment 2 peer comments

Should peer review stop being anonymous?

Read now →

Prominent researchers can take the gamble, but junior scientists risk retribution

Comment 4 peer comments

Floating detritus is giving new insights into deep-sea corals

Read now →

Environmental DNA is a less invasive way to solve long-submerged mysteries

Comment 4 peer comments

Can corals be saved? The key may be in their microbes

Read now →

Biologists are studying corals with techniques designed for humans

Comment 3 peer comments

Science doesn't need to be so complicated. The answer: more sensible statistics

Read now →

Let the battle between human psychology and science have statisticians' supervision

Comment 2 peer comments

What does California's future look like? Scientists asked trees

Read now →

Blue oaks have up to 500 years of climate history written in their rings

Comment 1 peer comment

What the Ice Age tells us about how plants will manage in a hotter world

Read now →

New research seems to resolve a puzzle of why plants struggled in the past

Comment 1 peer comment

Is light pollution changing how plants do – and don't – grow?

Read now →

Plants depend on cycles of light. Now, they're always on

Comment 2 peer comments

Toxic chemicals are being freed from melting glaciers

Read now →

Scientists are finding decades-old DDT and PCB flowing from the Tibetan Plateau

Comment 3 peer comments

Beetles exploit bacteria labor to grow their exoskeletons

Read now →

New research has revealed a "symbiotic organ" in weevils, showing how tiny organisms shape larger life

Comment 3 peer comments

When you smell the roses, do they smell you back?

Read now →

Scientists have found that plants like Canada goldenrod deploy defenses against insects on scent

Comment 2 peer comments
Cassie has shared 1 note

Biodiversity hotspots and favorite papers

I've been thinking about a question for my fellow scientists lately:  What's one paper that you always use to contextualize your work, that you wish you could share with everyone because you just think it's SO DARN COOL?

Cassie Freund looks out over a tropical Andean forest landscape

Me and my Peruvian plants

Cassie Freund

Mine is "Biodiversity hotspots for conservation priorities." I love this paper because the authors came up with the 25  places on earth with the highest concentrations of plant and animal species. They argue that in an era of very limited funding for  protecting nature, focusing mainly on these regions will return the most bang for our conservation buck. And this paper is super relevant to my work because I study forests in the Tropical Andes, home to 45,000 plant  species. Nearly half of these (~20,000) can only be found in this hotspot.

There are hotspots for animal enthusiasts, too! The island of Madagascar - home to multiple lemur species, the fossa, and the so-ugly-it's-almost-cute aye-aye - is a prime example. There are now 36 hotspots, with eleven new ones added in the past two decades. Scientists, nature lovers, world travelers: is your favorite place on the list? Shout out at me about your favorite papers and hotspots on Twitter and I'll share your replies!

Map of biodiversity hotspots around the world

Map of the now-35 biodiversity hotspots worldwide. Is your favorite place on the list?

Conservation International on Wikimedia Commons