Navigate / search

Welcome to the Princeton Ecohydrology Lab Website!

We've recently moved into a new site, so please let us know if you have any comments or - more likely - find any missing or dead links.

  • Dryland Ecohydrology

    Life in dryland savanna ecosystems is reliant on the spatial and temporal distribution of rainfall. In order to understand the impacts of changes in rainfall on woody vegetation patterns, our group has developed a set of modeling approaches that combine existing stochastic soil water balance models with a resource trade-off hypothesis pertaining to the organization of dryland vegetation communities. This framework has provided a mathematically tractable optimization problem which we have applied to southern African savannas, the Rio Salado basin in the US southwest, and a central Kenyan ecosystem.

  • Isotope Hydrology

    Understanding the coupled interactions between hydrology and ecology requires new measurements of environmental process at the landscape level. To this end we are beginning to use stable isotopes of hydrogen and oxygen as a tool for partitioning land surface water vapor fluxes into evaporation and transpiration components. We have recently constructed a new eddy flux tower in Likipia, Kenya which will be outfitted with a laser-based isotope analyzer from Los Gatos Research. This instrument allows continuous δ18O and δ2H measurements (1 Hz) in water vapor. It has great potential to answer both theoretical (e.g., kinetic fractionations in soil evaporation) and practical questions (e.g., the effect of vegetation structure on evaporation/transpiration partition).

Princeton Studies Food new class launched

A new class on science, society and food was launched this semester. The class, officially titled “Science, Society & Dinner”, is taught by Kelly Caylor, in collaboration with Chef Craig Shelton, and with assistance from Rozalie Czesana ’18 and Chef Michelle Fuerst.

A few pictures of the first class are available below. In that class, students learned about challenges of food security, production consumption and waste in the US, China, India and Brazil. They also practiced knife skills and tasted fresh-baked baguettes with Beurre d’Isigny from Bon Appetit and sampled five varieties of salt from the Savory Spice Shop in Princeton. They also sampled a non-alcoholic wine before and after lemon, sugar, black pepper and bleu cheese to note effects on perceived flavor.

A takeaway: Understand ingredients to use them well and wisely – reducing waste in the process.

In a good community connection, this new freshman seminar is being taught at the John Witherspoon Middle School Teaching Kitchens.

EcoHydrology Lab at AGU 2015



The Caylor Lab will once again be taking over the AGU Fall Meeting in a couple of weeks. Check out the list of all of our presentations!


Current Members


Elliot ChangKelly Caylor, Cynthia Gerlein-Safdi, and Adam WolfPP11B-2246 – Solid Phase Extraction Using C-18 Sorbents to Treat Organics in Water and Eliminate Spectral Interference in Isotope Ratio Infrared Spectroscopy, Poster, Monday, 14 December 2015, 08:00 AM – 12:20 PM, Moscone South, Poster Hall
Keita DeCarlo and Kelly Caylor, H12B-06 – Faunal Influences on Fracture-Induced Carbon Flux Dynamics in Dryland Soils, Oral Presentation, Monday, 14 December 2015, 11:35 AM – 11:50 AM, Moscone West, 3024
Drew GowerKelly Caylor, Paul McCord, and Tom Evans, H13G-1615 – Modeling the impacts of regulatory frameworks on self-organization in dryland agricultural systems, Poster, Monday, 14 December 2015, 01:40 PM – 06:00 PM, Moscone South, Poster Hall
Stephanie DebatsLyndon Estes, and Kelly CaylorGC13H-1253 – Interactively Improving Agricultural Field Mapping in Sub-Saharan Africa with Crowd-Sourcing and Active Learning, Poster, Monday, 14 December 2015, 01:40 PM – 06:00 PM, Moscone South, Poster Hall
Marcus SpiegelLyndon EstesKelly Caylor, and Timothy Searchinger, GC13H-1252 – Reconciling Agricultural Needs with Biodiversity and Carbon Conservation in a Savanna Transformation Frontier, Poster, Monday, 14 December 2015, 01:40 PM – 06:00 PM, Moscone South, Poster Hall
Natasha KrellKeita DeCarlo, and Kelly Caylor, NG23B-1782 – Analysis of Biophysical Mechanisms of Gilgai Microrelief Formation in Dryland Swelling Soils Using Ultra-High Resolution Aerial Imagery, Poster, Tuesday, 15 December 2015, 01:40 PM – 6:00 PM, Moscone South, Poster Hall
Cynthia Gerlein-Safdi, Craig Sinkler, and Kelly Caylor, A33H-0273 – Foliar Shielding: How Non-Meteoric Water Deposition Helps Leaves Survive Drought by Reducing Incoming Energy, Poster, Wednesday, December 16, 2014, 01:40 PM – 06:00 PM, Moscone South, Poster Hall
Lyndon Estes, Di Tian, Tom Evans, Kelly Caylor, Justin Sheffield, and Eric Wood, GC51J-08 – Impacts of intra-seasonal agricultural decision-making and forecast information on maize production in Zambia, Oral Presentation, Friday, 18 December 2015, 09:45 AM – 10:00 AM, Moscone West, 3003
Kelly CaylorHilary Wayland, and Todd Scanlon, H54B-03 – A dynamic, non-steady state approach for partitioning of soil evaporation and plant water use at landscape scales, Oral Presentation, Friday, 18 December 2015, 04:30 PM – 04:45 PM, Moscone West, 3014
Guiomar Ruiz PérezH54E-03 – On the use of satellite data to implement a parsimonious ecohydrological model in the upper Ewaso Ngiro river basin, Oral presentation, Friday, 18 December 2015, 04:30 PM – 04:45 PM, Moscone West, 3011


Alumni and Collaborators


Salvatore Manfreda, Douglas Baldwin, Klaus Keller, Erica Smithwick, and Kelly CaylorH12B-04 – Predicting root zone soil moisture with satellite near-surface moisture data in semiarid environments, Oral Presentation, Monday, 14 December 2015, 11:05 AM – 11:20 AM, Moscone West, 3024

Stephen GoodLixin Wang, and Kelly Caylor, H12B-05 – Global optimum vegetation rain water use is determined by aridity, Oral Presentation, Monday, 14 December 2015, 11:20 AM – 11:35 AM, Moscone West, 3024

Tom Evans, Kelly CaylorLyndon Estes, Paul McCord, Shahzeen Attari, and Justin Sheffield, GC12A-07 – Modeling Local vs. Global Dimensions of Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa, Oral Presentation, Monday, 14 December 2015, 11:57 AM – 12:12 PM, Moscone West, 3003

Lixin Wang, Stefano Manzoni, Sujith Ravi, Diego Riveros-Iregui, and Kelly Caylor, H13B-1497 – Dynamic interactions of ecohydrological and biogeochemical processes in water-stressed environments, Poster, Monday, 14 December 2015, 01:40 PM – 06:00 PM, Moscone South, Poster Hall

Andreas Colliander, Thomas Jackson, Steven Chan, Narendra Das, Seungbum Kim, R. Scott Dunbar, Rajat Bindlish, Lan Dang, Aaron Berg, Tracy Rowlandson, Kelly Caylor, Michael Cosh, Hala AlJassar, Ernesto Lopez-baeza, Jose Martínez-Fernández, Angel Gonzales-Zamora, Heather McNairn, Anna Pacheco, Mahta Moghaddam, Carsten Montzka, Claudia Notarnicola, Georg Niedrist, Thierry Pellarin, Jouni Pulliainen, Kimmo Rautiainen, Judith Ramos, Mark Seyfried, Zhongbo Su, Yijian Zeng, Rogier Van der Velde, Marouane Temimi, Marc Thibeault, Wouter Dorigo, Mariette Vreugdenhil, Jeffrey Walker, Xiaoling Wu, Todd Caldwell, Michael Spencer, Peggy O’Neill, Dara Entekhabi, Simon Yueh, and Eni Njoku, H43H-1626 – SMAP L2/L3 Soil Moisture Product Validation using In Situ Based Core Validation Sites, Poster, Thursday, 17 December 2015, 01:40 PM – 06:00 PM, Moscone South, Poster Hall

Justin Sheffield, Xiaogang He, Niko Wanders, Eric Wood, Abdou Ali, Luke Olang, Lyndon EstesKelly Caylor, and Tom Evans, GC43E-05 – Translating the potential of hydrological forecasts into improved decision making in African regions, Oral Presentation, Thursday, 17 December 2015, 02:40 PM – 02:55 PM, Moscone West, 3003

Tom Evans, Shahzeen Attari, Beth Plale, Kelly CaylorLyndon Estes, and Justin Sheffield, GC51J-07 – New Approaches to Capture High Frequency Agricultural Dynamics in Africa through Mobile Phones, Oral Presentation, Friday, 18 December 2015, 09:30 AM – 09:45 AM, Moscone West, 3003

Summer at Mpala: water use and agriculture

This summer Drew Gower traveled to Kenya for a three-week mission wrapping up one project and launching another. From 2012 to 2014, researchers from the Caylor Lab and the Ostrom Workshop at Indiana University collected water use and agricultural production data in 25 community water projects (CWP) across the Laikipia region as part of a Coupled Natural and Human Systems Grant from NSF. The researchers then used this data to create individualized reports describing current practices in each project and comparisons with those of their neighbors. During the first week of his trip, Drew met with the management committees of ten CWP clustered around the Ngare Nything and Timau rivers to deliver the last of these reports and to discuss their content with interested members. 

After successfully closing out the project described above, members of the Ecohydrology Lab look forward to continuing its work in Laikipia through a new project funded by a Water Sustainability and Climate grant from the NSF. This project will use environmental data collected through a field-based sensor network, along with the results of farmer surveys, to better understand how smallholders respond to climate shocks and to predict when crop failures may be imminent. Drew spent the last two weeks of his trip working with the lab staff to assemble, program and deploy these sensors at sites around the Nanyuki and Likii Rivers. Since Drew’s departure, the lab staff has deployed additional sensors at sites near the Ngusishi River as well.

Report delivery with the management committee of the Mugo Kongo CWP
Report delivery with the management committee of the Mugo Kongo CWP
Drew and Boniface after finishing installation of a PulsePod sensor
Drew and Boniface after finishing installation of a PulsePod sensor

Teaching the TBI Field School students

TBI Origins Field School students and the members of the EcoHydrology Lab take a group photo under the tower
TBI Origins Field School students and the members of the EcoHydrology Lab take a group photo under the tower

Students from the Turkana Basin Institute Field School recently spent some time at Mpala, learning about the field ecology of African savanna. John Gitonga, helped by other members of the EcoHydrology Lab at Mpala, gave the students a short course on dryland hydrology. The group also went to visit our flux tower and got a full tour of the different instruments.

Learn more and see some pictures in this post.