I am a plant ecologist interested in the causes and consequences of phenotypic diversity across biological scales (from individuals to communities).

Julie MessierMy research interests sit at the intersection of the topics of plant strategies, physiology, scales, phenotypic integration and community ecology. At the interface of ecology and evolution, my work uses empirical data to advance our conceptual understanding of  variation and integration in plant traits.

I am currently a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Sherbrooke with Dr Mark Vellend and at the CEFE (CNRS) with Dr Cyrille Violle. My work with Dr. Vellend examines how functional diversity has changed in response to global change in temperate forests. My work with Dr.Violle explores the role of constraints in shaping the phenotype of crops.

Studying at the University of Arizona with Drs Brian Enquist, Brian McGill and Martin Lechowicz, I tested the limits of a trait-based approach to ecology, particularly as they pertain to phenotypic complexity and scaling. My dissertation (i) presented evidence that the Leaf Economic Spectrum, a well-known trait dimension, might not be present at local scales, (ii) tested the implicit assumption that trait dimensions are orthogonal among species at local scales, (iii) assessed the roles of constraints, phylogeny and environmental niches  in shaping functional trait integration within species, and (iv) tested a central promise of trait-based ecology: that traits are good predictors of plant performance. I answered these questions by measuring the functional traits, environment and performance response of individuals from 25 coexisting tree species in the forests of Mont-Saint-Hilaire (Québec, Ca). My PhD research was partly funded by fellowships from NSERC, the OAS, the Embassy of France in the U.S., the University of Arizona College of Science Galileo Circle, and McGill University’s Delta Upsilon Memorial fund.

See my Research page for more information on my ongoing and past research, or visit my LinkedIn profile, Google Scholar or Research Gate page.


I am French-Canadian and grew up in the Québec province of Canada. In 2006 I completed my Bachelor’s degree in Biology at the Université du Québec à Montréal in a problem-based learning program. During those years, I was introduced to Ecological research by working in the lab of Prof. Daniel Kneeshaw, where I had the opportunity to conduct and publish a study on gap dynamics.

In 2009, I graduated my Masters in Biology at McGill University in Montreal with Drs Brian McGill and Martin Lechowicz. For my Master’s dissertation, I studied how leaf functional trait vary across biological scales in the tropical rainforests of Panama. In 2015 I completed my doctoral work in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology department of the University of Arizona in Tucson.