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Dr. Paul A. Keddy

Photo: Marvin Moore 1998

Dr. Paul Keddy has been a professor of ecology for 30 years, and has published over 100 scholarly papers and seven books. He has been designated a Highly Cited Researcher (, and in 2007 was awarded two scholarly awards, the Merit Prize by the Society of Wetland Scientists, and the National Wetlands Award for Science Research by the Environmental Law Institute. Although he has worked on many types of plant communities and a broad array of ecological questions, the focus of his work has been upon the principles that organize plant communities, with particular emphasis upon wetlands.

Dr. Keddy comes from two generations of Nova Scotians who traveled to Europe to kill Germans, and then returned to Canada with British brides. He broke this sequence by traveling instead to Nova Scotia to complete a Ph.D. with the mathematical ecologist E.C. Pielou, and by marrying a botany student from Ontario. During this period he also helped found the Halifax Field Naturalists. He then moved to Ontario to teach, first at the University of Guelph, and then at the University of Ottawa. In addition to his teaching and research, he hiked and canoed through many parts of Ontario, and spent (too) much of his salary buying abandoned farm land on the Canadian shield in the Ottawa Valley. Here he built a home, and he and Cathy raised two sons.

In the early 1990s Dr. Keddy became seriously ill and spent several years on retreat, occasionally teaching at the University of Ottawa. During this period, based upon his practice of Buddhist meditation, he wrote If I Should Die Before You Wake: Instructions on the Art of Life for his (then) infant sons. It was adapted for the general public in 1997 at the request of Creative Bound in Carp, Ontario. He also prepared self-published guides to the natural history of Lanark County and the state of Louisiana.

Dr. Keddy moved from Canada to Louisiana in 1999 to become the first holder of the Schlieder Endowed Chair for Environmental Studies. This chair provided resources that allowed him to continue research and teaching in spite of chronic illness. Louisiana is heaven on earth for biologists, with a subtropical climate, extensive cypress swamps, a rich amphibian and reptile fauna, and threatened pitcher plant savannas amidst longleaf pine forests. Here he worked on both the theory and practice of coastal restoration in Louisiana, as well as supervising research on species-rich pine savannas inland. He survived hurricanes Katrina and Rita, but roused the ire of the good ol’ boys by driving a Prius, speaking out on environmental issues, writing books, and suggesting that promotions should be based upon achievement rather than cronyism.

Keddy's first scientific book, Competition, was published by Chapman and Hall in 1989, while he was a professor at the University of Ottawa. That book won the Lawson Medal (awarded by the Canadian Botanical Association) and the Gleason Prize (from the New York Botanical Garden). A later book, Wetland Ecology: Principles and Conservation (Cambridge University Press, 2000) received the Merit Prize from the Society of Wetland Scientists. With Dr. Evan Weiher he co-edited Ecological Assembly Rules: Perspectives, Advances, Retreats (Cambridge University Press, 1999). With Dr. Lauchlan Fraser he co-edited The World’s Largest Wetlands: Ecology and Conservation (Cambridge University Press, 2005). He also has written a large and frequently overlooked second edition of Competition (Kluwer, 2001), “the book with the fighting zebras on the cover.”

Keddy’s latest book, a full decade in preparation, is an introduction to plant ecology from a global perspective. Titled, Plants and Vegetation: Origins, Processes, Consequences (Cambridge University Press, 2007), it aims to combine the richness of plant natural history with the elegance of simple concepts and models. It is intended as a text for introductory plant ecology courses, as well as general reading for those seeking to deepen their appreciation and understanding of plant communities. Keddy’s guide to the natural history of Louisiana is now available as a print-on-demand book from Xlibris. This book was written to encourage ecotourism, as well as to provide an inviting introduction to the state for students and citizens.

Dr. Keddy is currently again on retreat, but is available for occasional lectures and projects, as well as for correspondence, at

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Ecological Assembly Rules: Perspectives, Advances, Retreats. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 1999.
If I Should Die Before You Wake: Instructions on the Art of Life. Creative Bound, Carp, Ontario, 1997.
Competition. Chapman and Hall, London, UK, 1982.
Wetland Ecology: Principles and Conservation. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 2000.
Plants and Vegetation: Origins, Processes, Consequences. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 2007.
Water, Earth, Fire: Louisiana's Natural Heritage. Xlibris, PA, 2008.
The World's Largest Wetlands: Ecology and Conservation. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 2005.
For full listing see
Earth, Water, Fire: An Ecological Profile of Lanark County. Self-published, updated in 2008, 18 maps, 1999.


Lawson Medal and Gleason Prize for Competition.
Champion of Nature for Earth, Water, Fire: An Ecological Profile of Lanark County, 2008
Merit Prize, Society of Wetland Scientists for Wetland Ecology: Principles and Conservation, 2007
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