Judy Che-Castaldo, Ph.D.


Conservation & Science


Alexander Center for Applied Population Biology


Research Scientist


Ph.D. – Behavior, Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics, University of Maryland, College Park
B.S. – Biology, College of William and Mary


Areas of Expertise

  • Population ecology
  • Conservation biology
  • Modeling population dynamics
  • Use of science in conservation


Judy is an ecologist working to apply theories and tools from population biology to address conservation issues. Her broad research interests have led to a varied background that includes research on both animals and plants, ranging from field experiments to analysis of large datasets.

Prior to joining Lincoln Park Zoo, Judy conducted a wide range of biological research, from animal behavior (studying mate-choice and fitness) to phytoremediation and the ecology of non-native species. She was a postdoctoral fellow at the National Socio-Environmental Center, where her research focused on improving recovery planning for species listed under the Endangered Species Act.

As a research scientist at Lincoln Park Zoo, Judy combines her previous experience in population modeling and large-scale comparative analysis and applies them to species conservation. Her research projects include looking for patterns in vulnerability across zoo populations and analyzing data on breeding and transfer recommendations to improve the management of zoo-based and wild populations. She is also developing the COMPADRE and COMADRE Matrix Model Database, a global repository for plant and animal demographic data.


  • Che-Castaldo, J., Jones, O. R., Kendall, B. E., Burns, J. H., Childs, D. Z., Ezard, T. H. G., Hernandez-Yanez, H., Hodgson, D. J., Jongejans, E., Knight, T., Merow, C., Ramula, S., Stott, I., Vindenes, Y., Yokomizo, H., & Salguero-Gómez, R. 2020. Comments to “Persistent problems in the construction of matrix population models.”. Ecological Modelling, 416, 108913. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2019.108913.
  • Che‐Castaldo, J., Johnson, B., Magrisso, N., Mechak, L., Melton, K., Mucha, K., Terwilliger, L., Theis, M., Long, S., & Faust, L. 2019. Patterns in the long-term viability of North American zoo populations. Zoo Biology, 38(1), 78–94. https://doi.org/10.1002/zoo.21471.
  • Che-Castaldo, J. P., Byrne, A., Perišin, K., & Faust, L. J.   2019. Sex-specific median life expectancies from ex situ populations for 330 animal species. Scientific Data, 6, 190019. https://doi.org/10.1038/sdata.2019.19.
  • Che-Castaldo, J. P., Grow, S. A., & Faust, L. J. 2018. Evaluating the Contribution of North American Zoos and Aquariums to Endangered Species Recovery. Scientific Reports, 8(1), 9789. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-27806-2.
  • Che‐Castaldo, J., Che‐Castaldo, C., & Neel, M. C. 2018. Predictability of demographic rates based on phylogeny and biological similarity. Conservation Biology, (Early View). https://doi.org/10.1111/cobi.13135.
  • Meyerson, R., D. Moore, S. Long, and J. Che-Castaldo. 2017. Welfare of captive polar bears and their value to in situ conservation efforts. In A. Butterworth, editor, Marine Mammal Welfare: Human Induced Change in the Marine Environment and its Impacts on Marine Mammal Welfare. pages 489–502. Springer.
  • Salguero-Gómez, R., O.R. Jones, C.R. Archer, C. Bein, H. de Buhr, et al. 2016. COMADRE: A global database of animal demography. Journal of Animal Ecology 85(2):371-384.
  • D.M. Evans, J.P. Che-Castaldo, D. Crouse, F.W. Davis, R. Epanchin-Niell, et al. 2016. Species recovery in the United States: Increasing the effectiveness of the Endangered Species Act. Issues in Ecology #20.
  • Che-Castaldo, J.P. and M.C. Neel. 2016. Species-level persistence probabilities for recovery and conservation status assessment. Conservation Biology 30(16):1297-1306.
  • Wei, C.A., W.R. Burnside, and J.P. Che-Castaldo. 2015. Teaching socio-environmental synthesis with the case study approach. Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences 5(1):42-49.
  • Che-Castaldo, J.P. and D.W. Inouye. 2015. Interspecific competition between a non-native metal-hyperaccumulating plant (Noccaea caerulescens, Brassicaceae) and a native congener across a soil metal gradient. Australian Journal of Botany (special issue on Ultramafic Ecosystems) 63(2):141–151.
  • Salguero-Gómez, R., O.R. Jones, C.R. Archer, Y.M. Buckley, J. Che-Castaldo et al. 2015. The COMPADRE plant matrix database: An open online repository for plant demography. Journal of Ecology 103(1): 202-218.
  • Che-Castaldo, J.P. and D.W. Inouye. 2014. Field germination and survival of experimentally introduced metal hyperaccumulator Noccaea caerulescens (Brassicaceae) across a soil metal gradient. American Midland Naturalist 171(2): 229-245.
  • Zeigler, S.L., J.P. Che-Castaldo, and M.C. Neel. 2013. Actual and potential use of population viability analysis in recovery of plant species listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.. Conservation Biology 27(6): 1265–1278.
  • Neel, M.C. and J.P. Che-Castaldo. 2013. Predicting recovery criteria for threatened and endangered plant species based on past abundances and biological traits. Conservation Biology. 27(2): 385-397.
  • Che-Castaldo, J.P. and M.C. Neel. 2012. Testing surrogacy assumptions: Can threatened and endangered plants be grouped by biological similarity and abundances?. PLoS ONE 7(12): e51659.
  • Che-Castaldo, J.P. and D.W. Inouye. 2011. The effects of dataset length and mast seeding on the demography of Frasera speciosa, a long-lived monocarpic plant. Ecosphere 2: article 126.
  • LeClerc, J.E., J.P. Che, J.P. Swaddle, and D.A. Cristol. 2005. Reproductive success and developmental stability of eastern bluebirds (Sialia sialis) on golf courses: evidence that golf courses can be productive. Wildlife Society Bulletin 33(2): 483-493.
  • Swaddle, J.P., J.P. Che, and R.E. Clelland. 2004. Symmetry preference as a cognitive by-product in starlings. Behaviour 141: 469-478.