- Assistant Professor
Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, Energy and Resources, December 2004
- University of Michigan
2005 Kraus Natural Science Building
830 North University
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-1048
- Phone: (734) 936-2898
- Fax: (734) 763-0544
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
A central goal of my research is to understand how competitive interactions shape community structure on both ecological and evolutionary time scales from local to macroecological scales. By a community's structure I mean properties like the number of species it contains, the relative abundance of those species, the distribution of traits across species, and the relationship between abundance and traits. On ecological time scales, I am particularly interested in the relative roles of species similarity (neutrality) and species differences (niches) (or put another way, the relative roles of fitness-equalizing mechanisms and stabilizing mechanisms). Discerning these roles is not only a fundamentally important ecological question, it also has important implications for the robustness and resilience of communities under global change. I am also interested in the array of potential stabilizing coexistence mechanisms, and in particular their implications for the functional traits present in a community. On evolutionary time scales, I am particularly interested in the conditions under which species evolve towards either ecological equivalence or niche differences. Other areas of interest include foodweb structure and dynamics, spatial macroecology theory, allometric scaling, ecological stochiometry, and the potential for higher levels of selection when evolution occurs in a spatial context.
I approach my research by developing theory, mathematically and conceptually, and by testing theory, as I find this combined approach the most fruitful. On the theoretical side, recurring themes in my approach include looking for new angles from which to simplify the complexity of ecological systems, trying to combine disparate bodies of theory, and watching out for insights that become clear only when finite size effects and chance events (i.e. ecological drift) are considered. On the empirical side, I have most often collaborated with others who have collected the necessary data, or have used available data. I have also done some of my own fieldwork, and am interested in doing more. I am most familiar with terrestrial plant communities, but also think more broadly.