Population and Community Ecology

Population and community ecology seeks to understand the complex dynamics and spatial patterning of populations and of entire assemblages of multiple species across diverse environments and regions. Approaches include theoretical explorations along with experimental and observational studies at scales from laboratory flasks to entire regions of the globe.
Italics = secondary appointment in EEB, can serve as graduate co-chair only

Regina Baucom

Regina Baucom’s research broadly revolves around the central question “Why and how do some organisms persist and adapt to inhospitable environments?” She works on this topic utilizing species from the morning glory genus, many of which are agricultural weeds. There are three main projects underway in Baucom’s lab: the evolutionary genomics of plant defense and plant weediness, the influence of the mating system on the evolution of herbicide resistance, and the role of the plant metagenome on adaptation.

Robyn Burnham

Robyn Burnham studies the high diversity tropical forests of Ecuador, Peru and Brazil, identifying the dominant species in liana communities across the Amazon Basin, and determines the traits that predispose climbing species to proliferate under forest alterations.

Brad Cardinale (can serve as graduate co-chair only)

Brad Cardinale uses theory, experiments, and observational studies to address questions aimed at understanding how human alteration of the environment impacts the biotic diversity of communities and, in turn, how this loss can affect fluxes of energy and matter that are fundamental to all biological processes. His research features three primary branches: biodiversity and ecosystem processes, community assembly, and restoration ecology.

Vincent Denef

Vincent Denef uses metagenomic and metaproteomic approaches to gather an improved understanding of microbial population dynamics and community functioning within ecosystem context. He is particularly interested in the connection between genomic variation and altered ecological behavior, and how short- and long-term environmental change can drive both. While he has been studying these concepts in systems ranging from abandoned mines to the human gastrointestinal tract, he is currently focusing on freshwater systems such as the Laurentian Great Lakes.

Thomas Duda

Thomas Duda investigates the processes associated with ecological diversification. This work includes field and laboratory studies that involve analyses of feeding ecology, phylogenetics and phylogeography, and molecular investigations of the evolution of venoms of members of the predatory, marine gastropod genus Conus.

Meghan Duffy

Meghan Duffy's research focuses on the ecology and evolution of host-parasite interactions. She is especially interested in the intersection of ecology and evolutionary biology, including how rapid evolution affects ecological host-parasite dynamics, and how ecological context influences host-parasite evolution. Her research uses a combination of observational studies of natural populations and communities, manipulative experiments in the lab and field, and mathematical models.

Melissa Duhaime (can serve as graduate co-chair only)

Melissa Duhaime focuses on marine microbiology, spanning two themes: (i) ocean plastic-microbe associations and (ii) marine virus (meta)genomics. For the first, she investigates the role of microbes in the fate of marine plastics, and the role of plastics in marine microbial community structure and function in natural (N. Pacific Gyre, North Sea) and engineered (Biosphere2 Ocean) systems. For the second, she uses genomic tools to investigate evolution and ecology of ocean viruses (phages) and their microbial hosts, with particular interest in the role of nutrient limitation on infection dynamics and virus-host evolution.

Paul Dunlap

Paul Dunlap's research investigates the inception and development of species-specific symbioses between light-emitting bacteria and teleost fish. Laboratory studies examine symbiont-host interactions from the bacterial genetic, physiological, and genomic perspectives, field work addresses the behavioral ecology of the fish and population ecology of the bacteria, and mariculture studies focus on the developmental and reproductive biology of the fish.

Deborah Goldberg

Deborah Goldberg's research focuses on the mechanisms and consequences of community dynamics, including mechanisms of invasion and coexistence, plant-soil feedbacks, ecology of clonal plants, community and ecosystem response to climate change, and ecology of the human microbiome.

Mark Hunter

Mark Hunter's research interests include plant-animal interactions, ecosystem ecology, biodiversity and population dynamics. His research links population processes with ecosystem processes in terrestrial environments and explores the mitigation of global environmental change.

Inés Ibáñez (can serve as graduate co-chair only)

Inés Ibáñez's research interests are in plant community ecology, climate change and invasive species.

Aaron King

Aaron King's research focuses primarily on the ecology and evolution of infectious disease. His research also includes modeling specific systems, analyzing models and data using sophisticated mathematical, computational and statistical tools, and developing general methods to advance theoretical ecology and evolutionary biology.

L. Lacey Knowles

Lacey Knowles' research interests are in speciation, phylogeography and evolutionary radiations.

Annette Ostling

Annette Ostling's research explores niche versus neutral structure in population and communities, linking functional trait diversity with coexistence mechanisms, especially in forests. She also studies the robustness of coexistence and limits to similarity, the role of competitive interactions in range shifts under climate change, macroecological patterns and the influence of spatial structure on the evolution of species interactions and communities. Her interests also include the impacts of spatial structure on the evolution of pathogen transmission and virulence.

Mercedes Pascual

Mercedes Pascual is interested in climate change and infectious disease dynamics, especially malaria. She is also interested in how climate variability influences the dynamics of vector-borne and water-borne diseases at interannual time scales. 

Daniel L. Rabosky

Daniel Rabosky studies macroevolution, speciation, and evolutionary community ecology. He is especially interested in how ecological factors influence the processes of speciation, extinction, and trait evolution through time and space. His research includes field-based studies of ecological diversification in Australian reptiles, molecular phylogenetics, and mathematical and computer modeling of evolutionary dynamics in a broad range of taxonomic groups.

Pejman Rohani

Pejman Rohani studies population biology of host-natural enemy interactions. His research primarily focuses on the ecology and evolution of host-pathogen systems, using mathematical and statistical approaches to understand and explain empirical observations and make policy predictions.

John Vandermeer

John Vandermeer's lab engages in two related classes of research – the structure and function of tropical agroecosystems and the ecological theory of complex systems as applied to agroecosystems generally. Work in tropical agroecosystems is mainly concerned with organic coffee production, focusing on a model system of pest control in a large production facility in southern Mexico. Theoretical work focuses on spatial self-organization and its consequences for the structure of ecological networks.

Earl Werner

Earl Werner's interest focuses on the nature of species interactions and the consequences of these interactions within the structure of ecological communities. His research utilizes larval amphibian communities as a model system for experimental work. He also studies the cross-scale interactions influencing dynamics of amphibian and macroinvertebrate meta-communities based on a long-term data series collected from 37 ponds on the university's E. S. George Reserve.

Donald Zak (can serve as graduate co-chair only)

Donald Zak's work draws on ecology, microbiology, and biochemistry and is focused at several scales of understanding, ranging from the molecular to the ecosystem scale. Current research centers on understanding the link between plant and microbial activity within terrestrial ecosystems, and the influence climate change may have on these dynamics. Teaching includes courses in soil ecology and ecosystem ecology.