John Vandermeer

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John Vandermeer

Asa Gray Distinguished University Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Arthur F. Thurnau Professor

Office Location(s): 2079 / 2081 Kraus Natural Science Building
Phone: 734.764.1446
Fax: 734.763.0544
Vandermeer Lab
View Curriculum Vitae

  • Affiliation(s)
    • Center for the Study of Complex Systems
      Michigan Center for Theoretical Physics
      School of Natural Resources and Environment
      Latin American and Caribbean Studies
      American Studies
  • Fields of Study
    • Ecology, theoretical ecology, tropical ecology, agroecology
  • About


    Answers to population ecology exercises

    Sustainable Food Systems at U-M


    Academic background

    Ph.D., University of Michigan; Post Doc, University of Chicago; Faculty member at U-M since 1971.

    Research interests

    I. Nonlinear dynamics, especially as applied to population models. Analytical and theoretical models of coupled predator/prey dynamical systems, applying analytical techniques similar to those used in coupled oscillators in physical systems. Application of complex one-dimensional maps to a variety of population and ecosystem concepts. 

    II. Dynamics of rain forest succession following catastrophic damage -- field work in Nicaragua in rain forest damaged by Hurricane Joan. This research is concentrated in ten permanent plots in the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua in the area visited by Hurricane Joan in 1988. Annual censuses of all trees in these plots provide data for the analysis of post disturbance succession in this highly diverse tropical ecosystem. 

    III. Ecology of multidimensional agroecological systems -- intercropping systems and agroforestry systems in Tropical America, field work in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Mexico. The focus is on the role of biodiversity in the functioning of agroecosystems, especially the multispecies systems so common in tropical areas. 

    IV. Dynamics of rain forest destruction and conservation -- socioeconomic and political analysis of neotropical conversion. Focus is on recent events in Central America and the nature of the conversion process, including sociopolitical as well as ecological forces involved in current debates about rain forest conservation.


    Field Ecology (Co-taught with Ivette Perfecto, undergrad/graduate field course,  offered every year,  1997 – 2003; 2006 - present).

    Dynamics of neotropical rainforests (Co-taught with Ivette Perfecto, 2 week field course, taught in Spanish in Nicaragua, offered every year,  1989 - present).

    Biology and Human Affairs (large,  200+  student undergraduate non-majors course dealing with sociopolitical issues in biology,  offered every year,  1980 - present).

    The ecology of agricultural ecosystems (undergrad/graduate course offered every other year, 1990 - present).

    Other recent teaching activities

    Issues on Women in Science (co-taught with Abby Stewart) – 2006.

    Biodiversity:  Principles and applications (Co-taught with Ivette Perfecto, offered in 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2005 at the Colegio de la Frontera Sur, Chiapas, Mexico;, University of Florence, 2003; Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil, 2004; University of Prague, Prague, Czech Republic, 2005).

    Nonlinear dynamics in ecology (Undergrad/graduate course offered every other year, 1993-2004).

    Elementary Biology (Bio 162) – Elementary course for Bio majors, 2001.

    The ecology of populations (graduate course,  offered every year,  1997 - 2000)

  • Research Areas of Interest
    • Theoretical ecology, agroecology, tropical ecology
  • Graduate students
    • Gordon Fitch, Paul Glaum, Zach Hajian-Forooshani, Chau Ho, Beatriz Otero Jimenez, Mariana Valencia-Mestre, Chatura Vaidya, Theresa Wei Ying Ong, Senay Yitbarek