Research Interests

“Macroecology is way of studying relationships between organisms and their environment that involves characterizing and explaining statistical patterns of abundance, distribution, and diversity” - Jim Brown. These statistical patterns can yield insights into the processes governing the behavior of ecological systems (organisms, populations, communities, etc). We use macroecological approaches to study a variety of broad scale ecological patterns including biodiversity, body size, and community dynamics.

The historical focus in community ecology on short-term experimental manipulations has resulted in an underappreciation of how dynamic communities and ecosystems actually are. We are interested in using long-term data to better understand how and why natural systems change. In particular, we are interested in how community structure and system-level properties respond to perturbations such as climate shifts, habitat change, and species extinctions or invasions.

The Portal Project is a long-term site in southeastern Arizona. Begun by Jim Brown and associates, the site was originally designed to study the interactions among rodents, ants, and plants. However, with over 30 years of data available, the questions that can be addressed using the Portal Project are limited only by your imagination.

Quantitative models allow us to apply the logic and rationality of math and computer science to understand if our view of how ecological systems work is a reasonable one. We are broadly interested in the development and testing of ecological models. Current work focuses on species-area relationships, community dynamics, and metabolic ecology.

Much of our research relies on integrating information from multiple, large, ecological and remotely sensed databases. As such we are interested in the development and utilization of advanced computational tools for managing and interfacing with data.