SAB Members' Research Interests

Mary Ashley
My research program involves using the genetic (DNA) variation found in nature to study ecological and evolutionary processes. The major research efforts in my lab involve using DNA markers to study landscape genetics, population structure, and mating systems in a variety of plant and animal species. I am also interested in applying ecological genetics to issues in conservation biology and the management of threatened species, including genetic aspects of restorations and reintroductions. A newer interest of mine is discovering how organisms evolve and adapt to anthropogenic environmental changes. Finally, I'm interested in promoting interdisciplinary graduate education in environmental sciences, as PI of an NSF IGERT graduate training program called LEAP (Landscape, Ecological, and Anthropogenic Processes).

Jim Bever
I am interested in testing basic ecological and evolutionary processes occurring within plants and their associated fungi. Much of the conceptual basis of ecology and evolution was developed with animals in mind. Plants and fungi differ from animals in important ways, including their motility, their nutrient acquisition systems and their genetic systems. Conceptual frameworks building on these peculiarities can be very useful in exploring the dynamics of populations and communities of plants and fungi. Developing, testing, and exploring the implications of these models and has been the goal of my work.

Ottar Bjornstad
My main research is in the area of consumer-resource interactions with a particiular emphasis on the ecology of infectious diseases, forest insect outbreaks and spatiotemporal dynamics in general. I am very interested in the relationship between models and data. My recent focus has been on fully and partially immunizing childhood infections (like measles and whooping cough) and gypsy moth invasion. I also still enjoy dabbling in models for (st)age-structured dynamics, predator-prey cycles and mast reproduction.

Cherie Briggs

Gerardo Ceballos-Gonzalez

Kathryn Cottingham

Tim Essington
My research focuses on basic and applied questions in marine ecology and fisheries, with a specific interest in the effects of human activity on marine food webs. My work uses multiple approaches, including quantitative analysis, ecological modeling and empirical studies to better understand anthropogenic impacts on marine food webs. I've worked on temperate rocky reefs, estuaries, sub-tropical pelagic gyres and semi-enclosed seas. I also conduct large, global scale meta-analysis of fishery and ecological systems to derive generalities about the nature of linkages between the two.

Kyle E. Harms
My research concerns the diversity and dynamics of species-rich plant communities, with a specific focus on the ecological processes that maintain species diversity. Geographic research foci include tropical forests and pine savannas of the U.S. Gulf Coastal Plain.

Elizabeth Holmes

I work mainly in the area of theoretical ecology and statistical ecology. My current focus is on the behavior of stochastic population and community processes, and on the analysis of noisy data from such populations and communities. I spend inordinate amounts of time pondering multivariate and hierarchical stochastic processes. I use this research to guide extinction and status analyses for endangered and threatened species as part of my work with the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Jennifer Hughes Martiny

Maria Miriti
My research focuses on plant population and community ecology. Because plants are immobile and habitats are heterogeneous, individual plant responses to patchy resource distribution influences not only the spatial distribution of plants, but also the demographic trajectory of plant populations. Spatial constraints also influence community and ecosystem processes. My research attempts to merge information on the spatial distribution of resources and the distinct responses of neighboring individuals to the spatial characteristics of their environment.

Craig Osenberg
I am a population and community ecologist and work primarily in freshwater and marine systems.  My research strives to develop predictive frameworks for understanding how species interactions (e.g., competition and predation), organismal traits (e.g., morphology, life history), and environmental factors (e.g., habitat coupling, productivity, anthropogenic activities) influence the abundance and dynamics of ecological systems.  I am particularly interested in how population structure (due to spatial and ontogenetic influences) modifies population dynamics and the nature of species interactions.  My research spans basic and applied issues, including habitat quality and density-dependence in reef fishes, coral dynamics, the efficacy of MPAs, restoration of freshwater springs, implementation of assessment designs (e.g., BACIPS), and the development and application of meta-analysis.

Elise Pendall
I conduct research on carbon and water fluxes between terrestrial ecosystems and the atmosphere, and on the effects of global changes such as increasing carbon dioxide concentrations and land-use change on these fluxes. An important component of my work involves the use of stable isotopes as tracers to better quantify small changes in these fluxes that might not otherwise be detected. Much of my research focuses on belowground carbon pools and processes to characterize their role in ecosystem responses to global change.

Cathy Pfister
I am interested in the dynamics of marine populations, including the role of individual attributes, species interactions and nutrient exchanges. A current emphasis in my research is the interplay of demographic and genetic attributes of populations for extinction risk.

Taylor Ricketts
My research interests connect community and landscape ecology with biodiversity conservation. I currently focus on the ecological dynamics, spatial distributions, and economic values of ecosystem services, in particular pollination. My interests also include connectivity and conservation in human-dominated landscapes, understanding global patterns of biodiversity and threats, identifying resulting conservation priorities, and designing reserve networks to protect them efficiently.

Felisa Smith
I am interested in the factors influencing the body size of organisms across time, space and hierarchical scales. Current studies range from field investigations of the physiological and morphological trade offs to living in extreme environments, paleomidden work examining the evolutionary response of mammals to late Quaternary climate shifts, macroecological studies of mammalian body size across the globe and across their evolutionary history, to body size patterns of life over the past 3.6 billion years.

Jennifer Tank
I am an aquatic ecosystem ecologist and my research centers on understanding which factors control nutrient cycling and carbon dynamics in streams. In particular, we use human-altered ecosystems as large-scale manipulations that elucidate controls on stream biogeochemistry.

Peter H. Thrall
My research centres on the ecology and coevolutionary biology of natural plant-microbe interactions. I have a long-standing interest in the spatial dynamics of host-pathogen systems, as well as in the impacts of host social and mating behaviour on disease. In recent years my research has expanded to include the community ecology of native soil symbionts, and the benefits of using these to increase the cost-effectiveness of large-scale revegetation.