Research Questions

Changes in biodiversity through space and time constitute one of the most striking features of life on earth and have broad implications for human health, the production of renewable resources, and global climate regulation. Yet human activities are altering biodiversity worldwide through changes to environmental conditions such as climate, disturbance, productivity, and habitat area. Despite the importance of biodiversity across levels of biological organization, key gaps remain in our understanding of why biodiversity responds to environmental change within and across different ecosystems.

Our research group seeks to understand patterns of biodiversity at multiple scales and why changes in biodiversity emerge through the interplay of fundamental processes of community ecology (speciation, dispersal, ecological drift & niche selection). We explore this question using a multi-disciplinary approach that integrates concepts from community ecology (e.g., Myers & Harms 2009; Catano et al. 2017; LaManna et al. 2017), biogeography and evolutionary biology (e.g., Chase & Myers 2011; Lessard et al. 2012; Myers et al. 2013; Burkle, Myers & Belote 2016), and ecophysiology (e.g., Myers & Kitajima 2007; Kitajima & Myers 2008; Spasojevic et al. 2014, 2016). Our empirical approach combines field experiments, large-scale and long-term observational studies, and ecological modeling across a wide range of ecosystems (e.g., forests, grasslands, mountains & savannas) and organisms (e.g., herbaceous plants, trees, pollinators) spanning temperate and tropical regions. Our research focuses on the following questions:

Community Assembly from
Local to Global Scales

What processes determine biodiversity and community assembly across large-scale diversity gradients?  Learn More…

Eco-Evolutionary Assembly of Hyperdiverse Biotas

How do species-rich communities and regional biotas assemble?  Learn More…

Biodiversity, Biotic Interactions & Environmental Change

Why does environmental change alter biodiversity within and across trophic levels?  Learn More…

Functional Diversity, Ecological Contingency & Restoration

How does regional biodiversity assemble into local communities in natural and human-modified landscapes?  Learn More…

Temperate & Tropical
Forest Dynamics

What processes determine long-term community dynamics in temperate and tropical ecosystems?  Learn More…