Ecology Across Scales
from Individuals to Populations to Communities
Species are highly heterogeneous entities comprised of individuals that vary in their responses to ecological situations as a result of demographic or adaptive processes. While behavioral ecologists have
recently shifted from emphasizing grand mean population trends to considering the adaptive potential of
variation around the mean, spatial ecology largely has not. Individual differences in space use is an on-going research area of mine.
Environmental heterogeneity and context dependence are
ubiquitous concepts that link phenotypic expressions to the environment. For a given phenotype, particular spatial and social environments may be optimal. Subsequently, phenotypes link environmental processes with fitness and population dynamics, which is largely neglected in broad scale ecological modeling. I aim to explore the consequences of phenotypic composition for population dynamics.
Variation in population structure and dynamics ultimately can influence community interactions. In predicting facets of biodiversity, whether species richness, genetic, or functional diversity, it is necessary to understand species-environment relationships and how they might change under land use or climate change in the future.
Broadly speaking, my research interests revolve around understanding behavioral variation, and how this variation scales from individual differences through population dynamics, and community interactions. What genetic, physiological, or environmental mechanisms underlie animals' behavior? Why do individuals, populations, and species differ in their behavior? What are the consequences of individual variation in behavior for populations and communities?
I draw theory and methods from behavioral ecology, spatial science, and applied statistics for a multidisciplinary and multiscale approach to the study of ecology. I work with a variety of study systems using empirical (both field and lab), and theoretical (with computer simulations) approaches to tackle these questions.