Not Set Ecology & Evolution- Ecology and Conservation Biology

Ecology & Evolution

Why species occupy the habitats they do and what drives the fluctuations in their numbers are questions that are fundamental for understanding biodiversity; the answers are essential for conserving it. Organisms confront many challenges in their environment, from obtaining the energy needed to grow and reproduce to coping with an array of competitors, predators, and pathogens. Global change, whether via climatic shifts, the advent of invasive species, or habitat loss and fragmentation, is creating new challenges and changing the nature of biological communities and the composition of ecosystems. Ecological research has uncovered enormous complexity in the relationships of organisms to their environments and the challenge now is to distill that complexity into principles that will help us manage our ecosystems and preserve our biodiversity in a rapidly changing world.

Faculty 1

Scott Burgess

My research combines ecological and evolutionary principles to study the population biology of coastal marine species (mainly invertebrates such as bryozoans and corals). Topics studied include larval dispersal, population connectivity, population dynamics, life history evolution, adaptive phenotypic plasticity, maternal effects, and local adaptation. I typically use some combination of field and laboratory experiments, field surveys, and mathematical modeling.

Emily H. DuVal

My research program explores the evolution of social behavior in animals, particularly birds, with an emphasis on cooperation, sexual selection, and reproductive strategies.

Brian D. Inouye

At each level of organization, from genes to species to communities, one of the most exciting aspects of biology is diversity. Why do some communities consist of so many species, when others are dominated by just a few? The central goal of my research program is to join theoretical and empirical approaches to understanding how species coexist.

Don R. Levitan

I am interested in the ecology and evolution of marine invertebrates. My work examines the interactions between ecological processes, natural and sexual selection, and molecular evolution. I am particularly interested in how sperm availability and population density influence the evolution of gamete traits and reproductive behavior and the cascading effects of this selection on reproductive isolation and speciation.  I enjoy integrating field experiments and molecular studies with theory.

Leithen M'Gonigle

In my research, I aim to understand how interactions between species 1) enable those species to persist and 2) direct their future evolution. I use a combination of theoretical, empirical, and statistical approaches. Topics I am most interested in include sexual selection, host-parasite interactions, and Allee effects. In my theoretical work, I also aim to generate empirically testable hypotheses and the corresponding tools needed to test them. Lastly, because insights about the origins and maintenance of biodiversity can inform conservation, I try to make connections with the appropriate conservation programs.

Austin R. Mast

I am a community ecologist with broad interests in ecology, evolution, physiology, and environmental chemistry.  My research focuses on macroalgal populations, intertidal communities, and links between biology, environmental conditions and water chemistry.  I use a combination of field and laboratory methods to understand natural variability in marine populations, responses of individual species and communities to climate change and pollution, and feedbacks between biology and water chemistry.

Sophie J. McCoy

I am a community ecologist with broad interests in ecology, evolution, physiology, and environmental chemistry.  My research focuses on macroalgal populations, intertidal communities, and links between biology, environmental conditions and water chemistry.  I use a combination of field and laboratory methods to understand natural variability in marine populations, responses of individual species and communities to climate change and pollution, and feedbacks between biology and water chemistry.

Thomas E. Miller

At the heart of my interests is the problem of how ecology and evolution combine to determine the number and abundances of species in communities.

Daniel Okamoto

Is study population dynamics with a particular focus on marine species. I am interested in how environmental and trophic interactions regulate fluctuations in demographics (i.e. recruitment, growth, reproduction and mortality) and population size, and how management (especially in fisheries) impacts such dynamics in space and time. My research integrates field and laboratory experiments, field surveys, statistical analysis, mathematical theory and simulation modeling. Primary research taxa thus far include sea urchins, marine macroalgae, forage fish, reef fish and abalone.

Andrew Rassweiler

Dr. Andrew Rassweiler is a marine ecologist who combines field experiments, data analysis and mathematical modeling to address both basic and applied questions, mainly in temperate reef ecosystems.  He has used this mix of tools to understand community dynamics, particularly the mechanisms that lead to abrupt shifts from one species assemblage to another.

Joseph Travis

I am interested in how and why the features of animals, particularly freshwater fish and amphibians, vary from one population to another.  Variation among local populations of the same species represents the earliest stage in the adaptive generation of biodiversity and understanding that variation can give us insights into a variety of ecological and evolutionary processes that affect life histories, morphology, behavioral patterns, and even physiological responses.

Nora Underwood

I am a population biologist interested in the ecology and evolution of plant-insect interactions. My primary focus is on how genotypic and phenotypic variation among individuals affects the long-term spatial and temporal dynamics of populations.

Alice A. Winn

I study plant population biology, life-history evolution, and ecological genetics.

Janie L. Wulff

I study the ecology of sponges and the organisms with which they interact as mutualistic partners, competitors, and prey, especially in coral reefs, seagrass meadows, and mangroves.

Emeritus Faculty 2

Frances C. James

I am currently studying the evidence for the widely accepted hypothesis that birds are maniraptoran theropod dinosaurs and developing a model that characterizes forest-management options and their relative likelihood of providing sustainability for the full biodiversity of the longleaf-pine ecosystem

Associates 2

Kevin Dixon

Geographic variation in sexual selection.

Coastal and Marine Lab Faculty 1

Sandra D. Brooke

My primary research is on coral reefs from shallow waters to the deep sea. My focus is on understanding their distribution, abundance, and physiology, as well as how they are affected by anthropogenic impacts.

Felicia C. Coleman

My research focus is marine ecology, particularly as it relates to reef fishes and their interactions with other species in their community and their habitat.

Chip Cotton

Current research in my lab is largely concentrated on the study of age, growth and reproduction in marine fishes.  Many of the fishes involved in these studies are deep-water, “k-selected” species, therefore conservation is often a requisite component of my projects.

Dean Grubbs

My research interests are in ichthyology and marine ecology with an emphasis on the biology of coastal, pelagic, and deep sea fishes.  Much of my research focuses on exploited, imperiled, or poorly studied elasmobranch species and is often directed towards answering questions necessary for sustainable management and conservation of their populations.  I am particularly interested in the drivers of community structure and habitat use patterns as well as population dynamics and life history variability.

Christopher Koenig

My research is focused on economically important reef fishes of the southeastern United States. Subject areas include studies of absolute abundance and survival in nursery habitats, demographics of reproductive groups on offshore spawning sites, deep-water coral-reef restoration, and trophic interactions of marine fishes.

  1 Can mentor graduate students in the Department of Biological Science.
  2 Cannot mentor graduate students in the Department of Biological Science.