Michael H. Cortez

All of my publications are listed on my Google Scholar profile. If you cannot access a paper, please email me for a copy.

1. Population-level effects of adaptive intraspecific variation

Adaptation can be evolutionary or plastic in nature, and both have the potential to alter ecological dynamics (e.g., changes in species' densities or spatial distributions). I am studying how variation in prey defenses and predator offenses shape the population-level dynamics of predator-prey systems, and how those effects depend on the mode of adaptation (e.g., inducible versus evolving defenses). Much of this work is in collaboration with Edd Hammill (Utah State University), whose protist system is being used to test theoretical predictions. My work helps explain how density feedbacks, phenotype feedbacks, and density-phenotype feedbacks shape the ecological dynamics of communities.

2. Epidemiological Theory for Multi-Host-Multi-Pathogen Systems

Most communities are made up of multiple host species and multiple pathogen species, where the host species can be infected by more than one pathogen species and each pathogen species can infect multiple host species. I am studying how disease dynamics in multi-host-multi-pathogen communities are affected by interspecific host interactions, interspecific pathogen interactions, and intraspecific host and pathogen variation. Much of this work is in collaboration with Meghan Duffy (University of Michigan), whose Daphnia-parasite system is being used to test theoretical predictions. I am also exploring how host and pathogen evolution alter the population-level dynamics of host-pathogen systems. My work helps explain the context-dependent rules governing the relationships between species diversity and disease.

3. Context-dependent responses to environmental change

Species' responses to environmental change can depend on the other members in the community. I am studying how responses to environmental change depend on direct and indirect density-mediated and trait-mediated interactions within communities. Much of my work focuses on counter-intuitive responses to environmental change. For example, a hydra effect is the phenomenon where increased mortality of a species counter-intuitively causes an increase in abundance. My work helps explain how these counter-intuitive responses are driven by the interactions between species, adaptive responses in the species (e.g., changes in prey defense), and the mode of adaptation (e.g., evolution versus plasticity).