Welcome

samhouston_waterboatmen2

Research

I am a population and community ecologist interested in how variation influences ecological processes. The particular kind of variation I have worked with recently is in the link between environmental variation and individual traits, and how this variation can alter species behaviors and interactions to affect the distribution and abundance of species in communities and across landscapes. For my dissertation I worked on how individual level trait variation due to phenotypic plasticity and developmental constraints in the natal environment affects community dynamics across landscapes with variable habitat quality. An individual who developed in a very poor environment may be too small, too slow growing, or not have enough energy in reserve to successfully invade another community. However, an individual that experienced great juvenile conditions with plentiful and high quality resources may be well suited to invade a community, even if the community it invades is relatively low quality habitat. The implications of variable habitat quality and the variable individuals that come from them have not been examined at the community or metacommunity scale, but they may explain much variation in community assembly and dynamics.

I worked on these questions during my dissertation using a lab based flour beetle system, a freshwater aquatic pond system, and through theoretical modelling.

I am currently a postdoctoral researcher in Bret Elderd’s lab at Louisiana State University. Here I am studying how baculovirus epidemics spread through and between populations of fall armyworm moths. We are interested in tying together scales from the level of variable individuals to regional dynamics. I am also still working on and interested in more general modelling of cool theoretical questions related to variation, habitat quality, community and population dynamics, conservation, disease dynamics, and more.

Please look at the Research tab for more information on the systems I work in and some of the cool things I’ve found. Visit the links page for information about the labs I’ve worked in. Also please check out my CV and feel free look at some pictures of birds and things in the Photo Gallery.