I am interested in how variation influences ecological processes. The particular kind of variation I have worked with recently is in 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 work on these questions using a lab based flour beetle system, a freshwater aquatic pond system, and through theoretical modelling. I am also interested in more general modelling of cool theoretical questions.
Please look at the Research tab for more information on the systems I work in and some of the cool things I’ve found. Also please check out my CV and feel free look at some pictures of birds and things in the Photo Gallery.