Senior Scientist Group
Computational Population Biology
The interactions between species and their biotic and abiotic environments produce effects across a broad range of taxonomic and spatial scales, ranging from the distribution of individuals within a population to speciation and global patterns of biological diversity. While experimental and observational approaches have improved our understanding of these processes, significant gaps still exist in our understanding of how these interactions shape species distributions, and how these effects change with taxonomic and geographic scale.
Our research primarily focuses on developing new informatics approaches to answer large-scale questions in ecology, evolution, and conservation biology. We demonstrate the application of these new methods in applied conservation studies and in the pursuit of a deeper understanding of the forces underlying species diversity and distributions. In the course of this pursuit we develop and disseminate software tools (primarily R packages) that are used by scientists worldwide in both basic and applied biological research. Our overarching goal is to develop new avenues for exploiting the rapidly expanding pool of publicly available molecular, morphological, and environmental data to answer the following questions:
(1) How do biotic and abiotic factors shape global patterns of biodiversity?
(2) How labile is the niche?
(3) How do biotic and abiotic factors shape the evolution of the niche?
(4) How do biotic and abiotic factors shape the composition of communities?
(5) How will climate change impact the distribution of suitable habitat for threatened and endangered species?