Community ecology in a dynamic world
Natural communities are enormously diverse and dynamic. This makes it exceedingly difficult to understand how they work, but this is what ecologists do. My work is motivated by the use of mathematical tools to disentangle the complex interplay of mechanisms generating these patterns. Even in empirical studies, a mathematical formalization of population and community processes provides a unifying conceptual foundation that can provide clear direction for tests and broaden the implications of results. Here, I summarize my research, which uses plant communities to explore and test ideas related specifically to the role of species interactions in diversity maintenance. In particular, I seek to understand how species differences in their responses to the environment and competition jointly structure diverse communities, and how local-scale coexistence mechanisms translate into broader-scale patterns.
How do regional differences in environmental conditions drive geographic patterns in species diversity?