To do science is to search for repeated patterns, not simply to accumulate facts.
—Robert MacArthur, 1972
Comparative, Functional, and Geographical Ecology
Ecological complexity and biodiversity make the search for repeated patterns in nature both difficult and exciting. Mounting global environmental problems make it imperative. Understanding biodiversity and ecological complexity is in part a matter of scale. Ecological systems span from the smallest interacting microbes (10^(-11) g) to the entire biosphere (1.8 X 10^(19) g). That’s over 30 orders of magnitude!
Student researchers in the Kenyon Macroecology Lab pursue a variety of projects, but all are focused on discovering and explaining patterns that apply across broad taxonomic and biogeographic scales. Our research approaches are also varied, including laboratory studies of the ecological physiology of insect larvae, field surveys of forest communities and plant performance, and ecoinformatic analyses of phylogenetic diversity and biogeography based on published data from all over the world. These diverse studies are tied together by a desire to understand how the evolved functional characteristics of individual organisms can be used to ‘scale-up’ to entire populations, communities, and ecosystems.