Webb Lab

Theoretical Evolutionary Ecology

Department of Biology, Colorado State University

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In the Webb lab, we study how the interplay between ecological and evolutionary mechanisms affects the dynamics and persistence of ecological systems. One facet of this research addresses the evolution of ecological interactions. Because ecological and evolutionary processes are stereotypically viewed as acting on different time scales, they are often studied in isolation from one another. However, these processes interact, and our research focuses on the mechanisms and implications of evolution in traits that structure ecological interactions. A second facet of our research addresses how the evolution of ecological interactions scales up to affect higher levels of organization. Natural selection acts primarily at the level of the individual, but when such selection impacts ecological interactions, it can indirectly affect higher organizational levels such as interacting species, ecological communities or ecosystems. Many of our projects incorporate the effects of anthropogenic change in complex ecological systems with implications for concomitant impacts on human society. In pursuing this broad research program, we work on projects that are united conceptually by the interplay between ecological and evolutionary dynamics and the scaling of individual traits to higher levels of ecological organization. Check out our research projects for more details, but examples of general questions we are currently addressing include:

What do trait-based approaches tell us about community and ecosystem level response to environmental change?

What mechanisms affect the dynamics of disease prevalence in highly virulent diseases?

How does the spatial distribution of organisms impact their response to disturbances?

Our work is driven by the biological question, but we use a variety of quantitative techniques (i.e., dynamical systems, simulation, Bayesian hierarchical modeling, applied statistics) and have the flexibility to develop data-driven, quantitative approaches customized to the biological problem.



Webb Lab Spring 2011: From left to right: Michael Buhnerkempe, Kim Pepin, Colleen Webb, David Hayman, Andrew Kanarek, Angie Luis. Front row: Clint Leach, Greg Ames.

  Colorado State University Graduate Degree Program in Ecology Department of Biology