Our research group aims to understand spatial processes that shape biodiversity in freshwater ecosystems (especially streams). We are particularly excited about combining theoretical, statistical, and field-based approaches to address fundamental and applied questions in spatial ecology. Current key topics are:
Branching complexity and biodiversity in rivers
Rivers recurrently join to form a fractal branching network, in which geometric properties (e.g., branching patterns) remain similar across spatial scales. We are interested in how this “scale-invariant” complexity drives ecological systems. We tackle this question with mathematical models and big-data synthesis.
The causes and consequences of context-dependent dispersal
Dispersal is a fundamental process that mediates disease spread, metapopulation/metacommunity dynamics, and food webs. Although dispersal is often assumed to be a “stochastic” event in the ecological literature, accumulating evidence suggests that dispersal is triggered by internal (e.g., body size) and external (e.g., disturbance) factors. We aim to understand the causes and consequences of context-dependent dispersal using streams as a model system.
Cross-system trophic interactions
Ecosystems are not a stand-alone entity; rather, they are connected through resource flux across ecosystems. We are interested in how aquatic and terrestrial food webs are connected through animal migration (e.g., the emergence of aquatic insects), and how cross-system food web interactions mediate transfer of energy and the spread of environmental contaminants.