“Macroecology is way of studying relationships between organisms and their environment that involves characterizing and explaining statistical patterns of abundance, distribution, and diversity” - Jim Brown. These statistical patterns can yield insights into the processes governing the behavior of ecological systems (organisms, populations, communities, etc). We use macroecological approaches to study a variety of broad scale ecological patterns including biodiversity, body size, and community dynamics.
Geographic patterns of species richness: We are interested in understanding variability in species diversity at continental to global scales. In particular we are interested in multi-scale modeling of these patterns, combining regional scale influences on species pools with local scale limitations on the number of species.
Individual size distributions: The individual size distribution describes the number of individuals in a community that have a certain body size. This pattern provides a linkage between community and ecosystem level processes because the size distribution can be combined with predictions for the number of individuals to evaluate the ecosystem level contributions of the focal community. In addition, this pattern provides insight into the influence of body size on community structure.
Maximum entropy models: Ecologists have recently begun utilizing the maximum entropy framework from statistical physics to attempt to understand macroecological patterns. Entropy maximization determines the most likely form of a pattern given a small number of limiting constraints. We are interested in testing and expanding these approaches in an attempt to simply the current diversity of macroecological patterns and processes.