Ecology

Ecology is a large, diverse and vibrant field of science. Ecologists work across a broad range of biological organization, from processes acting within individual organisms, to populations of a single species, to sets of species that occur together in communities or interact with their physical environment in ecosystems. Ecologist use both theory and empiricism, and work in the field and the laboratory.

Ecologists in EEMB strive to generate new understanding of the relationship between organisms and their biotic and abiotic environment, using two overlapping approaches. One is driven by the attempt to generate and test general ideas in ecology. EEMB faculty have made important contributions to the development of general ecological theory and testing it with studies of population regulation, community structure, and ecosystem function. The second approach focuses on problems specific to particular ecological systems such as deserts, the tundra, the coastal ocean, lakes, and streams.

EEMB ecologists are providing the scientific understanding necessary for the development of solutions to some of society’s most critical environmental problems, including biodiversity loss, organismal responses to environmental change, eutrophication of inland waters, disease spread and dynamics, effects of ocean acidification, and species invasions.

Research Areas

Disease Ecology

Disease ecology is the study of the ecological principles that determine the spatial and temporal patterns of disease incidence, prevalence, and impacts on their host populations.

Drilling frozen soil cores at Toolik field station, Alaska.

Ecosystems function as an integrated system in which organisms interact with each other and with their physical environment, moving energy, carbon, and nturients through foodwebs and physical flows. Ecosystem ecology is where biology integrates with chemistry, hydrology, atmospheric science and other fields.

Population and Community Ecology

Population and community ecology is the study the dynamics of individual populations and the interactions of species within natural communities, spanning many spatial and temporal scales.