Who we are
Our group brings together scientists with diverse backgrounds to explore leading questions in population and community ecology. Although all of us work at the interface of theory and experiments in plant systems, current and past members have research and education backgrounds that span fields from ecology to evolution, systems from marine to terrestrial environments, and approaches from the mathematical to the experimental.
Projects in the group range from pure theory to the pure empiricism, but our group has particular expertise with the integration of theory and experiments. We typically achieve this by working with mathematical models that reasonably describe the dynamics of plant populations in nature. Such models are key because they allow us to move between the on the ground biology of the species in the field, and the mathematical descriptions of nature in ecological theory. Because we aim for our experiments to inform theory, our projects often focus on annual plant populations and communities, where the short and simple life cycles facilitate modeling and multigenerational field experiments. Theory also guides our projects with longer lived plants, often in alpine environments here in Switzerland.
The broader impacts of our research
In addition to advancing a fundamental understanding of ecological processes, our research informs the management of invasive plant species and the preservation of native species diversity in a changing climate. Our blend of population models and field experiments allows us to forecast the impacts of biological invasions and changing climates on longer time scales than possible with empirical work alone. Past studies, for example, show how changing rainfall affects the long term persistence of rare plant populations, and the timelines necessary to observe the impacts of invasive plants on native species diversity.