Ecology

Emphasis Areas

The Ecology program involves more than 50 faculty members and 50 students who are working in a range of disciplines, including organismal ecology, populations and communities, and landscapes and ecosystems.

Organismal Ecology

Organismal ecology is a field of study that investigates species' behaviors, physiologies, and morphologies, as well as species' adaptations and how these adaptations help them to survive in their environment. Examples of such research could include the study of pheromones that help insects attract mates, the presence of a symbiotic partner that assists in the acquisition of energy and nutrients, or a trait that helps a species to adapt to climate change. 

Populations and Communities

Population ecology is a field of study that focuses on understanding how populations of particular species interact with their environment. Phenomena investigated include biodiversity and extinction, for example. Community ecology investigates the properties of and interactions among two or more groups of populations, including studies of species richness, predation, and food webs, among other topics.

Ecosystems and Landscapes

Ecologists often conduct studies that address entire ecosystems or landscapes. For example, researchers may investigate the effects of a natural disaster, such as a forest fire, or the flux of energy and nutrients across an entire system. Such large-scale research often relies heavily on spatial data and modeling, and is useful for addressing issues related to land use, species conservation, and climate change, among many other topics.