Ecology & Population Biology

Ecology is the scientific study of the distribution and abundance of organisms, the interaction among organisms, and the interactions between organisms and their abiotic environment. Ecologists try to understand the inner workings of natural ecosystems and the species they contain. In fact, the Ecology faculty at Duke University span the complete range of ecological inquiry, from individual organisms to populations and communities of interacting species to ecosystems to the entire biosphere.

Susan C. Alberts

Robert F. Durden Professor of Biology

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Emily Snow Bernhardt

Professor of Biology

I am broadly interested in the capacity of ecosystems to retain nutrients and energy, particularly in the face of human accelerated environmental change. My research primarily focuses on how ecosystem carbon and nutrient cycles are altered by climate and land cover change. The majority of my research to date has taken place in aquatic ecosystems, I think about biogeochemistry in a watershed context and am working in upland and floodplain soils as well as stream channels and wetlands in my... Full Profile »

James S. Clark

Nicholas Professor of Environmental Science

James S. Clark is H.L. Blomquist Professor of the Nicholas School of the Environment, Professor of Biology, and Professor of Statistics and Decision Science. Clark’s research focuses on how global change affects forests. Current projects explore consequences of climate, CO2, and disturbance. His lab is using long-term experiments and monitoring studies to determine disturbance and climate controls on the dynamics of 20th century forests in combination with extensive modeling to forecast... Full Profile »

Kathleen Donohue

Professor of Biology

We investigate the genetic basis of adaptation, including the evolution of phenotypic plasticity and maternal effects, niche construction, dispersal, and mechanisms of multilevel natural selection. Full Profile »

Sonke Johnsen

Professor in the Department of Biology

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Katharina V. Koelle

Associate Professor in the Department of Biology

My research focuses on the ecology and evolution of infectious diseases. I use a combination of mathematical and statistical approaches to understand the processes driving the disease dynamics of pathogens. My interests include the effect of climate on disease dynamics and the role that immune escape plays in the ecological dynamics of RNA viruses. Current projects focus on influenza, dengue, and norovirus. Full Profile »

Thomas Mitchell-Olds

Newman Ivey White Professor of Biology in Trinity College of Arts and Sciences

We study genetic variation in plant populations, focusing on genes that influence traits controlling plant performance in an environmental context – a central theme throughout our research in natural and agricultural populations. Much of our work is focused on the genes that affect ecological success and evolutionary fitness in natural environments. Similarly, the interaction of crop plants with their biotic and abiotic environments is controlled by complex trait variation which can be... Full Profile »

William F. Morris

Professor of Biology

Bill Morris studies the population ecology of plants and insects (both herbivores and pollinators). Current projects include: the population dynamic consequences of constitutive and inducible resistance in plants, the maintenance of mutualistic interactions between flowering plants and nectar-robbing pollinators, the use of population-level attributes to detect biotic... Full Profile »

Alexander Motten

Associate Professor of the Practice Emeritus of Biology

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Stephen Nowicki

Professor of Biology

The Nowicki Laboratory studies behavioral ecology and neuroethology, especially questions about the function, structure and evolution of animal signaling systems. Although birds serve as a common model system in the lab, Nowicki and his students have worked on a variety of organisms including invertebrates such as insects, spiders, shrimp and lobsters, and other vertebrates including lizards, dolphins and primates. Steve Nowicki’s long-time research associate (and wife) is Susan Peters.... Full Profile »

Mark D. Rausher

John Carlisle Kilgo Professor of Biology

We investigate the evolutionary processes that cause change at both the phenotypic and genetic levels. We have particular interests in the genetic basis of adaptation and in the evolution of metabolic pathways. Our approaches include molecular dissection of ecologically important phenotypes and characterizing patterns of selection acting on those phenotypes under natural conditions. For more information, please visit the Rausher lab web site. Full Profile »

Chantal D. Reid

Assistant Professor of the Practice in the Division of Environmental Sciences and Policy

As a physiological ecologist, my primary interests are to understand how environmental stresses on leaf gas exchange and plant carbon allocation control carbon gain, plant growth and reproduction. My research focuses on environmental factors likely to be affected by global change, particularly direct effect of carbon dioxide (CO2) and tropospheric ozone (O3) on physiology, and indirect effects on species interactions and distribution. My current research addresses two topics: i) the effects... Full Profile »

James F. Reynolds

Professor Emeritus

Research in my lab focuses on the direct effects of disturbance (e.g., drought, overgrazing, land-use change) on dryland ecosystems. My main interest is desertification (land degradation in drylands), a phenomenon often equated to a reduction in the biological and economic potential of land to support human populations, livestock and wild herbivores and which, ultimately, is linked to global environmental change through climate, biodiversity loss, human dimensions, and land use change. The... Full Profile »

Julie Reynolds

Associate Professor of the Practice of the Department of Biology

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Marcy K. Uyenoyama

Professor of Biology

Marcy Uyenoyama studies mechanisms of evolutionary change at the molecular and population levels. Among the questions under study include the prediction and detection of the effects of natural selection on genomic structure. A major area of research addresses the development of maximum-likelihood and Bayesian methods for inferring evolutionary processes from the pattern of molecular variation. Evolutionary processes currently under study include characterization of population structure... Full Profile »

John H. Willis

Professor of Biology

We conduct research on broad issues in evolutionary genetics, and we are currently addressing questions relating to the evolution of adaptation, reproductive isolation, breeding systems, inbreeding depression, and floral traits in natural plant populations. Please see our lab web page for more information. Full Profile »

Justin Prouty Wright

Associate Professor in the Department of Biology

My research focuses on understanding the causes and consequences of patterns of biological diversity across the planet. I am particularly interested in two broad questions: 1)How does the modification of the environment by organisms affect community structure and ecosystem function? and 2) what aspects of biodiversity matter most in the regulation of ecosystem function? While much of my research has focused on wetland plant communities, I am willing to study any organism and work in any... Full Profile »