"To do science is to search for repeated patterns, and to do the science of geographical ecology is to search for patterns of plant and animal life that can be put on a map."
- Robert H. MacArthur
Geographical Ecology is the study of local ecosystems across landscape, regional, continental, and global spatial scales. We are interested in linkages between biological community structure (which species, how many, what traits they have, how they interact) and ecosystem processes (energy, water, and sediment flows through ecosystems). We are interested in how these processes shape patterns observed at the landscape and network spatial scales, and how regional and continental scale processes influence these processes at smaller spatial scales.
We work in stream and riparian ecosystems, which are some of the most important ecosystems to human society: they are sources of water, food, recreation, and green infrastructure. Yet they are also some of the most sensitive to changes in hydrology and climate. We work in the southeastern, south-central and southwestern USA, home to a variety of terrestrial biomes, climates, and landscapes: the desert, semi-arid chaparral, semi-arid grasslands, tall grass prairies, temperate deciduous forests, and temperate coniferous forests. We and are interested in how relationships between community structure and ecosystem processes vary across biome gradients.
The biological systems of the Earth are rapidly changing due to losses of native species and gains of non-native species. The physical systems of the earth are also rapidly changing due to climate change (changes in temperature and precipitation patterns) and anthropogenic change (water use). We are beginning to understand how these process at local scales are both influenced by, and themselves influence, process occurring at larger spatial scales. Our work will help us understand the consequences of global environmental change, and aid in the restoration and conservation of ecosystems.