Research

We explore how and why ecological communities vary from place to place, and use ants and other soil critters as model organisms in evolutionary ecology. In the essay “Systematics Ascending”, E. O. Wilson contrasted two ways of doing science based on…

People

Folks in our lab know their organisms, know their theory, and combine field and lab studies to answer questions that obsess us. We work all over the world, but have a real fondness for tropical rainforests and grasslands. We have a helluva lot…

Teaching

Most of the world’s greatest challenges are ecological. We are all students in this rapidly changing world and depend upon everyone’s creativity and hard work to find solutions.  We learn by combining intense exposure to data and concepts, regular practice of new skills, and making time for quietude…

Stories

A chaos of surfaces: part 2

The litter biologist, on her hands and knees in the tropical litter, dips low and smells the moist spicy funk of good rot*.  She sees a mosaic of five or six species of leaves, some rounded, some crenulated, in shades…

A chaos of surfaces: part 1

We humans are blessed with huge brains. Those brains are plugged into a handful of sensor arrays–ears, noses, and eyes–which stream gigabytes of information. All of this exists in a platform about (in my case) five and half feet off…

Fighter planes, dinosaurs, and bugs

I grew up in the era of cheap plastic toys, the kind you could get from the Dime Store. The Dime Store’s narrow aisles were full of cheap stuff. The lighting was garish and the place smelled of floor wax…

Toward a MacroEcology of Some of the Little Things that Run the World

Working to develop tech to ID and quantify inverts from NEON’s trap arrays

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The Ten Principles of Ecology

I have been teaching a course called “Principles of Ecology” at OU since 1996. It was a traditional two one-hour lecture, one three-hour lab for most of those years. In 2013, I decided to flip the course, converting the lectures…

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A slightly less paradoxical paradox

The Paradox of Enrichment is not the only outcome when you fertilize

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