IE² researchers study a wide range of issues in ecology and evolution, but our interests coalesce around a few major themes. Our shared focus in these areas leads to collaborative projects and a rich intellectual atmosphere.
We are interested in the causes and consequences of microbial biodiversity, and the interactions between microbes, other organisms and their environment. Using experimental, field, and theoretical approaches, we are studying the factors that determine the distribution and abundance of microbes at local and planetary scales, the response of microbes to environmental change, and the role of microbial communities in ecosystem function and organismal development. (Bohannan, Bridgham, Green, Wood, Guillemin, Shapiro, Roy, Jin, McGuire, Louca, Barber)
Functional evolutionary and ecological genetics
We are identifying the molecular genetic basis for new phenotypes and studying the evolutionary processes that drive adaptation. By combining evolutionary and computational analysis with functional molecular assays, we decisively test hypotheses about the molecular mechanisms and evolutionary dynamics by which key biological features emerge. Hand in hand with these efforts we study the ecological significance of genetic variation in populations, communities and ecosystems. By combining approaches from molecular biology, biogeochemistry, and ecology, we test hypotheses regarding the generation, maintenance and ecological consequences of genetic variation. (Bohannan, Bradshaw/Holzapfel, Cresko, Phillips, Streisfeld, Wood, Postlethwait, Kimmel, Guillemin, Green, Roy, Jin, Barber, Kern, Ralph, Singh, Ting, Louca, Harms)
Evolution, development, and genomics
We study how changes in developmental processes have evolved to produce new morphological characters. Using genomic analysis, genetic mapping, and molecular developmental biology, we are investigating the evolution of phenotypes ranging from the skeletal features of vertebrates to the existence of sex in worms. This work is supported by an NSF Integrated Graduate Education and Research Training grant. (Bradshaw/Holzapfel, Cresko, Phillips, Streisfeld, Kimmel, Postlethwait, Guillemin, Johnson, Doe, Emlet)
Conservation Biology and Global Change
We are interested in understanding how global changes in climate and atmospheric composition affect the structure and function of ecosystems and the processes of evolution. We are studying the effect of global change on microbial and plant diversity, on carbon and nutrient cycling, on host-pathogen interactions, and the evolutionary response of insects to changing climate. (Bohannan, Bridgham, Bradshaw/Holzapfel, Green, Roy, Bartlein, Gavin, Retallack, B. Johnson, McGuire, Hallett, Ting, Louca, Silva)