Theoretical Ecology in the Abbott Lab


We use mathematical models to explore possible causes for why species occur where they do, what makes their abundances fluctuate over time, and what creates patterns in their spatial arrangements.  We focus on identifying natural phenomena that are not fully explained by existing ecological theory, and we investigate how new biologically-motivated models might improve our mechanistic understanding of these phenomena.  At its core, all of our research explores how the inherent nonlinearities in ecological processes drive changes in the abundances and distributions of species.  The effects of these nonlinearities are influenced in complex ways by space, including habitat patchiness across the landscape and the dispersal of individuals among patches, and by stochasticity (random perturbations).  Click to learn more about...


Dr. Karen C. Abbott

Associate Professor

Department of Biology

Lab outing to an Indians game – April 2016

Top row, L to R: this guy! (local celebrity and not actually a member of the lab), Brian Lerch, Katie Dixon, Sam Catella

Bottom row, L to R: Karen Abbott, Chris Stieha, Chris Moore

Interested in joining the lab?

Graduate student and postdoctoral positions are periodically available in my group, and we host undergraduate research projects when space is available.  Many different topics and study systems are appropriate as long as there’s a major focus on quantitative ecological theory.  I encourage students to devise research projects that suit their own interests.  If you have a strong math background and an interest in using quantitative approaches to investigating ecological or evolutionary questions, please contact me to discuss these opportunities.