About Me

aboutJon Lefcheck

I’m a Ph.D. candidate studying marine science at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, The College of William & Mary in Gloucester Point, VA.

My research interests span from general community ecology with a focus on marine systems, to biodiversity science, to ecological statistics. My dissertation focuses on new ways of thinking about biodiversity, specifically the use of organismal ‘functional’ traits and evolutionary history to help answer ecological questions using a combined experimental and observational approach.

In particular, I’m interested in how functional traits, and phylogeny and taxonomy, can be used to describe and explain patterns and processes in nature. I’m currently:

  • Exploring global biogeographic patterns, mechanisms of community assembly, and fish productivity in reef fishes using data from the Reef Life Survey network.
  • Investigating seasonal and interannual patterns in invertebrate diversity in Chesapeake Bay seagrass beds, with an emphasis on community responses to catastrophic warming events.
  • Explaining how seagrass beds function, using experimental manipulations of esturarine consumers.

I also use synthetic approaches to generalize the contributions of diversity to human well-being. Does every species matter, or can we lose some with only minor consequences? Currently, I’m leading an investigation of whether diversity matters when we consider the suite of functions that underpin healthy ecosystems as part of an NCEAS working group. We also recently summarized two decades of diversity-function experiments in marine habitats.


Photo credit: Matt Whalen

My research also involves seagrass ecosystems, specifically the animals that live within them. As part of the the Zostera Experimental Network (ZEN), we investigated the relationships between invertebrate grazers, their seagrass home, their predators, and the environment across the entire northern hemisphere. Currently, we’re engaged in a second round of investigation to further character seagrass beds, all the way from microbes to macrophytes.

You can read more about my various projects here.

I started this blog, sample(ECOLOGY), to share some of the thoughts, explorations, and R code that I stash away on a daily basis. Hopefully someone out there will find some use for it as well.

You can also follow me on Twitter

biodvI also helped co-found the blog BioDiverse Perspectives, meant to foster discussion among graduate students studying biodiversity science all over the world. While I’m scarce around those parts these days, its a great place to interact with fellow graduate students who are studying biodiversity science.

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