Rafael D'Andrea, Assistant Professor
University of Michigan, 2016
Community ecology, Theoretical ecology, Species coexistence
Lab Website: D'Andrea Lab Website
I received my PhD in ecology and evolutionary biology from the University of Michigan in 2016, following a Master's degree in physics from SBU in 2010. As a community ecologist, I am interested in how ecological forces create order in complex ecosystems. I focus on the key mechanisms behind species coexistence in highly biodiverse communities: How do deterministic and stochastic ecological forces such as competition, environmental filters, and random sorting, influence which species get to coexist and how abundant they are? Conversely, what can our observations of specific combinations of species and their traits tell us about the driving forces underlying ecological dynamics? As a theoretician bent on grounding theory in biological realism, I seek to answer these questions using a combination of mathematical analysis and computer simulations, often in collaboration with colleagues with natural history expertise ranging from tropical forests to microbial communities.
My new lab at Stony Brook will focus on advancing ecological theory linking community assembly processes to macroecological patterns, and confronting this theoretical framework with data. This research program is especially aimed at high-diversity systems such as tropical forests, where we need to better understand how stochastic forces and deterministic forces interact to shape communities and maintain biodiversity.