Welcome to the BEAST Lab. Our mission is to understand how biodiversity responds to global change, from moments to millennia.
Climate change, land use, and extinction are challenges for managing life on Earth, but are also opportunities to understand the fundamental processes driving biodiversity. The Earth is our laboratory, from the natural experiments of the geologic past to the challenges facing today’s ecosystems. Our research spans systems and organisms, from lakes to permafrost, islands to mountaintops, and mammoths to penguins. We research the dynamic distributions and interactions of plants, animals, humans, and environments, using the fossil record, models, and field experiments. Our goal is to inform ecology, conservation, and management, using the lens of the past.
We believe science is for everyone. To that end, we are committed to fostering an inclusive environment for research, learning, and teaching, and are actively working on ourselves and our communities towards the goals of fairness, justice, inclusion, and accessibility in STEM. We support science outreach and communication, open science, non-academic careers, non-traditional pathways, and building long-term partnerships with local communities.
In the BEAST Lab, we work on a range of fundamental and applied questions at the intersection of earth science, ecology, and conservation, with an emphasis on biotic interactions, extinction, range dynamics, and anthropogenic natures. Current research includes 1) the consequences of Pleistocene megafaunal extinctions, 2) the resilience of alpine “sky island” plant communities to climate change, 3) the prehistory of Indigenous fire management, 4) climate change impacts on food webs, 5) early human impacts on islands, 6) the puzzling success of ferns following the Chixulub impact, and 7) the temporal dynamics of ecological communities. Our work seeks to inform theories in ecology and biogeography, as well as emerging, and often controversial, conservation methods like managed relocation, rewilding, de-extinction, and the use of geological surrogates for biodiversity (“conserving nature’s stage”).
You can also read a summary of our research in a nutshell, using only the 1000 most common words in the English language, here.