Community Assembly

Traditional models in community ecology study the interaction of two or three species fixed by the modeler. Real communities consist of tens to hundreds of species chosen out of an even larger pool of potentially coexisting species. One could scale up the traditional models by simply increasing the number of species considered, but the number of parameters defining the species would grow too large to be manageable. One way out of this problem is to define species by their ecologically-relevant traits. We are developing such trait-based models and using techniques from evolutionary game theory (adaptive dynamics) to analyze them. We will parameterize the models with physiological trade-offs determined in the lab and test the model predictions with community data gathered from a range of lakes across the US.

Read more about our project here.


Lab members

Christopher Klausmeier, Elena Litchman, Kohei Yoshiyama and Maayke Stomp


Litchman, E., C.A. Klausmeier and K. Yoshiyama. 2009. Contrasting size evolution in marine and freshwater diatoms. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 106: 2665-2670.


Litchman, E. and C.A. Klausmeier. 2008. Trait-based community ecology of phytoplankton. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 39: 615-639.


Litchman, E., C.A. Klausmeier, O.M. Schofield and P.G. Falkowski. 2007. The role of functional traits and trade-offs in structuring phytoplankton communities: scaling from cellular to ecosystem level. Ecology Letters 10: 1170-1181. e-mail for reprint.


Litchman, E. Resource competition and the ecological success of phytoplankton. 2007. In: Evolution of Primary Producers in the Sea, Eds. P.G. Falkowski and A.H. Knoll. pp. 351-375. Academic Press.


Financial Support

Klausmeier, C.A., and E. Litchman. 2005-2010. Plankton Community Assembly: Theory and Practice. James S. McDonnell Foundation

Last updated: March 13, 2009