Evolutionary Ecology

Eco-evolutionary dynamics
Natural selection and genetic variation can have profound effects on the dynamics of
populations, but the ramifications have just barely been explroed. We are currently doing this
with projects focused on long-lived plants and fungi. We are also interested in studying how
eco-evolutionary feedbacks impact life histories, and ecosystem properties.

Senescence in plants and fungi
Do all organisms deteriorate with age? The evidence is equivocal. A significant portion of
our recent research effort is aimed at understanding ageing in long-lived plants and fungi.
See our efforts in the popular science press

The evolution of sprouting and flowering
If plants need to sprout to produce energy and reproduce, then why do so many plants
remain underground without any aboveground sprouts for years at a time? We are working
on solutions to this important problem. Our efforts have been in
major science blogs.

Macroevolution of broad interactions
Is there an evolutionary pattern to generalist associations between different species? We
are testing the role of evolutionary history in determining interaction breadth, using the
orchid mycorrhiza as a case study.

Microevolution of symbioses in long-lived species
Could symbioses by adaptive because they buffer against harsh times? We are using
in situ experimentaion to test the impacts of symbioses on the long-term
demography of interacting organisms, using rare forest orchids as the study system.

Here are some informational pages on a few of the specific topics that we cover:

Eco-evolutionary dynamics

Vegetative dormancy in long-lived plants

Evolutionary context of reproductive schedules

Mycorrhizal symbiosis and coevolution

Evolution of senescence

Evolution of complex life histories

Demographic estimation methods

Macroevolution in plants and fungi

Soil microbial feedbacks on plant communities
Copyright 2015 Richard P. Shefferson.  All rights reserved.
Research Interests