Jesse R. Lasky

     Biodiversity, from gene to ecosystem

      RESEARCH            PUBLICATIONS            CV

Research overview

I study the forces that generate and maintain biodiversity, with a focus on spatial variation in high-dimensional systems. In particular, I study the drivers of genomic variation among populations and compositional variation among communities.

Similar questions, such as when environmental versus dispersal constraints are more important, challenge both evolutionary geneticists and ecologists. Answering these questions is essential for predicting biodiversity responses to global change.


Current Position

Postdoctoral Research Scientist - Uriarte lab, Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology, Columbia University


March 2015: I am in Puerto Rico doing field work at the Guánica dry forest, where María Uriarte established a 4-ha forest plot in 2012. I've been taking canopy photography using a miniature helicopter and measuring tree diameters on the plot. As you can see from the photo, it's a rough place to work (in all seriousness, Comocladia dodonaea is not nice to me). Our first paper from Guánica will be my study (to be presented at ESA in Baltimore) of the relationship between community phenological diversity, functional traits, and temporal variation in rainfall.

Guánica dry forest, Puerto Rico (Bosque Estatal de Guánica). Aerial photo (right) shows canopy, late dry season, from 30 m up.

February 2015: Ontogenetic shifts in trait-mediated community assembly! The Uriarte lab and collaborators have a new article using community-wide growth and mortality data from Luquillo LTER. Now in press at Ecology. pdf

December 2014: My proposed Organized Oral Session, "The effects of eco-evolutionary feedbacks on communities, ecosystems, and responses to environmental change", has been approved for ESA 2015 in Baltimore. Confirmed speakers include Joseph Bailey, Timothy Farkas, Regis Ferriere, Gregor Fussmann, Richard Gomulkiewicz, Jessica Hellmann, Jelena Pantel, Adam Rosenblatt.

August 2014: I presented at ESA on ontogenetic changes in trait-mediated community assembly. This was a lab project done by members of the Uriarte lab: Béné Bachelot, Bob Muscarella, and Naomi Schwartz, along with our collaborators Jimena Forero Montaña, Chris Nytch, Nate Swenson, Jill Thompson, and Jess Zimmerman. Look for the article version soon (hopefully).

June 2014: Now in press at Ecology Letters: our new paper on successional changes in biodiversity-ecosystem function relationships (BEF). Empirical BEF patterns often differ among studies; many of these differences may be caused by successional context. The new paper builds off our recent paper to ask how successional changes in community assembly lead to changes in BEF. *There is a minor corrigendum to this paper.

March 2014: The first paper from my work with María Uriarte, Robin Chazdon and Vanessa Boukili is now in press at PNAS. In it we link demographic evidence for trait-based species interactions to changes in community diversity across succession. More soon to come.
Photo at right: Successional rainforest plot in Costa Rica, study site of Robin Chazdon.
chazdon plot

November 2013: I had a great time giving a seminar and visiting the Dept. of Biology at Bowdoin College in Maine. Thanks for the invitation Sam Taylor.


September 2013: I am visiting SESYNC in Annapolis,
Maryland to participate in a working group on Macroevolution of Ecosystem Services from Trees

July 2013: I visited a number of European herbaria in order to investigate how spatiotemporal climate variation affects Arabidopsis thaliana

Photo at right: A. thaliana specimen collected in Lithuania.

June 2013: I talked about the role of trait-mediated processes in successional tree community assembly at ATBC in Costa Rica. This work was based on an NSF-funded collaboration involving María Uriarte here at Columbia and Robin Chazdon and her student Vanessa Boukili at UConn.

April 2013: I revisit the reserve size debate (SLOSS) in the context of spatial community turnover, in an article newly in press at The American Naturalist. I also presented about this research this month at the US-IALE (Landscape Ecology) meeting in Austin, TX.

March 2013: Our paper on trait-mediated environmental filtering in the subtropical rainforest at Fushan, Taiwan came out in the online early view of Journal of Ecology.


At Fushan with collaborator I-Fang Sun