Faculty Research Area: EEOB
Weakley, Alan S.
I am a plant systematist, plant community ecologist, biogeographer, and conservation biologist focused on the species and systems of the Southeastern United States. Students in my lab focus on the systematics and biogeography of the Southeastern United States, community classification developing the U.S. National Vegetation Classification, and land management, conservation planning, and environmental policy questions involving the conservation of Southeastern United States ecosystems and species. Prior to coming to UNC in 2002, I had an extensive career in applied conservation biology, working with the North Carolina Natural Heritage Program, The Nature Conservancy, and NatureServe (the Association for Biodiversity Information). My conservation interests and activities continue, with my service as Trustee of the N.C. Natural Heritage Trust Fund (http://www.ncnhtf.org/) from 2008-2013 (which has provided $328 million through 518 grants to support the conservation of more than 298,000 acres of natural areas in North Carolina), Chair of the N.C. Plant Conservation Program’s Scientific Advisory Committee (http://www.ncagr.gov/plantindustry/plant/plantconserve/index.htm), and Chair of the N.C. Natural Heritage Program Advisory Committee (http://www.ncnhp.org/). I am the author of Flora of the Southern & Mid-Atlantic States (http://www.herbarium.unc.edu/flora.htm), a taxonomic manual covering about 7000 vascular plant taxa, now the standard in use across much of the Southeastern United States. With J. Chris Ludwig and Johnny Townsend, I am co-author of the Flora of Virginia (http://www.floraofvirginia.org/), published in 2012 and awarded the Thomas Jefferson Award for Conservation, and am also an active author, editor, reviewer, and director of the Flora of North America project (http://fna.huh.harvard.edu/). I was a co-founder of the Carolina Vegetation Survey (http://cvs.bio.unc.edu/), and continue as one of its four organizers.
In the Hurlbert Lab we ask questions about the structure of ecological communities, and the processes that are responsible for determining the patterns of diversity, composition, turnover and relative abundance both within local assemblages and across the globe. Our work spans vertebrate, invertebrate, and plant communities, and we use a variety of approaches from manipulative experiments to modeling to working with global scale datasets. Current projects in the lab use
- large-scale citizen science datasets to quantify phenological mismatch between birds and caterpillars,
- simulation models to test hypotheses for the latitudinal diversity gradient, and
- eco-evolutionary experiments with Drosophila (with the Matute lab) to test ideas of thermal niche, competition, and niche conservatism.
“Ecological patterns, about which we construct theories, are only interesting if they are repeated. They may be repeated in space or in time, and they may be repeated from species to species. A pattern which has all of these kinds of repetition is of special interest because of its generality, and yet these very general events are only seen by ecologists with rather blurred vision. The very sharp-sighted always find discrepancies and are able to say that there is no generality, only a spectrum of special cases. This diversity of outlook has proved useful in every science, but it is nowhere more marked than in ecology.”
–Robert MacArthur, 1968
Wiley, R. Haven
My research has focused on field studies of complex social behavior by birds and other animals. Topics have included long-range vocal communication by temperate and tropical birds, vocal communication in noisy conditions (colonies, choruses, rainforests), sexual conflict and monogamy in territorial birds, sexual selection in polygynous mating systems and leks, site-specific dominance in wintering birds, and cooperative breeding in tropical wrens.
Continuing themes in all of these studies are age-dependent behavior, recognition of individuals, and impacts of noise on communication. My goal is to understand the complexity of animal social behavior … especially communication.
Facilities for this research include up-to-date equipment for recording, display, and synthesis of acoustic signals. My students, postdoctoral associates, and I have conducted field research both locally and far afield, including throughout the American tropics.
For more information, including publications, see http://rhwiley.bio.unc.edu.
Our research group is based in the Department of Biology at the The University at North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The research in our lab is focused on understanding and conserving the structure and dynamics of ocean ecosystems. We work in a variety of marine habitats including coral reefs, coastal wetland communities, oyster reefs and seagrass beds. Current projects include investigations of herbivory in the Galapagos Islands and Belize, the lionfish invasion of the Caribbean, patterns and dynamics of coral reef decline and recovery, the importance of predator biodiversity in estuarine food webs, salt marsh ecology and restoration, the effectiveness of tropical marine protected areas.
Make sure to visit our research blog, SeaMonster.
Lohmann, Kenneth J.
Our lab group is interested in the behavior, sensory biology, neuroethology, and conservation of marine animals. Topics of particular interest include: (1) the navigation of long-distance ocean migrants such as sea turtles, salmon, spiny lobsters, and elephant seals; (2) magnetic field perception, magnetic maps, and use of the Earth’s magnetic field in animal navigation; (3) natal homing and the geomagnetic imprinting hypothesis in sea turtles and salmon; (4) applications of sensory ecology and movement ecology to conservation biology; (5) neurobiology, behavior, and physiology of marine invertebrates; (6) marine ecosystems and animal health in the Galapagos Islands. Techniques used range from electron microscopy, immunohistochemistry, and electrophysiology to behavioral studies, oceanographic modeling, and field studies in the ocean. Whenever possible, we favor innovative approaches that cut across traditional academic boundaries and combine elements from disparate fields.
Our lab group is interested in the sensory biology, behavior, neuroethology, and evolution of marine animals. Topics of particular interest include: (1) the navigation of long-distance ocean migrants such as sea turtles, salmon, and spiny lobsters; (2) magnetic field perception, magnetic maps, and use of the Earth’s magnetic field in animal navigation; (3) natal homing and the geomagnetic imprinting hypothesis in sea turtles and salmon; (4) applications of sensory ecology and movement ecology to conservation biology; (5) neurobiology, behavior, and physiology of marine invertebrates; (6) technoethology (the use of novel computer and electronic technology to study behavior). Techniques used range from electron microscopy, immunohistochemistry, and electrophysiology to behavioral studies, oceanographic modeling, and field studies in the ocean. Whenever possible, we favor innovative approaches that cut across traditional academic boundaries and combine elements from disparate fields.
Sockman, Keith W.
Reproductive decisions are basic to all organisms. For species with multiple offspring and parental care, the decisions can be complex, but they still revolve around the same fundamental questions: when, where, and with whom to reproduce and how to invest in offspring. These decisions invariably have important life-history implications on future reproduction, on the offspring themselves, and on fitness.
Using birds, the Sockman lab studies the causes and consequences of reproductive decisions. Birds are an excellent system for this topic, because their decisions are often easy to observe and apply across a broad range of taxa and habitats. Follow the links above to learn more about our program or, if you are a prospective student, to learn about joining the lab.
If you want to list me as a reference or need a letter of recommendation, please use this guide from the UNC Biology Department website and include in your e-mail to me a PDF file of this document filled out and signed by you. Please see my laboratory website for other information.
Hedrick, Tyson L.
How do animals produce and control movement? How does a network of muscles, rigid elements and neurons – components of varying quality and with temporally varying responses – generate robust outputs in the face of uncertain circumstances? For example, the flight of the sphingid moth Manduca sexta is enabled by a complex, hierarchical biological system that involves processes and components at several different levels: the nervous system of the moth activates a suite of 20 flight muscles which actuate mechanical structures (the wings) that do work on the surrounding fluid (air), generating forces to support and propel the moth. These forces lead to changes in position and orientation which are detected by the sensory system and then used, along with underlying feedforward patterns as the basis for future muscle activation patterns, continuing the process and keeping the moth in the air.
Specific Areas of Research:
- Aerodynamics of bird and insect flight
- Neuromuscular and sensory control in animal flight
- Computational approaches to organismal biomechanics
I apply both experimental and computational modeling approaches to these questions, iterating between the two approaches. For example, the figure below shows the wingbeat to wingbeat variation in wing motion during stable hovering flight for both a real moth and a computational model of the moth. In both the model and organism, steady flight behaviour requires continuous slight adjustments.
In addition to investigating the underlying variation of steady locomotion, I also make direct measurements from animals engaged in maneuvering or other unsteady movements. Figure 2 (below) outlines the basis of roll damping in the flapping flight of birds. Surprisingly high roll damping coefficients allow birds to control roll orientation with simple changes in wingbeat amplitude and passively dissipate roll velocity once symmetric flapping resumes.