F. Andrew Jones
Ph.D. 2004, University of Georgia
Office: Cordley 2070
Molecular ecology, population ecology, community ecology, tropical ecology.
Description of Research
I am interested in the ecological and evolutionary mechanisms responsible for the origin and maintenance of plant biodiversity. Research in my lab is focused on understanding the processes that generate and maintain diversity across large and small temporal and spatial scales. A common theme in my research is that I combine field data with population genetic and genomic data and statistical modeling to understand the drivers of species and genetic diversity within communities. Several interests and current projects are described below.
1) Intraspecific variation in drought responses of tropical trees – implications for species distribution under climatic change.
Tropical forests harbor the majority of the Earth’s terrestrial biological diversity and provide humans with valuable products and ecosystem services. Rainfall is generally high in tropical forests, but at the same time, most tropical forests experience one or two dry seasons per year. As a result of climate change, pronounced shifts in dry season length and intensity are predicted for tropical forests. During dry periods tropical trees and their seedlings generally have lower growth and survival, but species vary in how strongly they are impacted by drought. Such differences within species may be due to genetic factors after long-term evolutionary adaptation to different sites, or it can be due to short-term plasticity in responses to environmental factors. How strongly populations within tree species vary in their drought responses, and to what extent that variation is influenced by genetic or environmental factors, will play a large role in determining how species will respond to climate change. However, to date we know virtually nothing about differences in drought responses within tropical tree species.
The aim of this research project therefore is to assess how much drought responses vary within tropical tree species, how strongly that variation is determined by genetic or environmental factors, and what plant traits drive differences in drought responses. The research will take place across a strong rainfall gradient in Panama, and will combine field experiments measuring growth and survival of transplanted seedlings in different forests with physiological measurements and genetic analyses. This NSF funded project (DEB 1257976) is in collaboration with Drs. Liza Comita (Ohio State) and Bettina Engelbrecht (U. Bayeruth). Opportunities for students are available in the field and lab, including bioinformatics projects. Contact Andy for more information.
2) Patterns and mechanisms of below ground community assembly in a tropical forest. This project seeks to develop a comprehensive understanding the role of abiotic and biotic processes structuring below ground plant communities and the implications this has for species coexistence and maintenance of biological diversity. In the past year, our research team has generated DNA barcode sequence data across a large number of soil and fine root samples taken from a large forest inventory plot on Barro Colorado Island, Panama. Each sample will be coupled to soil macro and micronutrients. The project is a collaboration between Andy, Brant Faircloth (UCLA), Steve Hubbell (UCLA), Ph.D. student Jeff Wolf (UCLA), and Ben Turner (STRI). We are looking to expand the sampling already done and apply this to other systems. Opportunities for students are available in the field and lab, including bioinformatics projects. Contact Andy for more information.
3) Landscape patterns of genetic structure and gene flow in the tropical herb Heliconia. A new collaboration will examine the impact of forest fragmentation and hummingbird pollinator behavior on gene flow in a common tropical herb, Heliconia, across a fragmented forest landscape near Las Cruces station, an OTS site in Costa Rica. The project is in collaboration with Matt Betts (Oregon State) and Doug Robinson (Oregon State).
Research Group Members
I am excited about recruiting enthusiastic and independent students who want to apply cutting edge genomic tools within natural populations to understand the origin and maintenance of biological diversity in tropical or temperate ecosystems. Prospective students are encouraged to contact Andy directly to discuss their research interests and opportunities at OSU. Please include a CV and a short description of your research experience and interests.
Zolton Bair (rotating, PhD due 2016)
Jessica Celis (MS, due 2015)
Dr. Jones is Research Associate at the
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute