More than a hundred years before it had a name, Linnaeus founded the discipline we now call “Ecology” as the “the economy of nature”. If nature is an economy, then surely its currency is energy. Every one of the diverse forms and functions living organisms use to survive, grow and reproduce, share a common feature: they require energy. My research aims to understand the rules that govern the flow of energy through individuals, populations and communities.
My research is often motivated by applied ecological challenges, for example predicting how populations will respond to toxic stress, or the impact of global warming or various river management strategies on pacific salmon populations. Although I begin my research with application in mind, I try to use methods and models to generalize as much as possible.
Much of my work has used Dynamic Energy Budget theory to link individual patterns of energy acquisition and allocation to dynamics at the population level. To facilitate use of Dynamic Energy Budget theory in an population modeling context I along with several collaborators developed DEB-IBM. DEB-IBM is an individual-based implementation of Dynamic Energy Budget theory in Netlogo, a free and accessible programmable modeling environment for multi-agent simulations. We have since used DEB-IBM to explore both basic and applied questions in population ecology.