James O'Dwyer

Assistant Professor
Department of Plant Biology


Ph.D., University of Cambridge
M.A.St., University of Cambridge
M.Sci., University of Durham


To be decided


Ecological systems are the archetypal complex systems. They are typically heterogeneous, display non-equilibrium phenomena, are strongly interacting, noisy, and adapt over time. I bring together theory, experiment, and empirical data to try to understand how ecological processes drive the patterns of species and organisms we see in nature.


Some phenomena are almost universal across widely differing systems, which aids the prediction of patterns of biodiversity with limited knowledge of the underlying processes. Other patterns are highly contigent, providing important signatures of the differences between ecological systems. My research explores this tension, with the ultimate goal of establishing what are the key forces driving biodiversity across the globe.


O'Dwyer JP, Kembel SW & Green JL (2012) Phylogenetic Diversity Theory Sheds Light on the Structure of Complex Microbial Communities. PLoS Computational Biology 8(12): e1002832.

O'Dwyer JP (2012) The Dynamics of Adapting,Unregulated Populations and a Generalized Fundamental Theorem. Journal of the Royal Society Interface 10:538-547.

O'Dwyer JP & Green JL (2010) Field theory for biogeography: a spatially-explicit model for predicting patterns of biodiversity. Ecology Letters 13: 87-95.

O'Dwyer JP, Lake JK, Ostling A, Savage VM & Green JL (2009) An integrative framework for stochastic, size-structured community assembly. Proc Natl Acad Sci 106:6170-6175.