All trees of a forest, not some trees in all forests

I’ve always assumed that an evolutionary biologist is also an ecologist, and that an ecologist must also be an evolutionary biologist. But after working in the Weiblen Lab and at the NMNH Botany department, I began to wonder if this was true. Ecologists didn’t seem to think of their systems as products of evolution, and botanists didn’t seem to think much of the ecological processes driving evolution in their groups. (Obviously, this is a gross and perhaps unjust simplification of what is actually going on, but bear with me).

This left me confused. I knew I liked forests, but I felt the pressure to choose between studying them as an ecologist or an evolutionary biologist. As an ecologist, I could focus on the “forest” scale; as an evolutionary biologist, on the “clade” scale. I wasn’t satisfied with this. But what if I study a clade as residents of a forest? Evolution happens within a clade, but the drivers of evolution can be ecological and cross clade boundaries. So that’s what I hope to work on. Study evolution of a few trees, but in the context of the trees that grow with them. Stay posted on how I go about doing this…

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