Mark A. McPeek

Mark A. McPeek

David T. McLaughlin Distinguished Professor of Biological Sciences


B.S., University of Kentucky, 1982

M.S., University of Kentucky, 1984

Ph.D., Michigan State University, 1989

I am an ecologist and evolutionary biologist. I use both empirical and theoretical approaches to understand the ecological processes that determine the distributions and abundances of organisms today, and that shaped the adaptation and diversification of these organisms in the past. In these combined studies I try to integrate ideas, data and approaches from a number of disciplines, including population and community ecology, population genetics, molecular systematics, comparative biology, macroevolution and paleontology.

My specific focus is to understand how communities of organisms are assembled and structured across the landscape. We usually attempt to understand the structure of natural communities by studying the dynamics of multispecies interactions.  While the dynamics of multispecies interactions define the proximate mechanisms structuring species assemblages existing today, evolutionary and biogeographic processes operating in component taxa also substantially influence the assembly and organization of ecological communities.  I believe a complete understanding of the processes structuring communities requires the integration of mechanistic studies of species interactions to identify critical structural linkages and species dynamics, microevolutionary and macroevolutionary studies of component taxa to explore how community structure may have developed via taxon adaptation and diversification, and biogeographic studies of community structure to investigate how changes in major environmental parameters (e.g., climate, geology) can influence community development and organization.