The MARQUET LABI like to think of my lab as a non equilibrium system maintained by the flux of people, ideas and grant money. These three components depend upon each other to different degrees, and allow us to maintain our minds in an excited steady state giving raise to different dissipation channels or research programs. Here are some of the most prominent ones:
Back in 2002 I defined macroecology as a research program aimed at identifying “general principles or natural laws underlying the structure and function of ecological systems (see Marquet 2002), which are apparent in the patterns of distribution and abundance of entities composing these systems, no matter what the scale of the analysis. Macroecology analyses some of the same patterns as biogeography (for example, latitudinal patterns in species diversity), but its emphasis is not restricted to patterns apparent at large spatial scales, nor to contingent explanations. Thus, macroecology can be understood as an approach to the study of ecological systems centred on the search for general and invariant principles underlying their diversity and variability. It is neither biogeography nor a large-scale version of community ecology, but a new overall perspective on ecological complexity.” See some of the MarquetLab papers in this area (here)
One of the general principles underlying patterns and processes in macroecology is scaling and in particular the existence of multiples of 1/4 power law scaling and at the core of this is the metabolic scaling. The consequences of how biological entities (from cells to societies) use energy is paramount. Some of the questions we have explored in this research arena are related to species richness, food webs and metabolism. See some of the MarquetLab papers in this area (here)
Complexity is a crosscutting theme in my lab as ecological systems are paradigmatically complex. We have done a lot of theoretical work on different aspects of complexity; from spatially explicit models of populations and pattern formation (here) the formation of patterns to models on the emergence of diversity and neutrality. I would like to point out to my work with Juan Keymer and Miguel Fuentes (here) , which provides a good model for the emergence and maintenance of diversity in ecological systems now and at the beginning of life (The Big Biotic Bang), and which we have applied to understand neoplastic progression and the ecology of cancer tumors (here). Our work on network theory have focused upon metapopulations and metacommunity networks see for example (here) as well as in network reconstruction. More recently we have started to explore open system (i.e. stochastic) approaches to ecological networks.
Conservation and climate change
Another cross cutting themeat the MarquetLab is the conservation of ecological systems and more recently the impact of climate change upon ecosystem structure and functioning. I find it to be an ethical imperative to foster knowledge on the impact that our way of being in the world has on ecological systems and their components. Some of the papers of the MarquetLab on this area can be seen (here).
Here at the Marquet Lab we love theory.
Theory is free from the constraints that real systems have, it is transdisciplinary, and most of the time it is cheaper than carrying out experiments or field measurements. We do different kinds of theoretical work from metapopulation modelling to stochastic models of communities in a joint venture with physicists and mathematicians.
See some of the Marquet Lab theory papers (here).