In the Hurlbert Lab we ask questions about the structure of ecological communities, and the processes that are responsible for determining the patterns of diversity, composition, turnover and relative abundance both within local assemblages and across the globe. Our work spans vertebrate, invertebrate, and plant communities, and we use a variety of approaches from manipulative experiments to modeling to working with global scale datasets.


Lab News

June 2018

* Allen heads to the sDiv working group meeting on understanding latitudinal diversity gradients in Leipzig, Germany.

* Sara Taylor leads a paper on the prevalence of transient species in ecological communities out early at Ecology!

* The Hurlbert Lab gave two Caterpillars Count! training workshops at Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary in MA and Kalamazoo Nature Center in MI. We look forward to seeing data from all of the new monitoring sites that are springing up around the country!

January 2018

* We've just launched the new website of our citizen science project Caterpillars Count!, and are actively seeking new environmental education and nature centers to participate. See this doc for more info!

June 2017

* We've been funded together with the labs of Morgan Tingley, Leslie Ries, Rob Guralnick and others to investigate phenological mismatch across birds, arthropods, and veg! Finally we will be able to expand and improve upon our Caterpillars Count! citizen science program!

* The Hurlbert and Matute Labs will be embarking on some cool macroecology, macroevolution, and experimental evolution work testing the tropical niche conservatism hypothesis in Drosophila, thanks to funding from NSF's Dimensions of Biodiversity!

* Former PhD student Brian Evans gets another dissertation chapter published: Dispersal in the urban matrix: assessing the influence of landscape permeability on the settlement patterns of breeding songbirds!

January 2017

* Allen gets snowbound in Chapel Hill while Robbie Burger and Sara Snell make it out to give talks at the International Biogeography Society meeting in Tucson.

September 2016

* Former postdoc James Stegen heads a paper on "Aligning the measurement of microbial diversity with macroecological theory", just out in Frontiers in Microbiology.

August 2016

* Sara Snell presents a sweet poster on her research at ESA in muggy Ft. Lauderdale.

* Allen presents in the Big Data Ornithology symposium at the North American Ornithologists' Union in Washington DC.

Summer 2016

* Tara McKinnon got a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship to conduct research in the Hurlbert Lab this summer, including helping with our Caterpillars Count! citizen science project!

January 2016

* Allen attends the ASN Asilomar meeting, and proclaims "saturated" diversity models not dead yet!

* Postdoc Robbie Burger and colleagues have a paper in PNAS on metabolic heat production and thermal conductance in birds and mammals!

* Jes's dissertation chapter on the determinants of lichen species richness at local and regional scales is online early at GEB!

November 2015

* Another stellar dissertation defense by Jes Coyle! Go Hurlbert Lab!

October 2015

* Big congrats to Brian Evans for his excellent dissertation defense! Setting the bar high!

August 2015

* Excited to kick off a new school year with incoming grad students Molly Gartland and Sara Snell, and new postdoc Robbie Burger!

June 2015

* Brian Evans' paper on avian survival along an urban-to-rural gradient is out in this month's Ecology!

May 2015

* Fieldwork monitoring avian resource phenology is underway, along with a trial of our new citizen science project Caterpillars Count! Hopefully the website will have greater functionality soon.

March 2015

* Last January's ASN debate was a blast. Now Allen and Dan Rabosky's paper arguing for equilibrial diversity dynamics is out early at Am Nat!

November 2014

* Allen and former postdoc James Stegen have a new paper on using eco-evolutionary simulation models to make inferences about diversity patterns.

* Check out this great blog post by Chris Goforth from the NC Museum of Natural Sciences' Prairie Ridge Ecostation on how we've been developing a new citizen science project for monitoring bird food!

October 2014

* Brian Evans gets his first dissertation chapter on avian survival along a rural-to-urban gradient accepted at Ecology!

* Former undergrad Spencer Scheidt has his senior thesis on population dynamics of the invasive Eurasian Collared-Dove published in PLoS ONE!

August 2014

* Allen gives a talk at the Program on Mathematical and Statistical Ecology run by SAMSI.

* The UNC Dimensions of Biodiversity group's paper testing the stress-dominance hypothesis is Editor's Choice in Ecography.

July 2014

* An amazing Gordon Research Conference on 'Unifying Ecology Across Scales'. Jes delivers a great talk and poster and is elected to organize the next Graduate Research Symposium in 2016. Allen talks about biodiversity and elephants (preprint here!), and solicits feedback via an interactive poster!

June 2014

* Allen attends the Evolution meetings for the first time. His presentation is here!

* Allen has a new paper with Frank La Sorte and Morgan Tingley on within-year temporal turnover in bird communities using eBird!

March 2014

* Jes Coyle gets an NSF DDIG! And a grant from Highlands Biological Station! You rock Jes!

* Allen gives a talk at the ECU Symposium on the Influence of Climate Change on Biodiversity

* Ben gets an NSF graduate research fellowship! Well done!

February 2014

* Allen and the UNC Dimensions of Biodiversity group get their graduate seminar project published in Ecography.

* Allen gives a seminar at the Duke University Program in Ecology.

January 2014

* Allen and Dan Rabosky debate Susan Harrison and Luke Harmon regarding the importance of ecological limits in species richness patterns at the American Society of Naturalists meeting in Asilomar, CA.

December 2013

* Allen and former postdoc James Stegen have an Ideas & Perspectives piece on energy limitation of species richness accepted at Ecology Letters!

November 2013

* Allen and Ethan White were just recommended for NSF funding for examining the distinction between core and transient species in driving richness patterns!

August 2013

* The Hurlbert Lab is excited to host three visitors from Weecology at UNC for this academic year: Ethan White, Morgan Ernest, and Morgan's grad student Erica Christensen. Let the macroecology fly!

July 2013

* Ben Morris gets a NESCent graduate fellowship! Well done Ben!

May 2013

* Jes Coyle takes 3rd place in the UNC Art of Science Competition--a true artiste!.

* Ben Morris gets a software paper on the EcoData Retriever accepted at PLoS ONE!.

March 2013

* Jes Coyle, Ethan White, and I have a cool new paper on core versus transient species online early at The American Naturalist. See the blurb here.

February 2013

* Allen speaks to the Chapel Hill Bird Club about patterns of avian biodiversity.

January 2013

* Allen speaks to the New Hope Audubon Society about large-scale lessons from citizen science.

December 2012

* Katie Becraft gives an excellent thesis defense on her research on the foraging behavior and niche shifts of three foliage gleaning birds in the southern Appalachians. And she landed a job with the Nature Conservancy to boot! We'll miss her!

* Jes, Allen and friend of the lab Ethan finally get their paper on core vs transient bird species accepted at The American Naturalist!

October 2012

* Allen visits the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology to visit the folks who do cool things like this.

* How many of you can say your first publication was on killer whales? Jes can!

* Rounding out a fine month for the Hurlbert Lab, Ben gets his first publication accepted as well!

August 2012

* The Hurlbert Lab welcomes Ben Morris, new PhD student, who comes to us from the Weecology Group at Utah State. Glad to have you, Ben!

* Allen presents at ESA in Portland, and several Dimensions of Biodiversity students gave some great talks. A lesser known Hurlbert also makes his first ESA appearance in years.

June 2012

* Allen pays respects to Jim Brown at his retirement symposium in New Mexico (in collaboration with Ethan White).

May 2012

* Allen talks about bird migration on WAMC's The Academic Minute.

April 2012

* Spencer received Highest Honors for his thesis on the spread of the Eurasian Collared-Dove, as well as the department's Coker Award for demonstrating the highest ideals of scholarship and research.

* Katie received a Martina Wadewitz Haggard Memorial Scholarship for her field work out of Highlands Biological Station.

March 2012

* Allen and Jes and two other UNC grad students return from another stimulating Dimensions of Biodiversity meeting, this time in beautiful Friday Harbor.

* Allen and Lily's research featured in Endeavors magazine!

February 2012

* Allen and former undergrad Lily Liang have a paper on shifts in avian migration phenology out at PLoS ONE! The work was featured briefly on local NPR affiliate WUNC, and in more depth on the Canadian public radio show The Current. See also this piece in the Daily Tar Heel and this on the eBird website!

January 2012

* Allen and fellow UNC prof Lauren Buckley have a new paper online at GEB comparing macroecological patterns of endotherms and ectotherms!

* Former post-doc James Stegen has a NCEAS working group paper on beta-diversity in North American birds accepted at GEB!

December 2011

* Allen, James, and Craig McClain of NESCent fame have a paper on beta-diversity of deep sea bivalves accepted at Proc Roy Soc B! That's a new biome represented in work from the Hurlbert Lab! See Craig's blog post about it here.

November 2011

* Allen and Jes return from a productive Dimensions of Biodiversity graduate seminar meeting in Washington state

October 2011

* Even carving pumpkins, Allen is a nerd

* Congrats to Brian for passing his orals!



"Ecological patterns, about which we construct theories, are only interesting if they are repeated. They may be repeated in space or in time, and they may be repeated from species to species. A pattern which has all of these kinds of repetition is of special interest because of its generality, and yet these very general events are only seen by ecologists with rather blurred vision. The very sharp-sighted always find discrepancies and are able to say that there is no generality, only a spectrum of special cases. This diversity of outlook has proved useful in every science, but it is nowhere more marked than in ecology."     --Robert MacArthur, 1968