To better address future national and international challenges in biology, EEOB at ISU focuses on three interdisciplinary research areas: Ecological Complexity, Comparative Diversity, and Integrative Genetics and Genomics. These modern, major research foci cut across the fields of ecology, evolution, and organismal biology, integrating analyses from the molecular level to the level of the biosphere.
Ecological complexity arises from the dynamic web of interactions operating among biological, chemical, and physical processes across a broad range of temporal and spatial scales. The study of these interactions and their impact on organisms is integral to the mission of EEOB and involves a range of collaborative, interdisciplinary approaches, and expertise across numerous organisms and multiple levels of organization.Primary strengths of the EEOB faculty in the area of ecological complexity include spatial and landscape interactions; ecology of conservation and restoration; and the effects of human activity on ecological systems.
Broadly defined, biodiversity encompasses the diversity of life at all levels, from genes to habitats, as well as individuals, populations, and species and their adaptations. The twin foundations of research in comparative biodiversity address ecological and evolutionary processes and patterns. Within EEOB, research approaches to comparative biodiversity are theoretical and empirical, the latter involving analyses and syntheses of both experimental data and observed patterns.
Primary strengths of the EEOB faculty in the area of comparative biodiversity include ecological and environmental physiology; life-history evolution; plant systematics; conservation biology; and phylogenetics of both plants and animals.
Integrative Genetics and Genomics
The area of integrative genetics and genomics focuses on understanding variation in genes and genomes and the consequences of that variation for diversification among individuals, populations, and species. EEOB addresses these issues primarily through the approaches of comparative evolutionary genetics, ecological genetics, and genomics. EEOB focuses on leveraging genomic databases within an evolutionary framework to better understand the functional, ecological, and evolutionary significance of genomic variation.
Primary strengths of the EEOB faculty in the area of integrative genetic and genomics include understanding molecular evolution and its impact on the incidence and flux of genetic and phenotypic variation within and among populations and species; comparative genomics and its relationship to evolutionary diversification; and analyzing changes in developmental mechanisms that have generated phenotypic diversity over evolutionary time.