The Laboratory of Coevolutionary Biology

The earth has millions of species. Greya politella pollinating Lithophragma bolanderi

Coevolution organizes these species into complex webs: 

predators and prey, hosts and parasites, competitors, and mutualists.

The result is what Darwin called the Entangled Bank. 

Others call it the Web of Life. 

Our research goal: 

How and why has the web of life become so entangled?

Geographic mosaic of coevolutionWe study these questions:

How does coevolution shape species interactions across space and time?

What ecological and genetic conditions allow interactions to persist?

How does coevolution shape webs of interacting species?

Relentless Evolution (2013):

Thompson, J. N. 2014. Relentless Evolution. University of Chicago Press, Chicago


Why do species evolve relentlessly, even when they seem fairly well adapted to their environments?

Over how short a time scale can we see species, and interactions among species, evolving in nature? 



The Geographic Mosaic of Coevolution (2005):

Thompson, J. N. 2005. The geographic mosaic of coevolution. University of Chicago Press, Chicago


How does coevolution shape interactions among species that are distributed across ecosystems, regions, and continents? 

Why does the geographic mosaic of coevolution differ among different forms of interaction -- e.g., mutualistic interactions, competitors, parasites and hosts? 


The Coevolutionary Process (1994):

Thompson, J. N. 1994. The Coevolutionary Process, University of Chicago Press, Chicago

Why does natural selection favor some species that interact with only a few species and other species that interact with many species? 

Why do interactions among species evolve, and sometimes coevolve, in different ways in different environments? 

How does the history of evolutionary ecology and coevolutionary biology help us understand our current hypotheses and predictions?

Interaction and Coevolution (1982; reissued 2014):

Thompson, J. N. 1982 (2014). Interaction and Coevolution. University of Chicago Press, Chicago


Why does natural selection act differently on different forms of interaction among species?

Can we develop general principles about the coevolutionary process?