Life on Earth is incredibly diverse, represented by millions of distinct species and morphs. Yet in its diversity, that life is still organized according to general principles. We study these aspects of life in the fields of evolution and ecology respectively. While representing different concepts, ecology and evolution interact with each other in what G. Evelyn Hutchinson described as “The Ecological Theater and the Evolutionary Play”. I study this interplay, trying to understand the natural world through eco-evolutionary processes. Primarily, I use evolutionary game theory to model the origination, persistence, and extinction of species.
Game theory is as it is called: the study of games. And all games have four common features. They have (1) players who use (2) strategies to achieve a (3) objective which results in (4) a payoff. The nature of these might differ between games but their presence is consistent. These features are also present in the natural world. There are (1) individual organisms who use (2) their adaptations to (3) survive and reproduce so that they obtain (4) some degree fitness. As this game proceeds, individuals with better adaptations have greater fitness and reproduce more (ecology) and so those adaptations become more common (evolution). By containing both ecology and evolution, evolutionary game theory offers a mechanistic explanation for many eco-evolutionary processes and is able to simulate the natural world.
Besides evolutionary game theory, I am also interested in big observational data and small experiments. For the former, I have done biogeographical analysis of species distribution. For the latter, I am learning techniques in greenhouse experimentation.