Jonathan Myers

Jonathan Myers

​Associate Professor of Biology
Program Director, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
PhD, Louisiana State University
research interests:
  • Community Assembly from Local to Global Scales
  • Eco-Evolutionary Assembly of Biodiversity Hotspots
  • Biodiversity in Changing Environments
  • Species Pools, Species Traits & Biodiversity Change

contact info:

mailing address:

  • Washington University
    CB 1137
    One Brookings Drive
    St. Louis, MO 63130-4899

​Jonathan Myers's research group studies the causes of biodiversity at multiple scales, ranging from variation in the diversity of species' traits to gradients in the diversity and dynamics of ecological communities across the planet.

Changes in biodiversity through space and time are one of the most striking features of life on earth and have broad implications for human health, the production of renewable resources, and global climate regulation. I study patterns and causes of biodiversity at multiple scales, ranging from variation in the diversity of species’ traits to gradients in the assembly, diversity and dynamics of ecological communities across the planet. I explore theories to explain why changes in biodiversity through space and time emerge via the interplay of fundamental processes of community assembly (dispersal, ecological drift, niche selection & speciation). My research group focuses on four questions that integrate concepts from community ecology, biogeography and evolutionary biology, and plant functional ecology:

  • Community Assembly from Local to Global Scales: What processes determine community assembly across biodiversity gradients?
  • Eco-Evolutionary Assembly of Biodiversity Hotspots: How do species-rich communities and regional biotas assemble?
  • Biodiversity in Changing Environments: Why does environmental change alter biodiversity, biotic interactions, and ecological networks?
  • Species Pools, Species Traits & Biodiversity Change: How does regional biodiversity assemble into local communities in natural and human-modified landscapes?

We explore these questions using field experiments, large-scale and long-term observations, ecological modeling, and synthesis of biodiversity data from plant communities spanning temperate to tropical regions and natural to human-modified ecosystems. Our current study ecosystems include temperate plant and pollinator communities in North America (e.g., the Ozarks & Northern Rockies), sub-tropical savannas within the hyperdiverse and threatened longleaf pine ecosystem of the southeastern United States (e.g., Florida & Louisiana), tropical forests from the Amazon to the Andes (e.g., Bolivia), and a worldwide network of temperate and tropical forest-dynamics plots coordinated through the Smithsonian Center for Tropical Forest Science-Forest Global Earth Observatory (CTFS-ForestGEO). Our local field studies are based primarily at Tyson Research Center, Washington University's 800-ha environmental field station, located 25 miles (40 km) from St. Louis.

For more information, please visit our website:

Caption: Left – Low-diversity temperate tree community in the Ozarks (Tyson Research Center, Missouri). Right – High-diversity tropical tree community in western Amazonia (Los Amigos Biological Station, Peru). Our research group studies how the relative importance of eco-evolutionary processes varies across high- and low-diversity regions that comprise some of the most striking gradients in global biodiversity.

Selected Publications

Complete List of Publications: Google Scholar; Myers Lab Publications

Current and former members of my research group in bold

*Spasojevic, Marko J.Christopher P. CatanoJoseph A. LaManna Jonathan A. Myers. 2018. Integrating species traits into species pools. Ecology 99: 1265-1276. *Concepts & Synthesis Paper

*Catano, Christopher P., Timothy L. Dickson & Jonathan A. Myers. 2017. Dispersal and neutral sampling mediate contingent effects of disturbance on plant beta-diversity: A meta analysis. Ecology Letters 20: 347-356. *Cover article

LaManna, Joseph A., Scott A. Mangan, Alfonso Alonso, Norman A. Bourg, Warren Y.  Brockelman, Sarayudh Bunyavejchewin, Li-Wan Chang, Jyh-Min Chiang, George B. Chuyong, Keith Clay, Richard Condit, Susan Cordell, Stuart J. Davies, Tucker J. Furniss, Christian P. Giardina, I. A. U. Nimal Gunatilleke, C. V. Savitri Gunatilleke, Fangliang He, Robert W. Howe, Stephen P. Hubbell, Chang-Fu Hsieh, Faith M. Inman-Narahari, David Janík, Daniel J. Johnson, David Kenfack, Lisa Korte, Kamil Král, Andrew J. Larson, James A. Lutz, Sean M. McMahon, William J. McShea, Hervé R. Memiaghe, Anuttara Nathalang, Vojtech Novotny, Perry S. Ong, David A. Orwig, Rebecca Ostertag, Geoffrey G. Parker, Richard P. Phillips, Lawren Sack,

I-Fang Sun, J. Sebastián Tello, Duncan W. Thomas, Benjamin L. Turner, Dilys M. Vela Díaz, Tomáš Vrška, George D. Weiblen, Amy Wolf, Sandra Yap & Jonathan A. Myers. 2017. Plant diversity increases with the strength of negative density dependence at the global scale. Science 356: 1389-1392.

LaManna, Joseph A., R. Travis Belote, Laura A. Burkle, Christopher P. Catano & Jonathan A. Myers. 2017. Negative density dependence mediates biodiversity-productivity relationships across scales. Nature Ecology & Evolution 1: 1107-1115.

*Burkle, Laura A., Jonathan A. Myers & R. Travis Belote. 2016. The beta-diversity of species interactions: Untangling the drivers of geographic variation in plant-pollinator diversity and function across scales. American Journal of Botany 103: 118-28. *Invited paper for species issue: "Evolutionary Insights from Studies of Geographic Variation"

LaManna, Joseph A., Maranda L. Walton, Benjamin L. Turner & Jonathan A. Myers. 2016. Negative density dependence is stronger in resource-rich environments and diversifies communities when stronger for common but not rare species. Ecology Letters 19: 657-667.

*Myers, Jonathan A. & Joseph A. LaManna. 2016. The promise and pitfalls of beta-diversity in ecology and conservation. Journal of Vegetation Science 27: 1081-1083. *Invited commentary

Spasojevic, Marko J., Benjamin L. Turner & Jonathan A. Myers. 2016. When does intraspecific trait variation contribute to functional beta-diversity? Journal of Ecology 104: 487-496.    

*Myers, Jonathan A., Jonathan M. Chase, Raelene M. Crandall & Iván Jiménez. 2015. Disturbance alters beta-diversity but not the relative importance of community assembly mechanisms. Journal of Ecology 103: 1291-1299. *Cover article  

Tello, J. Sebastián, Jonathan A. Myers, Manuel J. Macía, Alfredo F. Fuentes, Leslie Cayola, Gabriel Arellano, M. Isabel Loza, Vania Torrez, Maritza Cornejo & Peter M. Jørgensen. 2015. Elevational gradients in beta-diversity reflect variation in the strength of local community assembly mechanisms across spatial scales. PLoS ONE 10: e0121458.

Anderson-Teixeira, Kristina J., et al. (108 total authors including Jonathan A. Myers). 2015. CTFS-ForestGEO: A worldwide network monitoring forests in an era of global change. Global Change Biology 21: 528-549.

Spasojevic, Marko J.Elizabeth A. Yablon, Brad Oberle & Jonathan A. Myers. 2014. Ontogenetic trait variation influences tree community assembly across environmental gradients. Ecosphere 5: article 129.

Myers, Jonathan A., Jonathan M. Chase, Iván Jiménez, Peter M. Jørgensen, Alejandro Araujo Murakami, Narel Paniagua-Zambrana & Renate Seidel. 2013. Beta-diversity in temperate and tropical forests reflects dissimilar mechanisms of community assembly. Ecology Letters 16: 151-157.

*Lessard Jean-Philippe, Jonathan Belmaker, Jonathan A. Myers, Jonathan M. Chase & Carsten Rahbek. 2012. Inferring local ecological processes amid species pool influences. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 27: 600-607. *Cover article

*Kraft, Nathan J.B., Liza S. Comita, Jonathan M. Chase, Nathan J. Sanders, Nathan G. Swenson, Thomas O. Crist, James C. Stegen, Mark Vellend, Brad Boyle, Marti J. Anderson, Howard V. Cornell, Kendi F. Davies, Amy L. Freestone, Brian D. Inouye, Susan P. Harrison & Jonathan A. Myers. 2011. Disentangling the drivers of β diversity along latitudinal and elevational gradients. Science 333: 1755-1758. *Cover article

*Chase, Jonathan M. & Jonathan A. Myers. 2011. Disentangling the importance of ecological niches from stochastic processes across scales. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 366: 2351-2363. *Invited paper for species issue: "Biogeography and Ecology: Two Views of One World"

Myers, Jonathan A. & Kyle E. Harms. 2011. Seed arrival and ecological filters interact to assemble high-diversity plant communities. Ecology 92: 676-686.

Myers, Jonathan A. & Kyle E. Harms. 2009. Seed arrival, ecological filters, and plant species richness: A meta-analysis. Ecology Letters 12: 1250-1260.

Myers, Jonathan A. & Kyle E. Harms. 2009. Local immigration, competition from dominant guilds, and the ecological assembly of high-diversity pine savannas. Ecology 90: 2745-2754.

Myers, Jonathan A. & Kaoru Kitajima. 2007. Carbohydrate storage enhances seedling shade and stress tolerance in a neotropical forest. Journal of Ecology 95:383-395.