C. E. Timothy Paine
I have two active axes of research. The first is predicting the dynamics of ecological communities through time and over environmental gradients. Given anthropogenic effects on ecosystems worldwide, this topic is relevant to conservation, restoration and ecological management. Improved predictive ability is also of great conceptual interest, yielding insight into how competing species coexist despite their apparent similarity. I approach it mechanistically, through demography, augmented by functional traits and physiological tolerances. I use coupled observations, field studies and manipulative experiments to estimate population growth rates and interaction coefficients and predict community dynamics into the future. Many tropical and subtropical plant communities of Australia would be amenable to such investigation.
The second is how scientific discoveries are transformed into peer-reviewed articles through the academic publishing system. All scientists interact with this system, and their success therein governs their career development, but it is rarely examined as a whole. I identify biases and limitations in academic publishing through detailed questionnaire-based studies and broader big-data approaches. This research is essential to ensure that publishing is as meritocratic as possible. Both axes of my research interests involve the extraction of pattern from large datasets, and as such, typically require substantial statistical analyses. More detail on the objectives. Some descriptive results are available.