Welcome to my research page! I am a PhD student in Ben Gilbert’s lab at the University of Toronto and soon-to-be Killam/Biodiversity Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of British Colombia. My interests lie broadly in the realm of community ecology, where I use a mix of lab, field, and greenhouse work to test questions relating to species coexistence and assembly.

My dissertation focuses on testing phylogeny-coexistence relationships in Mediterranean annual plant communities, using experiments to disentangle the role of species differences, environment, and biogeography. I aim to advance the field by providing a more mechanistic perspective of how phylogenetic patterns are generated in nature.

My most recent exploits have brought me to serpentine meadows in Northern California, as part of a collaborative project with Sharon Strauss at UC Davis. In the serpentine system, I used a gas-powered leaf vacuum to manipulate plant species pools at different spatial scales (fig. 1) to identify the scaling of ecological processes that underlie diversity.

Fig. 1 Serpentine plot surveys

Fig. 1 Serpentine plot surveys

While you’re here, please check out my Talks and Posters section, where I have uploaded a number of recent presentations to an interactive slideshare program.

Publications completed or submitted:

Germain, R. M., S. Y. Strauss, and B. Gilbert. The spatial scaling of plant diversity and its ecological determinants in a global biodiversity hotspot. To be submitted to PNAS in like a week!

Grainger, T. N., R. M. Germain, N. T. Jones, and B. Gilbert. Predation modifies regional constraints on species distributions in an insect metacommunity. Submitted to Ecology.

Germain, R. M., T. N. Grainger, N. T. Jones, and B. Gilbert. In revision for American Naturalist. Frequency-dependent maternal effects across species and environments.

Germain, R. M., J. T. Weir, and B. Gilbert. 2016. Species coexistence: macroevolutionary patterns and the contingency of historical interactions. Proceedings of the Royal Society: B 283:20160047

Jones, N. T., R. M. Germain, T. N. Grainger, A. Hall, L. Baldwin, and B. Gilbert. 2015. Dispersal mode mediates the effect of patch size and patch connectivity on metacommunity diversity. Journal of Ecology 103:935-944.

Germain, R. M. and B. Gilbert. 2014. Hidden responses to environmental variation: maternal effects reveal species niche dimensions. Ecology Letters 17:662-669.

Germain, R. M., J. Johnson, S. Schneider, K. Cottenie, Elizabeth A. Gillis, and A. S. MacDougall. 2013. Spatial variability in plant predation determines the strength of stochastic community assembly. American Naturalist 182:169-179.

Germain, R. M., C. M. Caruso, and H. Maherali. 2013. Mechanisms and consequences of water stress-induced parental effects in an invasive annual grass. International Journal of Plant Sciences 174:886-895.

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August 4, 2013 · 5:45 pm