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Welcome to my research page! I study the ecology and evolution of species coexistence in spatially-structured landscapes – how historical abiotic environments, competitive interactions, and dispersal have shaped how species interact with each other and their environments, and the outcome of those interactions for the distribution of biodiversity. I am currently a Killam/Biodiversity Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of British Columbia’s Biodiversity Research Centre.

My specific goals fall into three areas:

  • metacommunity ecology, the scaling of ecological processes through space and time, and island biogeography in non-island systems
  • the ecology & evolution of bet-hedging strategies in variable environments, including maternal effects, dormancy, and dispersal
  • evolutionary divergence of competitive interactions among populations and species, their functional basis, outcomes for coexistence, and implications for understanding species invasions

Much of my research involves annual plants from mediterranean-climate regions, often in the serpentine meadows of Northern California at the UC McLaughlin Natural Reserve. Serpentine soils are formed by the emergence and erosion of the Earth’s mantle into isolated pockets scattered amongst a matrix of non-serpentine soil. The extreme physical and chemical characteristics of serpentine soils are typically harmful to plant life, yet in many regions, they support a unique and diverse flora of native species that have specialized to tolerate those harmful conditions. This and other features make serpentine-associated plant communities a unique model system for testing spatial questions relevant to coexistence and adaptation, as well as invasion biology and strategies for persistence in extreme variable environments.

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.


Manuscripts submitted or in revision (aka exciting things to come):

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

Germain, R. M., J. Williams, D. Schluter, and A. Angert. Moving character displacement beyond characters using contemporary coexistence theory. Manuscript submitted, Trends in Ecology and Evolution.

Guzman, L. M., R. M. Germain, P. Thompson, C. Forbes, D. Srivastava, and M. O’Connor. A trophic framework for metacommunity ecology. Presubmission inquiry accepted, manuscript in prep, Ecology Letters.


Germain, R. M., S. Y. Strauss, and B. Gilbert. Early View. Experimental dispersal reveals characteristic scales of biodiversity in a natural landscape. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Grainger, T. N., R. M. Germain, N. T. Jones, and B. Gilbert. 2017. Predation modifies regional constraints on species distributions in an insect metacommunity. Ecology 98:851-860

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