School of
Integrative Biology
James O'Dwyer

183 Morrill Hall
Office: 217-244-7086

Mail: 286 Morrill Hall, 505 S. Goodwin Ave, Urbana, IL 61801
Lab Page
Curriculum Vita

James O'Dwyer
Associate Professor, Director of Graduate Studies - Plant Biology


Ph.D., University of Cambridge
M.A.St., University of Cambridge
M.Sci., University of Durham

We work with theoretical models and a broad range of data to understand patterns of biodiversity, from tropical forests to host-associated microbial systems like the human microbiome

Ecological systems are the archetypal complex systems. They are typically heterogeneous, display non-equilibrium phenomena, are strongly interacting, noisy, and adapt over time. I bring together theory, experiment, and empirical data to try to understand how ecological processes drive the patterns of species and organisms we see in nature.

Some phenomena are almost universal across widely differing systems, which aids the prediction of patterns of biodiversity with limited knowledge of the underlying processes. Other patterns are highly contigent, providing important signatures of the differences between ecological systems. My research explores this tension, with the ultimate goal of establishing what are the key forces driving biodiversity across the globe.

Representative Publications

  • Sutton NM, O’Dwyer JP. (2018) Born to run? Quantifying the balance of prior bias and new information in prey escape decisions. Accepted at American Naturalist.