Peter J. Morin
Professor II
Director, Graduate Program in Ecology & Evolution

Address: 148 ENRS Building, Cook Campus

14 College Farm Road, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8551

Phone: (732) 932-3214 FAX: (732) 932-8746



Research Interests:

1) Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning

Much of our recent research has focused on relationships between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in natural and model communities. My laboratory uses microcosms containing microbes to test basic ideas about the role of different species in driving community and ecosystem processes. These studies include explorations of links between diversity and ecosystem predictability, and studies of effects of biodiversity on responses of ecosystems to gradual environmental change. Other studies have used assemblages of amphibians to directly examine the extent of functional equivalence in temporary pond communities.

2) Ecological Networks

Past research in my group has explored the consequences of food web structure for the population dynamics of component species, relations between productivity and food chain length, and effects of different top predators on food web composition.

3) Inducible Trophic Polymorphisms

New work in our group is examining the role of inducible trophic polymorphisms and intraguild predation in generating alternate community states. Related work is examining the population dynamics of protist species with inducible trophic polymorphisms, to understand how environmental variation is related to their expression, and to experimentally demonstrate the adaptive significance of these spectacular examples of phenotypic plasticity.

4) Community Ecology

I am generally interested in the roles of interspecific interactions and abiotic factors in producing patterns of species diversity and community composition. My textbook Community Ecology summarizes current views about the factors that structure communities. Topics of particular interest include the interactive effects of competition, predation, and the history of community assembly on patterns of species abundance in organisms including protists, insects, and amphibians. Other work is exploring the process of community assembly and the potential consequences of irreversible community changes for ecological restoration efforts.


Selected Publications:

1994. Kurzava, L. M., and Morin, P. J. Consequences and causes of geographic variation in the body size of a keystone predator, Notophthalmus viridescens . Oecologia 99: 271-280.

1995. Morin, P. J. Functional redundancy, nonadditive interactions, and supply-side dynamics in experimental pond communities. Ecology 76: 133-149.

1995. Morin, P. J. and S. P. Lawler. Food web architecture and population dynamics: theory and empirical evidence. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 26: 505-529.

1996. Morin, P. J. and S. P. Lawler. Effects of food chain length and omnivory on population dynamics in experimental food webs. Pages 218-230, in G. A. Polis and K. Winemiller (eds.), Food Webs: Integration of Patterns and Dynamics. Chapman & Hall.

1996. McGrady-Steed, J. and P. J. Morin. Experimental studies of disturbance and diversity in the microbial communities of rain pools. Oikos 76:93-102.

1997. McGrady-Steed, J., P. M. Harris, and P. J. Morin. 1997. Biodiversity regulates ecosystem predictability. Nature 390: 162-165.

1998. Kurzava, L.M. and P.J. Morin. Experimental tests of functional equivalence: Complementary roles of salamanders and fish in organizing amphibian assemblages. Ecology 79:477-489.

1998. Morin, P.J. Realism, precision, and generality in experimental tests of ecological theory. Pages 50-70 in W.J. Resetarits and J. Bernardo (eds). Issues and Perspectives in Experimental Ecology. Oxford University Press.

1998. Kaunzinger, C.M.K. and P.J. Morin. Productivity controls food-chain properties in microbial communities. Nature 395:495-497.

1999. Morin, P. J. Community Ecology. Blackwell Science, Inc. Malden, MA. 424 pages.

1999. Morin, P. J. Productivity, intraguild predation, and population dynamics in experimental food webs. Ecology 80: 752-760.

1999. Petchey, O. L., P. Timon McPhearson, T. M. Casey, & P. J. Morin. Environmental warming alters food web structure and ecosystem function. Nature 402:69-72.

2000. McGrady-Steed, J. and P. J. Morin. Biodiversity, density compensation and the dynamics of populations and functional groups. Ecology 81: 361-373.

2000. Morin, P. J. The complexity of co-dependency. Nature 403: 718-719. (News & Views).

2000. Morin, P. J. Biodiversity's ups and downs. Nature 406: 463-464. (News & Views).

2001. Fox, J. W. and P. J. Morin. Effects of intra- and interspecific interactions on species responses to environmental change. J. Anim. Ecology 70: 80-90.

2001. John N. Thompson , O. J. Reichman, Peter J. Morin, Gary A. Polis, Mary E. Power, Robert W. Sterner, Carol A. Couch, Laura Gough, Robert Holt, David U. Hooper, Felicia Keesing, Charles R. Lovell, Bruce T. Milne, Manuel C. Molles, David W. Roberts, and Sharon Y. Strauss. Frontiers of Ecology. Bioscience 51: 15-24.

2001. Hulot, F. D., P. J. Morin, & M. Loreau. Interactions between algae and the microbial loop in experimental microcosms. Oikos 95: 231-238.

2001. Long, Zachary T. and P. J. Morin. Review of Stability in Model Populations by L. D, Mueller and A. Joshi. Quarterly Review of Biology 76: 518.

2002. Mary L. Cadenasso, Steward T. A. Pickett & Peter J. Morin. Mammalian herbivore influence on old field succession: Community structure and seedling survival. J. Torrey Bot. Soc. 129(3): 228-237.

2002. Petchey, O. L., Morin, P. J., Hulot, F. D., Loreau, M., McGrady-Steed, J. and Naeem, S. 2002. Contributions of aquatic model systems to our understanding of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. - In: Loreau, M., Naeem, S. and Inchausti, P. (eds.), Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning: Syntheses and Perspectives. Oxford University Press, pp. 127-138.

2003. Morin, P. J. Community ecology and the genetics of interacting species. Ecology 84: 577-580.

2003. Fukami, T. and P. J. Morin. Productivity-biodiversity relationships depend on the history of community assembly. Nature 424:423-426.

2004. Paul Giller, Helmut Hillebrand, Ulrike-G. Berninger, Mark O. Gessner, Stephen Hawkins, Pablo Inchausti, Cheryl Inglis, Heather Leslie, Björn Malmqvist, Michael T. Monaghan, Peter J. Morin and Gregory O’Mullan. Biodiversity effects on ecosystem functioning: emerging issues and their experimental test in aquatic environments. Oikos 104:423-436.

2004. Morin, P. J. and J. McGrady-Steed. Biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in aquatic microbial systems: a new analysis of temporal variation and diversity-predictability relations. Oikos 104:458-466.

2004.  Price, J. E. and P. J. Morin. Colonization history determines alternate community states in a food web of intraguild predators. Ecology 85(4):1017-1028.

2004.  Lin Jiang and Peter J. Morin. Temperature-dependent interaction strength explains unexpected responses to environmental warming in competitive communities. Journal of Animal Ecology 73: 569-576.

2004.  Moore, J. C., E. L. Berlow, D. C. Coleman, P. C. Ruiter, Q. Dong, A. Hastings, N. C. Johnson, K. S. McCann, K. Melville, P. J. Morin, K. Nadelhoffer, A. D. Rosemond, D. M. Post, J. L. Sabo, K. M. Scow, M. J. Vanni, and D. H. Wall. Detritus, trophic dynamics and biodiversity. Ecology Letters 7:584-600.

2004.  Morin, P. J. and J. W. Fox. Diversity in the deep blue sea. Nature 429: 813-814. (News & Views).

2004.  Lin Jiang and Peter J. Morin. Productivity gradients cause positive diversity-invasibility relations in microbial communities. Ecology Letters  7: 1047-1057.

2005.  Lin Jiang and Peter J. Morin. Predator diet breadth influences the relative importance of bottom-up and top-down control of prey biomass and diversity. Am. Nat. 165: 350-363.

2005.  Steiner, C.,  Z. Long, J. Krumins, and P. Morin. Temporal stability of aquatic food webs: partitioning the effects of species diversity, species composition and enrichment. Ecology Letters 8: 819-828.

2005.  Zachary T. Long and Peter J. Morin. Effects of organism size and community composition on ecosystem functioning. Ecology Letters 8: 1271-1285.

2005.  Petchey, O. L., J. McGrady-Steed, and  P. J. Morin. Measuring the functional diversity of food webs. Pages 334-347, in P. C. de Ruiter, V. Walters, and J. C. Moore (eds.), Dynamic Food Webs- Multispecies assemblages, ecosystem development, and environmental change. Elsevier-Academic Press.

2005.  Morin, P. J.  Food Webs, Biodiversity, and Ecosystem Functioning. Pages 267-269, in P. C. de Ruiter, V. Walters, & J. C. Moore (eds.), Dynamic Food Webs- Multispecies assemblages, ecosystem development, and environmental change. Elsevier-Academic Press.

2006.  Jennifer B. Hughes Martiny, Brendan J.M. Bohannan, James H. Brown, Robert Colwell, Jed Fuhrman, Jessica Green, M. Claire Horner-Devine,Matthew Kane, Jennifer Adams Krumins, Cheryl R. Kuske, Peter Morin, Shahid Naeem, Lise øvreås, Anna-Louise Reysenbach, Val Smith, James Stale
y. Microbial biogeography: Putting microorganisms on the map. Nature Reviews Microbiology 4: 102-112.


My textbook, Community Ecology, can be obtained from the publisher, Blackwell Science .

Errata in the first printing are tabulated here. Please send information about errors to me at

Courses Taught:

Fall 2004: Seminar in Ecology 215:601

Fall 2005: Community Dynamics 215:565. Syllabus , Readings , Project Guidelines .

Spring 2005: Advanced Topics in Community Ecology 215:604. 

Spring 2006: Quantitative Ecology 215:575. Syllabus .


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