Dr. Peter Chesson

Positions and Education: 
  • 2005-present  Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Arizona.
  • 1999-2005 Professor, Section of Evolution and Ecology, University of California, Davis
  • 1998-1999 Associate Professor, University of California, Davis.
  • 1990-1997 Senior Fellow, Research School of Biological Sciences, Australian National University.
  • 1985-90 Associate Professor of Zoology, Botany and Statistics, Ohio State University.
  • 1981-5 Assistant Professor of Zoology, Ohio State University.
  • 1977-81 Postgraduate Research Biologist, University of California, Santa Barbara.
  • 1974 B.Sc.(Hons). University of Adelaide, Australia
  • 1978 Ph.D. (Departments of Statistics and Zoology). University of Adelaide, Australia
  • 1998- Board of Editors, Evolutionary Ecology Research
  • 1996-8 Board of Editors, Evolutionary Ecology
  • 1990-1995 Associate Editor, American Naturalist
  • 1987- Editor, Theoretical Population Biology.
  • 1983-6 Board of Editors, Ecological Society of America.
Honors and Awards: 
  • 1973 Sir Ronald Fisher Memorial Scholarship in Mathematical Statistics
  • 1974 CSIRO Postgraduate Studentship
  • 1977 CSIRO Postdoctoral Studentship
  • 1987 Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • 2005 Outstanding Mentor, Consortium for Women and Reseach, University of California, Davis
Research Interests: 

Peter Chesson's research questions primarily concern how the adaptations of organisms to variable environments promote species diversity and affect ecosystem functioning. He investigates these questions using mathematical models and experiments in natural systems. Recent research topics have involved neighborhood competition, community assembly, invasion resistance, life-history evolution, temporal and spatial niches in their various forms, and multitrophic diversity maintenance. In addition, he is involved with field projects on annual plants in Arizona, Australia and California, and has studied herbaceous perennial plants in Australia. Major thrusts at the present time are the development of the methodology for field testing hypotheses on diversity maintenance, putting foodwebs into diversity maintenance theory, and testing and developing invasion theory.

Selected Publications: 

PubMed list of publications for Peter Chesson

  1. Chesson, P, and Kuang, J.J. 2008. The interaction between predation and competition. Nature 456, 235-238.
  2. Kuang, J.J and Chesson, P. 2008. Predation-competition interactions for seasonally recruiting species.  The American Naturalist 171, E119–E133. http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/pdf/10.1086/527484
  3. Chesson, P. 2008. Quantifying and testing species coexistence mechanisms. Pp 119 – 164 in Valladares, F., Camacho, A., Elosegui, A., Gracia, C., Estrada, M., Senar, J.C., & Gili, J.M., eds. “Unity in Diversity: Reflections on Ecology after the Legacy of Ramon Margalef.” Fundacion BBVA, Bilbao
  4. Sears, A.L.W., Chesson, P. 2007. New methods for quantifying the spatial storage effect: an illustration with desert annuals.  Ecology 88, 2240-2247
  5. Melbourne, B.A., Chesson, P. 2006. The scale transition: scaling up population dynamics with field data.  Ecology 87, 1478–1488.
  6. Chesson, P., Donahue, M., Melbourne, B., Sears, A. 2005. Scale transition theory for understanding mechanisms in metacommunities.  In Holyoak, M, Leibold, M.A., Holt, R.D., eds, Metacommunities: spatial dynamics and ecological communities, pp 279-306
  7. Davies, K.F., Chesson, P., Harrison, S., Inouye, B.D., Melbourne, B.A., Rice, K.J. 2005. Spatial heterogeneity explains the scale dependence of the native-exotic diversity relationship.  Ecology 86, 1602-1610.
  8. Chesson, P., and Lee, C.T. 2005. Families of discrete kernels for modeling dispersal.  Theoretical Population Biology 67, 241-256.
  9. Chesson, P., Gebauer, R. L. E., Schwinning, S., Huntly, N., Wiegand, K., Ernest, M. S. K., Sher, A., Novoplansky, A., and Weltzin, J.F. 2004. Resource pulses, species interactions and diversity maintenance in arid and semi-arid environments. Oecologia
  10. Chesson, P. 2003. Quantifying and testing coexistence mechanisms arising from recruitment fluctuations. Theoretical Population Biology 64, 345­357.
  11. Chesson, P. 2003. Quantifying and testing coexistence mechanisms arising from recruitment fluctuations. Theoretical Population Biology 64, 345­357.
  12. Dewi, S., Chesson, P. 2003. The age-structured lottery model. Theoretical Population Biology 64, 331­343.
  13. Snyder, R.E. and Chesson, P. 2003. Local dispersal can facilitate coexistence in the presence of permanent spatial heterogeneity. Ecology Letters 6,301­309.
  14. Osenberg, C.W., C.M. St. Mary, R.J. Schmitt, S.J. Holbrook, P.Chesson, and B. Byrne. 2002. Rethinking ecological inference: Density dependence in reef fishes.Ecology Letters 5, 715­721.
  15. Chesson, P., Peterson, A.G. 2002. The quantitative assessment of the benefits
    of physiological integration in clonal plants. Evolutionary Ecology Research 4, 1153­1176.
  16. Peterson, A.G. and Chesson, P. 2002. Short term fitness benefits of physiological integration in the clonal herb Hydrocotyle peduncularis. Austral Ecology 27, 647-657.
  17. Chase, J. M., P. A. Abrams, J. P. Grover, S. Diehl, P. Chesson, R. D. Holt, S. A. Richards, R. M. Nisbet, and T. J. Case. 2002. The interaction between predation and competition: a review and synthesis. Ecology Letters 5:302-315.
  18. Shea, K., Chesson, P. 2002. Community ecology theory as a framework for biological invasions. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 17, 170-176.
  19. Chesson, P., Pacala, S., Neuhauser, C. 2001. Environmental niches and ecosystem functioning. Pages 213-245 in "The Functional Consequences of Biodiversity", Ann Kinzig, Stephen Pacala, and David Tilman, eds, Princeton University Press.
  20. Chesson, P. 2001. Metapopulations. Pp 161-176 in Encyclopedia of Biodiversity, Vol 4, Simon A. Levin, ed, Academic Press.
  21. Hood, G.M., Chesson, P., Pech, R.P. 2000. Biological control using sterilising viruses: Host suppression and competition between viruses in non-spatial models. Journal of Applied Ecology 37, 914-925.
  22. Chesson, P. 2000. General theory of competitive coexistence in spatially varying environments. Theoretical Population Biology 58, 211-237.
  23. Chesson, P. 2000. Mechanisms of maintenance of species diversity. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 31, 343-66.
  24. Kerans, B., Chesson, P.L., Stein, R.A. 2000. Assessing density-dependent establishment and dispersal: an example using caddisfly larvae. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 57, 1190-1199.

Contact Information

Lab Phone: 
(520) 621-1889
Office Phone: 
(520) 626-1451
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