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Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Cornell University Cornell University Cornell University Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology


Hylodes phyllodes, a stream-breeding frog from Atlantic Coastal Forest of Brazil


Biology of Fishes class collecting at Oneida Lake


An Acacia tree backlit by the African sunset


Pisaster ochraceus in the intertidal


Common milkweed, Asclepias syriaca, growing in Ithaca

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The Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology is a dynamic and friendly place, populated by students, faculty and expert staff who work together to understand the patterns and processes that structure ecological systems and drive evolutionary change over all time scales. We focus on three core disciplines: as ecologists, we study relationships among organisms and their environments, from populations and communities to biogeochemical cycles and energy flow. As evolutionists we elucidate the past history of natural assemblages and how organisms respond to changing environments. As organismal biologists we decipher relationships among everything from bacteria to mammals, as well as seek to understand their inner workings. In addressing these complex and profoundly important topics we strive to ignore boundaries among disciplines, integrate undergraduate and graduate education, and foster interaction between science and society. Basic research in these core disciplines leads to understanding, which is, in turn, key for sustaining ecosystems and biodiversity on our rapidly changing planet. To learn more about how our research relates to real-world environmental issues, click here. To learn about all research in our department, click here.

Our ecological and evolutionary interests span levels of organization encompassing genes, phenotypes, populations, species, communities and ecosystems. We study diverse ecosystems and habitats, from local freshwaters to terrestrial ecosystems, including agricultural landscapes, to tropical oceans, alpine tundra, deserts and tropical rainforests. And we study the full range of processes that this scope entails: organismal structure and function, natural selection and adaptation, population regulation, complex species interactions, local and global element cycling, speciation, phylogenetics, and taxonomic diversification rates. In many cases we collaborate in investigations that reveal interactions among these processes.

At this website you will also find descriptions of our undergraduate and graduate programs and the courses we teach. We have included links to a diversity of facilities and campus organizations that are important to our program.  Overall, we offer a remarkable diversity of educational and research opportunities.