Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Jonathan Lefcheck

Ph.D. Student

Email : [[jslefche]]
Phone : (804) 684-7150, 7148
Office : Andrews Hall 105
Department : Biological Sciences
Advisor : J. Emmett Duffy


B.A., Biology. 2009. Colby College, Waterville, Maine.

Research Interests

I'm broadly interested in biodiversity, and what it means for the ecosystems and services that we value.

What is biodiversity, and how do we measure it? I'm currently exploring methods for assessing and quantifying different kinds of diversity, including those based on organismal 'functional traits' and evolutionary history. These approaches may provide a more accurate, representative, and intuitive picture of the diversity of natural communities. I have recently applied them to global reef fish communities, and local fish communities in the Chesapeake Bay. In the near future, I will be using functional traits to inform temporal patterns of diversity, community assembly, and response to global change in local eelgrass communities in the Chesapeake Bay, as well broad spatial patterns through the Zostera Experimental Network.

What exactly does biodiversity mean for ecosystems, and can we generalize about the contributions of biodiversity across organisms and systems? I employ both an experimental and meta-analytical approach to investigating how biodiversity affects ecosystem processes. I have been involved in several synthetic projects, including developing new methods for quantifying ecosystem 'multifunctionality' (how diversity--or other variables--influence multiple ecosystem processes simultaneously) and reviewing how diversity influences consumer fitness and ecosystem processes in the marine realm. I am currently working on a comprehensive meta-analysis of diversity and ecosystem multifunctionality, drawing on dozens of experiments conducted worldwide, as part of an NCEAS working group. My experimental work involves manipulating small invertebrates in experimental mesocosms. Many of these invertebrates are also important grazers in seagrass systems, and I'm interested in their role as algal consumers in promoting seagrass health, as well as their role as food for higher-level fishes and macroinvertebrates. I have also conducted experiments to better understand the natural history of these grazers, specifically their role as micropredators of other seagrass denizens.

I am also interested in scientific communnication and outreach, as well as integrated research experience into the classroom. I helped co-found and contribute to the website BioDiverse Perspectives, a blog dedicated to uniting graduate, undergraudate, and early career ecologists in their explorations of all aspects of biodiversity.


J.S. Lefcheck, J. van Montfrans, R.J. Orth, E.L. Schmitt, J.E. Duffy, and M. Luckenbach. 2014. “Epifaunal invertebrates as predators of juvenile bay scallops (Argopectin irradians).” Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 454: 18-25. DOI: 10.1016/j.jembe.2014.01.014. PDF

L. Gamfeldt, J.S. Lefcheck, J.E.K. Byrnes, J.E. Duffy, B.J. Cardinale, J.N. Griffin. 2014. “Marine biodiversity and ecosystem functioning: what’s known and what’s next.” PeerJ PrePrints 2:e249v1. DOI: 10.7287/peerj.preprints.249v1. PDF

J.S. Lefcheck, A. Buchheister, K.M. Laumann, M. Stratton, K. Sobocinski, S. Chak, T.R. Clardy, P.L. Reynolds, R.J. Latour, & J.E. Duffy. 2014. “Dimensions of biodiversity in Chesapeake Bay demersal fishes: Patterns and drivers through space and time.” Ecosphere 5(2): art14. doi: 10.1890/ES13-00284.1. PDF

J.E.K. Byrnes, L. Gamfeldt, F. Isbell, J.E. Duffy, J.S. Lefcheck, J.N. Griffin, A. Hector, B.J. Cardinale, D.U. Hooper, & L.E. Dee. 2014. “Investigating the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem multifunctionality: Challenges and solutions.” Methods in Ecology and Evolution 5(2): 111-124. DOI: 10.1111/2041-210X.12143. PDF

R. Stuart-Smith, A.E. Bates, J.S. Lefcheck, J.E. Duffy, S.C. Baker, R.J. Thomson, J.F. Stuart-Smith, N.A. Hill, S.J. Kininmonth, L. Airoldi, M.A. Becerro, S.J. Campbell, T.P. Dawson, S.A. Navarette, G.A. Soler, E.M.A. Strain, T.J. Willis, & G.J. Edgar. 2013. “Integrating abundance and functional traits reveals new global hotspots of fish diversity.” Nature 501(7468): 539-542. doi: 10.1038/nature12529. PDF / press release

J.S. Lefcheck, M.A. Whalen, T.M. Davenport, J.P. Stone, & J.E. Duffy. 2013. “Physiological effects of dietary mixing on consumer fitness: A meta-analysis.” Ecology 94(3): 565-527. doi: 10.1890/12-0192.1. PDF /press release

In press

T.J. Bird, A.E. Bates, J.S. Lefcheck, N.A. Hill, S. Wotherspoon, M. Krkosek, R. Stuart-Smith, J. Stuart-Smith, G. Pecl, G.J. Edgar, R.J. Thomson, N. Barrett, & S. Frusher. 2013. “Statistical solutions for error and bias in global citizen science datasets.” Biological Conservation. doi: 10.1016/j.biocon.2013.07.037. *Invited contribution. PDF

In revision

J.S. Lefcheck, & J.N. Griffin. “Comment: Choosing and using traits in functional diversity research.” Environmental Conservation. *Invited contribution


J.E. Duffy, P.L. Reynolds, C. Boström, J.A. Coyer, M. Cusson, S. Donadi, J.G. Douglass, J. Eklöf, A. Engelen, B.K. Eriksson, S. Fredriksen, L. Gamfeldt, C. Gustafsson, G. Hoarau, M. Hori, K. Hovel, K. Iken, J.S. Lefcheck, P. Moksnes, M. Nakaoka, M.I. O'Connor, J.L. Olsen, J.P. Richardson, J.L. Ruesink, E.E. Sotka, J.J. Stachowicz, J. Thormar, M.A. Whalen. "Biodiversity predicts functioning of eelgrass ecosystems: A global comparative experiment." PNAS.

Cirriculum Vitae

pdf icon Download a copy of my CV


Sample(ECOLOGY), my own blog on biodiversity science, ecology, statistics, and R

BioDiverse Perspectives, a blog about all aspects of biodiversity science, written by graduate students. Our goal is to bring interesting, seminal papers to other graduate students in casual, approachable language, and to provide a forum for graduate students to come together and discuss the future of biodiversity research