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William Pearse

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Biodiversity, phylogenetics, community ecology, trait evolution, diversification, community phylogenetics, eco-phylogenetics, conservation

Assistant Professor - Biology Department | Ecology Center

Contact Information

Office Location: BNR 139
DialPhone: 435 797-0831

Educational Background

PhD, Evolutionary ecology, Imperial College London, 2013
Phylogenetic perspectives on community change
MS, Ecology, Evolution & Conservation, Imperial College London, 2009
The community phylogenetics of Silwood Park
MA, Zoology, (Natural Sciences), University of Cambridge, 2008
"Beetles and bird’s nest ferns: baskets of biomass?" and "Crabbing’s impact on crabs: the cause, the effect, and the solution"


Born in Bristol, England, I studied zoology at Cambridge University, and went to graduate school at Imperial College London (Silwood Park). I then worked as a research fellow at the University of Minnesota and then McGill University.

Teaching Interests

Applied statistics and programming; comparative evolutionary methods; community ecology.

Research Interests

I focus on developing new tools and methods for evolutionary ecologists, with the hope that species' evolutionary history can tell us something about their present-day ecology. Recently, I have developed my theoretical insights to generate concrete, actionable conservation insights.


Robert May Award, 2013

British Ecological Society

Faculty Award for Demonstrating and Tutoring, 2010

Imperial College London

Southwood Prize, 2009

Imperial College London

Publications - Abstracts

    Publications - Books & Book Chapters

      Book Chapters

    • Pearse, W., Purvis, A., Cavender-Bares, J., Helmus, M.R, (2014). Metrics and models of community phylogenetics: Modern Phylogenetic Comparative Methods and Their Application in Evolutionary Biology. Springer Berlin Heidelberg

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    Publications - Fact Sheets

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      Publications - Curriculum

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        Publications - Journal Articles

          Academic Journal

        • Pearse, W., (2017). Animating and exploring phylogenies with fibre plots. F1000 Research, 5, 2790.
        • Nelson, E.J, Helmus, M.R, Cavender-Bares, J., Polasky, S., Lasky, J.R, Zanne, A.E, Pearse, W., Kraft, N.J, Miteva, D.A, Fagan, W.F, (2016). Commercial Plant Production and Consumption Still Follow the Latitudinal Gradient in Species Diversity despite Economic Globalization. PloS one, 11:10, e0163002.
        • Hall, S.J, Learned, J., Ruddell, B., Larson, K.L, Cavender-Bares, J., Bettez, N., Groffman, P.M, Grove, J.M, Heffernan, J.B, Hobbie, S.E, Pearse, W., others, , (2016). Convergence of microclimate in residential landscapes across diverse cities in the United States. Landscape Ecology, 31:1, 101–117.
        • Barak, R.S, Hipp, A.L, Cavender-Bares, J., Pearse, W., Hotchkiss, S.C, Lynch, E.A, Callaway, J.C, Calcote, R., Larkin, D.J, (2016). Taking the long view: integrating recorded, archeological, paleoecological, and evolutionary data into ecological restoration. International Journal of Plant Sciences, 177:1, 90–102.
        • Brooks, S.J, Self, A., Powney, G.D, Pearse, W., Penn, M., Paterson, G.L, (2016). The influence of life history traits on the phenological response of British butterflies to climate variability since the late-19th century. Ecography
        • Pearse, W., Chase, M., Crawley, M., Dolphin, K., Fay, M., Joseph, J., Powney, G., Preston, C., Rapacciuolo, G., Roy, D., others, , (2015). Beyond the EDGE with EDAM: Prioritising British Plant Species According to Evolutionary Distinctiveness, and Accuracy and Magnitude of Decline.. PloS one, 10:5, e0126524–e0126524.
        • Pearse, W., Cadotte, M.W, Cavender-Bares, J., Ives, A.R, Tucker, C.M, Walker, S.C, Helmus, M.R, (2015). pez: phylogenetics for the environmental sciences. Bioinformatics, 31:17, 2888–2890.
        • Pearse, W., Green, H.K, Aldridge, D., (2014). Catching crabs: a case study in local-scale English conservation. arXiv preprint arXiv:1404.0290 *
        • Banks-Leite, C., Pardini, R., Tambosi, L.R, Pearse, W., Bueno, A.A, Bruscagin, R.T, Condez, T.H, Dixo, M., Igari, A.T, Martensen, A.C, others, , (2014). Conserving Brazil’s Atlantic forests—Response. Science, 346:6214, 1193–1193.
        • Pearse, W., Purvis, A., Roy, D.B, Stamatakis, A., (2014). Modelling ecological communities as if they were DNA. arXiv preprint arXiv:1403.7668 *
        • Banks-Leite, C., Pardini, R., Tambosi, L.R, Pearse, W., Bueno, A.A, Bruscagin, R.T, Condez, T.H, Dixo, M., Igari, A.T, Martensen, A.C, others, , (2014). Using ecological thresholds to evaluate the costs and benefits of set-asides in a biodiversity hotspot. Science, 345:6200, 1041–1045.
        • Pearse, W., Jones, F.A, Purvis, A., (2013). Barro Colorado Island’s phylogenetic assemblage structure across fine spatial scales and among clades of different ages. Ecology, 94:12, 2861–2872.
        • Díaz, S., Purvis, A., Cornelissen, J.H, Mace, G.M, Donoghue, M.J, Ewers, R.M, Jordano, P., Pearse, W., (2013). Functional traits, the phylogeny of function, and ecosystem service vulnerability. Ecology and Evolution, 3:9, 2958–2975.
        • Pearse, W., Purvis, A., (2013). phyloGenerator: an automated phylogeny generation tool for ecologists. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 4:7, 692–698.
        • Ewers, R., Didham, R., Pearse, W., V.L, Rosa, I., Carreiras, j., Lucas, R., Reuman, D., (2013). Using landscape history to predict biodiversity patterns in fragmented landscapes. Ecology Letters, 16:10, 1221–1233.
        • Pearse, W., (2010). Effects of community invasion across multiple spatial scales. Frontiers in Biogeography, 2:1, 3–4.
        • Todd, V.L, Pearse, W., Tregenza, N.C, Lepper, P.A, Todd, I.B, (2009). Diel echolocation activity of harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) around North Sea offshore gas installations. ICES Journal of Marine Science: Journal du Conseil

        * Has not been peer reviewed

        Publications - Literary Journal

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          Publications - MultiMedia

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            Publications - Technical Reports

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              Publications - Translations & Transcripts

                Publications - Other


                • Pearse, W., (2013). The phylogenetic structure of ecological communities under change. Imperial College London
                • Orme, D., Freckleton, R., Thomas, G., Petzoldt, T., Fritz, S., Isaac, N., Pearse, W., caper: Comparative Analyses of Phylogenetics and Evolution in R. R package version 0.5. 2. 2013. *

                * Has not been peer reviewed

                Scheduled Teaching

                BIOL 4750, 6750 - Topics in Biology, Fall 2016

                Graduate Students Mentored