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Will Pearse

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

Assistant Professor - Biology Department | Ecology Center

Assistant Professor

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 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 focused on leveraging the theoretical and academic insights of my research to generate concrete, actionable conservation advice.


Associate Editor, Methods in Ecology & Evolution, 2015

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

    * Has not been peer reviewed

    Publications - Fact Sheets

      * Has not been peer reviewed

      Publications - Curriculum

        * Has not been peer reviewed

        Publications - Journal Articles

          Academic Journal

        • Pearse, W., Cavender-Bares, J., Hobbie, S.E, Avolio, M., Bettez, N., Chowdhury, R.R, Groffman, P.M, Grove, M., Hall, S.J, Heffernan, J.B, others, , (2018). Homogenization of plant diversity, composition, and structure in North American urban yards. Ecosphere, 061937.
        • Pearse, W., Davis, C.C, Inouye, D.W, Primack, R.B, Davies, T.J, (2017). A statistical estimator for determining the limits of contemporary and historic phenology. Nature Ecology & Evolution
        • Pearse, W., (2017). Animating and exploring phylogenies with fibre plots. F1000 Research, 5, 2790.
        • Brooks, S.J, Self, A., Powney, G.D, Pearse, W., Penn, M., Paterson, G.L, (2017). The influence of life history traits on the phenological response of British butterflies to climate variability since the late-19th century. Ecography
        • 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.
        • 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). Response to Comment on “Using ecological thresholds to evaluate the costs and benefits of set-asides in a biodiversity hotspot”. Science, 346:6214, 1193–1193.
        • 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.
        • 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


          * Has not been peer reviewed

          Publications - Technical Reports

            * Has not been peer reviewed

            Publications - Translations & Transcripts

              Publications - Other


              • Pearse, W., (2013). The phylogenetic structure of ecological communities under change. Imperial College London

              * Has not been peer reviewed

              Scheduled Teaching

              BIOL, CAS 4310, 6310 - Linear Regression and Beyond for Life Scientists, Fall 2018

              BIOL 4750, 6750 - Topics in Biology (Topic), Fall 2018

              BIOL 6750 - Topics in Biology, Spring 2018

              BIOL 6750/4750 - Programming for Biologists, Fall 2017

              BIOL 6750 - Statistical Espresso for Biologists: Applied Machine Learning, Fall 2017

              BIOL 4750, 6750 - Topics in Biology, Fall 2017

              BIOL 2988 - Introduce to Data Science, Summer 2017

              BIOL 4750, 6750 - Topics in Biology, Fall 2016

              Graduate Students Mentored

              Austin Koontz, Biology, August 2018
              Michael Stemkovski, Biology, August 2018
              Elizabeth Simpson, August 2017