Community ecology & restoration lab

Nick barber, san diego state university

About us

Welcome to the research lab of Nick Barber, Assistant Professor of biology at San Diego State University.  We study how environmental and biotic factors influence community assembly and affect the outcomes of trophic interactions. 

We work in restored, managed, and unmanaged ecosystems, and a major goal of our research is to generate basic ecological knowledge while contributing to the conservation and sustainable management of habitats.



May 2021:

  • Some great news from our lab as a very long schoolyear comes to an end:

  • Fernanda was accepted to SDSU's Biological & Medical Informatics MS program!

  • Sam has an internship with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service this summer!

  • Maricela has an internship with the National Ocean & Atmospheric Administration!

  • Camille got exciting news but we're not allowed to officially announce it yet!

  • Look at these pretty pictures we published in the ESA Bulletin.

April 2021:

  • The semester has kept everyone busy, but thankfully we've all been healthy.

  • Sam, Maricela, and Fernanda presented posters at SDSU's Student Research Symposium. The next day, Sam and Maricela presented their poster at the Midwest Ecology & Evolution Conference. Everyone did a really impressive job, and the posters look great hanging in the lab now!

  • Check out this exciting paper in PNAS from our Nachusa crew, led by Dr. Pete Guiden. We show that management activities in restored prairies have stronger effects on animal diversity than plant-mediated effects.

  • Lab alumnus Azeem Rahman recently accepted a job with the USDA-NRCS -- congratulations, Azeem!

January 2021:

  • Happy New Year - we're fortunate and thankful that everyone in the lab has stayed healthy and well, and we're looking forward to another virtual semester.

  • Take a look at a recent paper from Ryan Blackburn's NIU MS work that was recently published, examining how inexpensive drone imagery can predict prairie characteristics.

September 2020:

July 2020:

  • Congratulations to Azeem, who successfully defended his MS thesis in which he used stable isotope analysis to study ground beetle diet shifts in response to fire and bison management in prairies.

  • We were awarded another NSF grant for a collaborative project with Dr. Holly Jones! This $700,000 project will establish a biodiversity plot experiment and continue our Nachusa plant surveys to study how trait-informed community assembly processes influence ecosystem function.


June 2020:

  • A very busy spring and start to summer while everyone is working from home.

  • First, the Ecology Program Area faculty issued a statement in response to protests against anti-Black racism in the U.S. We commit to reducing barriers in ecology that result from systemic racism and taking actions to uphold that commitment.

  • We were awarded a NSF Rules of Life grant! This $2.5 million collaborative project will explore how plants influence soil microbial community structure and function through the release of root exudates. We will be recruiting a PhD student in the fall. More details on this position to come soon, but read about the project here!

  • Nick and colleagues published a paper in PNAS on plant communities and bumble bee parasites that was featured on the cover. The paper was led by Lynn Adler.

  • Melissa Nelson's thesis on ground beetle community structure and predatory function was accepted at Ecological Applications (link)

  • Welcome to Sam Padilla and Fernanda Terrazas, bio undergrads who will be joining the lab this fall!

Lab News Archive