Department Directory







Department Chair: Rita Mehta Department Manager: Stephanie Zakarian
Graduate Program Coordinator: Judy Straub Department Assistant: Eva Chudnow
Undergraduate Program Coordinator/Lead Advisor: Rexton Lynn Undergraduate Advisor:
Biology Teaching Laboratory and Facilities Support Technician: Nicole Hack
Department Office: (831) 459-5358 Administrative Office: CBB, Room 207, 209
John N Thompson
  • Title
    • Distinquished Research Professor
  • Division Physical & Biological Sciences Division
  • Department
    • Ecology & Evolutionary Biology Department
  • Phone
  • Email
  • Website
  • Office Location
    • CSC Coastal Biology Building, 278 Coastal Biology Building
  • Office Hours By appointment
  • Mail Stop CBB/EE Biology
  • Mailing Address
    • 130 McAllister Way, CBB-EEB
    • Santa Cruz CA 95060
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Evolution, Ecology

Summary of Expertise

Coevolution of species; evolution and ecology of interactions among species; assembly and diversification of the web of life

Research Interests

Coevolution and the Organization of Biodiversity

Research in my laboratory is on the ways in which coevolution among species organizes the earth's biodiversity. The goal is to understand how the web of life is organized across broad geographic landscapes as species coevolve with each other within and across biological communities. Our work includes studies of species interactions in many types of environments, from relatively pristine landscapes to others that are becoming increasingly fragmented and modified by introduced taxa. We use a wide range of ecological, genetic, molecular, and evolutionary approaches to study how the interacting species may coevolve in different ways in different habitats, and how interactions continue to evolve amid environmental change.

We are currently evaluating the geographic structure and evolutionary dynamics of a variety of species interactions distributed throughout western North America, including those between plants and their pollinators and herbivores. We are asking how interacting species differ in local adaptation, how local coevolutionary hotspots shape the overall genetic structure and evolutionary trajectories of interactions, and how the evolution of polyploidy in plant populations leads to the diversification of plant species and interactions with other taxa.

Biography, Education and Training

B.A., Washington & Jefferson College, Pennsylvania
Ph.D., University of Illinois, Urbana

Honors, Awards and Grants

Darwin-Wallace Medal for Major Contributions to Evolutionary Biology, Linnean Society, 

Per Brinck Oikos Award for Contributions to the Science of Ecology

Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences

Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Letters


Past President, American Society of Naturalists

Selected Publications