We study the ecology of how plants and insects respond to a variable world

The Wetzel Lab is recruiting MS and PhD students to start in summer/fall 2018. Please see the join the lab page for more information.

In the Wetzel Lab, we do insect ecology using quantitative tools to meld field data with theory. Our research focuses on how biotic and abiotic variability influences insects and their interactions with plants and predators.

Every organism grows and reproduces best under specific biological and environmental conditions. Yet a quick look outside reveals a world that is astoundingly variable, both in biological diversity and environmental heterogeneity. Organisms face massive fluctuations in key ecological factors like temperature, food quality, and predation, and they only rarely experience their optimal conditions. The Wetzel Lab studies how biological diversity and environmental variability influence the dynamics of insect herbivore populations and their interactions with plants and predators. We work in natural and agricultural ecosystems and strive to answer questions that have relevance for agricultural sustainability and responses to climate change. We place an emphasis on using mathematical and statistical modeling to link ecological processes and patterns across scales from individuals to communities.

The Wetzel Lab is in the Department of Entomology at Michigan State University. We’re part of the Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior Program and affiliated with the Kellogg Biological Station.