Interdisciplinary Life Science - PULSe Great research is a matter of choice

Gordon McNickle

Gordon McNickle Profile Picture

Plant-Biotic interactions. Community ecology. Evolutionary Game theory.

Contact Info:


Training Group(s):
Integrative Plant Sciences

Current Research Interests:

Research in my group investigates interactions among plants and other organisms as an evolutionary game. In a game (e.g. checkers) your probability of winning the match depends on your strategy, and the strategy of your opponent. If you think about interactions in nature, these interactions really possess all the essential features of a game: the success of one organism depends on its traits, and the traits of the organisms (e.g. predators, competitors, mutualistic partners) with which it interacts. Research in the lab tends to focus on belowground interactions, but any biotic interactions can find their way into the lab! This includes resource competition among plants or microbes, resource trading among plants and mutualistic partners, or resources lost through attack by enemies such as herbivores or pathogens.

Research in the lab involves a mixture of empirical and theoretical tools to explore questions. Depending on the question, we might grow a plant in the greenhouse, charter a bush plane into the Canadian Boreal, or we might develop a mathematical model. Read more:

Selected Publications:

McNickle, G.G., Gonzalez-Meler M.A., Lynch, D.J., Baltzer, J.L. and Brown J.S. (2016) The world's biomes and primary production as a triple tragedy of the commons foraging game played among plants. Procceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences. 283: . DOI

Cressman, R., Halloway, A., McNickle, G.G., Apaloo, J., and Brown J.S. (2017) Unlimited Niche Packing in a Lotka-Volterra Competition Game. Theoretical Population Biology. In Press. DOI

McNickle, G.G., Deyholos, M.K. and Cahill, J.F. (2016) Nutrient foraging behaviour of four co-occurring perennial grassland plant species alone does not predict behaviour with neighbours. Functional Ecology. 30: 420-430. DOI

Apaloo J., Brown, J.S., McNickle, G.G., Vincent, T.L.S. and Vincent, T.L. (2015) ESS versus Nash: Solving Evolutionary Games. Evolutionary Ecology Research. 16: 293-314. Link 

McNickle, G.G. and Brown J.S. (2014) When Michaelis and Menten met Holling: towards a mechanistic theory of plant nutrient foraging. AoB Plants. 6: plu066. DOI

McNickle, G.G. and Brown J.S. (2014) An ideal free distribution explains the root production of plants that do not engage in a tragedy of the commons game. Journal of Ecology. 102(4): 963–971. DOI

McNickle, G.G. and Dybzinski, R. (2013) Plant Ecology and Game theory. Ecology Letters. 16(4):545-555. DOI

Cahill, J.F. Jr, McNickle, G.G., Haag, J.J., Lamb, E.G., Nyanumba, S.M, St Clair, C.C. (2010) Plants integrate information about nutrients and neighbors. Science. 328: 1657 DOI

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