Jorge Soberón

Natural Sciences and Mathematics - Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, KU Biodiversity Institute
University Distinguished Professor
Primary office:
Dyche Hall, 713B


Dr. Jorge Soberón is mainly interested in documenting and understanding large-scale spatial patterns in the biodiversity of terrestrial species.



I teach mostly topics related to quantitative and mathematical ecology. Multivariate Methods, Population Ecology (theory), mathematical modeling. My philosophy of teaching is simple: I like students to understand the fundamentals and to be able to do things. Therefore I emphasize a "workshop" mode of teaching, with everybody in a computer actually doing things with data. On the other hand, I like telling stories related to the subject topic, and my point of view about things.

Teaching Interests

  • Focus on the fundamentals
  • Emphasize doing
  • Provide historical context
  • Enjoy the subject
  • Be rigorous with methods, language and concepts


Research Interests

In my lab we make extensive use of databases of specimens from scientific collections, or from observations. For the descriptive aspects of the work I use Geographical Information Systems software. For the predictive and analytical questions, I use mathematical models, as well as software specifically designed for niche modeling. I am also very interested in the political and institutional aspects of biodiversity governance. I love working in collaboration and I have published work in collaboration with colleagues in several laboratories in Mexico and the United States.

Current Research

Presently I am working on how to "integrate" alternative views of biodiversity like distributional data, phylogenetic data, data about interactions, and others. This is done in collaboration with computer scientists and colleagues in other universities. Results of this research can be applied to the more accurate planning of conservation. I am also very interested in how different niche factors affect species distributions at contrasting scales. I am very intrigued by the details of how, at changing scales, different factors cease to act as variables in equations and become parameters in new equations. This is explored by mathematical modeling, by simulation, and by analyzing a very extensive field database compiled by one of the students in my group.

The students working in my group focus on questions related to factors affecting distributions of species at different scales, the effects of dispersal and migration on the shapes of the distributions, and the energetic and life-history correlates of fundamental niches. There is also a postdoctoral associate working on geometrical morphometrics of butterflies.

Generally speaking, in my group we try to explore conceptual and theoretical questions, using as much available data as possible. It may be called data-constrained theorizing.

Research Interests

  • Biodiversity patterns, biodiversity policy, niche theory, conservation biology


Mostly I serve both in the Biodiversity Institute and the EEB committees, and in a large number of international boards and panels.

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