Tyler is mainly interested in using mathematical and statistical modeling to understand ecological mechanisms that drive patterns of plant species abundance and diversity. The goal of his current project is to determine the relative importance of genomic diversity and heterozygosity relative to neighborhood competition/pathogen effects and soil nutrient effects on the individual growth rates of 10 different tree species native to the Pacific Northwest, including the economically important species Douglas-fir, in the Wind River old growth forest dynamics plot in south-central Washington state. His modeling efforts utilize a maximum likelihood optimization process that will estimate competition coefficients of these 10 species as well as the relative effects of the above factors using data from the more than 30,000 trees in the Wind River plot. He is using a RAD-seq approach to discover thousands of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) among individuals within each species in order to estimate individual heterozygosity and inbreeding coefficients, and to characterize spatial genetic structure, for nearly 750 trees within this 500 year-old forest. Tyler’s work is part of a larger collaborative effort of multiple research labs including those of Dr. Brett Tyler, Director of the Oregon State University Center for Genome Research and Biocomputing, Dr. Nik Grünwald of the USDA-ARS (and courtesy faculty at Oregon State University), Dr. James Lutz of Utah State University, Dr. Margaret Metz of Lewis and Clark College, and Dr. David Oline of Southern Oregon University, to understand the role of oomycete pathogens and tree host genetic diversity in determining ecological patterns in the Wind River forest plot, as well as the extent to which transcriptional plasticity may affect the virulence and host specificity of oomycete pathogens. Tyler started his graduate work in the fall of 2014 and hopes to be finished with his M.S. by March 2017.
Check out Tyler’s website.