Resources. Competition. Evolution. Life.

Evolutionary biologist and ecologist

How do competitive interactions shape the ecology, population dynamics, and traits of species and communities?

Hi! My name is Daniel Falster. I am an ARC future fellow at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. I use a combination of maths, computer models, and large data sets to test fundamental ideas about the processes shaping biological communities. My current focus is on predicting the distribution of plant types found across the Australian continent from first principles, using evolutionary models. I am passionate about science, open data, reproducible research, and teaching biologists to code.

Here you will find links to my research outputs, blog (below), and the nice R code blog, which I co-author with my collaborator Rich FitzJohn. Also check out my impact story.

Blog posts

Generous Scientia PhD Scholarship - Traits, Species Distributions, Climate Change -

We have been lucky enough to have been awarded one of UNSW’s prestigious Scientia PhD scholarships. These come with $40k p.a. stipend (tax free) and $10k p.a. of research funding for a full 4 years (compared to the standard Australian offer of $25k p.a. for 3 years). The position is open to both Australian and international applicants. The topic is broad intentionally to attract an outstanding student: Read on →

Plant: A Package for Modelling Forest Trait Ecology & Evolution -

Our latest paper describes an R package called plant – an individual-based simulation model that simulates the growth of individual trees, stands of competing plants, or entire metacommunities under a disturbance regime, using common physiological rules and trait-based functional trade-offs to capture differences among species. Read on →

Key Technologies Used to Build the Plant Package (and Maybe Soon Some Other Big Simulation Models in R) -

In this post on the methods blog Rich FitzJohn and I describe the key technologies used to build our recently published package for R called plant – an individual-based simulation model that simulates the growth of individual trees, stands of competing plants, or entire metacommunities under a disturbance regime, using common physiological rules and trait-based functional trade-offs to capture differences among species.

For Full Details of the Model See Elsewhere -

The purpose of this post is to consider how researchers using process-based models can best describe their methods, assuming that a given base model may be used in a series of papers.

A common situation in the current literature is that a full description of any particular model is given in the first paper where it is used, and then in subsequent papers we say something like “For full details of the model see Falster et al (2011).” The benefit of this approach is that it reduces repetition, and clearly identifies when an idea or set of ideas was first introduced. But there are at least two substantial downsides: Read on →

TedXSydney 2013 -

After watching countless talks on line, I was very excited to attend my first TedXSydney at the Sydney Opera House on May 24 2013. This was different to any scientific conference I had attended, and I came away inspired on a number of fronts. Read on →

Reflections on the Software Carpentry Teaching Module -

In preparation for running a “software carpentry bootcamp” I participated in the Software Carpentry Foundation (SCF)’s “Instructor training course”. The course takes 2-4 hours/week for 12 weeks and covers the basics of educational psychology, instructional design, and how to apply both to teach programming to adults. These two posts contain some reflections on my experience from the course, the first on a lesson about repeating thing, and the second on the course as a whole.

Why I Want to Write Nice R Code -

I originally posted this article on the niceRcode blog.

Writing code is fast becoming a key - if not the most important - skill for doing research in the 21st century. As scientists, we live in extraordinary times. The amount of data (information) available to us is increasingly exponentially, allowing for rapid advances in our understanding of the world around us. Read on →

Updating My Online Identity -

Wow - The web has changed. My previous web page was built in 2003, and served me for an amazing 10 years. In that time the web was remade, and I fell out of touch. I decided it was time to update my online identity. Read on →