Jorge Soberón

Jorge Soberón

Senior Scientist
Dyche Hall

Dr. Jorge Soberón is mainly interested in documenting and understanding large-scale spatial patterns in the biodiversity of terrestrial species. When he is not working, it is likely that he will be walking outside Lawrence with Tita his wife and their dog, or reading (Medieval History, Physics for non-physicists, or novels). He also tries, somewhat unsuccessfully, to illuminate mansucripts using medieval methods, motives and materials.


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.

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.


Fautin, D., L. Malarky & J. Soberón. 2013. Latitudinal diversity of sea Anemones (Cnidaria: Actiniaria). The Biological Bulletin. 224(2):89-98

Owens, Hannah L., Campbell, Lindsay P., Dornak, L. Lynnette, Saupe, Erin E., Barve, Narayani, Soberón, Jorge, Ingenloff, Kate, Lira-Noriega, Andrés, Hensz, Christopher M., Myers, Corinne E., Peterson, A. Townsend 2013. Constraints on interpretation of ecological niche models by limited environmental ranges on calibration areas. Ecological Modelling. 263:10-18

Villalobos, F., A. Lira-Noriega, J. Soberón and H.T. Arita. 2013. Range–diversity plots for conservation assessments: Using richness and rarity in priority setting. Biological Conservation. 158: 313-320.

Peterson, A.T. and J. Soberón. 2012. Species Distribution Modeling and Ecological Niche Modeling: Getting the Concepts Right. Naturaleza & Conservacao 10(2):1-6

Soberón, J. & David Martínez-Gordillo. 2012. Occupation of environmental and morphological   space:   climatic niche and skull shape in Neotoma woodrats. Evolutionary Ecology Research 14:503-517

Peterson, A. T. & J. Soberón. 2012. Integrating Fundamental Concepts of Ecology, Biogeography, and Sampling into Ecological Niche Modeling and Species Distribution Modeling. Plant Biosystems 146(4):789-796


I got my Bachelor and Masters' degrees at the National University of Mexico (UNAM) and my PhD at Imperial College, University of London, in 1982.