Assistant Research Professor, School of Earth & Space Exploration
Affiliated Faculty, School of Life Sciences
Affiliated Faculty, School for the Future of Innovation in Society Affiliated Faculty, Center for Biodiversity Outcomes
Arizona State University

Integrative and quantitative biologist working on macroecology, microbial ecology, macroevolution, and metabolic scaling

Research synopsis

My research investigates the role of energy and metabolism in ecology, evolution, and biogeography. I seek to integrate understanding across levels of biological organization, from metabolic networks and cells to multicellular organisms, communities, ecosystems, and socio-ecological systems. I develop theory based on mathematical, physicochemical, and eco-evolutionary principles, and evaluate this theory using macroecological and molecular data. Much of my research currently examines how body size, thermodynamics, and kinetics shape ecological and evolutionary diversity patterns. Microbial communities are of particular interest to me. However, I also pursue research on macro-organisms, as I aim to unify understanding across domains of life.

Currents projects involve
 the development of theory based on geochemistry, thermodynamics, kinetics, and bioenergetics to elucidate fundamental physicochemical constraints on the evolution and geographic distribution of metabolic and taxonomic diversity in microbial communities. I am also collaborating with Dr. David Storch and others on the development of theory to understand macroecological patterns such as the latitudinal diversity gradient. 

My past and current research involves the following interrelated themes:

1) The relationship between allometric scaling and major eco-evolutionary transitions in individuality and levels of organization

2) The allometry and metabolic ecology of cells and microorganisms 

3) The role of size, temperature, and stoichiometry in governing trajectories of evolution of functional diversity, the structure and assembly of ecological communities, and the geographic distribution of biodiversity 

4) The assembly and diversity of microbial genes, taxa, and traits along extreme temperature and chemical gradients of Yellowstone hot springs and Antarctic soils and lakes

5) Human macroecology, sustainability, and technological innovations.

Selected Publications

•  Okie, J.G., V.H. Smith, M. Martin-Cereceda. 2016. Major evolutionary transitions of life, metabolic scaling, and the number and size of mitochondria and chloroplastsProc. Roc. Soc. B 283: 20160611(Supplemental Material). 

•  Okie, J.G., D.J. Van Horn, D. Storch, J.E. Barrett, M.N. Gooseff, L. Kopsova, and C.D. Takacs-Vesbach. 2015. Niche and metabolic principles explain patterns of diversity and distribution: theory and a case study with soil bacterial communitiesProc Roc Soc B 282:20142630.

•  Okie, J.G., A.G. Boyer, J.H. Brown, D.P. Costa, S.K.M. Ernest, A.R. Evans, M. Fortelius, J.L. Gittleman, M.J. Hamilton, L.E. Harding, K. Lintulaakso, S.K. Lyons, J.J. Saarinen, F.A. Smith, P.R. Stephens, J. Theodor, M.D. Uhen, and R.M. Sibly. 2013. Effects of allometry, productivity, and lifestyle on rates and limits of body size evolution. Proc R Soc B 280: 20131007. (Appendix).

• Okie, J.G. 2013. General models for the spectra of surface area scaling strategies of cells and organisms: fractality, geometric dissimilitude, and internalization. American Naturalist 181: 421-439. (Appendix).

• Okie, J.G. 2012. Microorganisms, in Metabolic Ecology: A Scaling Approach (editors R.M. Sibly, J.H. Brown, and A. Kodric-Brown), Jon Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK.

• DeLong, J.P., J.G. Okie, M.E. Moses, R.M. Sibly, and J.H. Brown. 2010. Shifts in metabolic scaling, production, and efficiency across major evolutionary transitions of life. Proc Nat Acad Sci 107: 12941-12945. (Supporting Information).

• Okie, J.G., and J.H. Brown. 2009. Niches, body sizes, and the disassembly of mammal communities on the Sunda Shelf islands
Proc Nat Acad Sci  106: 19679-19684. (Supporting Information).

Metabolic theory of ecology, community assembly rules, morphological evolution, body size distributions, biodiversity, ecological stoichiometry, human macroecology, sustainability, theoretical biology, allometry, major evolutionary transitions, evolutionary ecology, scaling of organelles, allometric scaling and metabolic ecology of unicellular organisms, microbial macroecology, astrobiology, theoretical biogeochemistry