Jordan Okie is a biologist, complexity scientist, and astrobiologist investigating the fundamental laws governing the distribution, organization, macroevolution, and metabolic activity of life on Earth and beyond. He has extensive field experience studying a diversity of organisms and habitats spanning five continents— from microbes to elephants and from the cold extremes of Antarctica and the Arctic to near-boiling hot springs in Yellowstone National Park. This experience inspires his current research, which employs theory/model development, bioinformatics, and macroecological approaches to uncover the laws and exceptions of life. He is also concerned with issues of human ecology and sustainability, authoring a book and widely-cited papers on these topics.
In addition to being an Assistant Research Professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration (SESE), he is a Fellow of the ASU-Santa Fe Institute Center for Biosocial Complex Systems, an affiliate of the Center for Biodiversity Outcomes at ASU's Global Institute of Sustainability, and a member of the Network for Ecological Theory Integration (NETI). He is a former SESE Exploration Postdoctoral Fellow (2011-2012), NASA Astrobiology Institute Postdoctoral Fellow (2012-14), and International Mobility Fellow at the Center for Theoretical Study of the Czech Academy of Science, Prague (2015).
Ph.D. in Biology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM (2011). Dissertation: Metabolic ecology and allometric scaling of microorganisms and major evolutionary transitions. Advisor: James H. Brown.
Santa Fe Institute's Complex Systems Summer School, Beijing (2007)
B.A. in Biology with Distinction, Magna Cum Laude, Carleton College, MN (2003). Senior thesis: Managing for the resilience of ecosystems.
School for International Training, Tanzania (2000). Field studies on conservation, ecology, and ethnography.
Astrobiology, theoretical biogeochemistry, macroecology, microbial ecology and biogeography, metabolic scaling theory, major evolutionary transitions, macroevolution, sustainability, and theoretical biology.
The unifying theme of my research is investigating the metabolic basis of ecology, evolution, and biogeography. I seek to integrate across levels of biological organization, from metabolic networks and cells to multicellular organisms and social groups. I develop biological theory based on mathematical, physical, chemical, and eco-evolutionary principles, and evaluate this theory using macroecological and molecular data. The evolution, ecology, and integrative biology of microbial communities is of particular interest to me; however, I like to pursue research in whatever biological system the questions take me. Much of my current research focuses on metabolic scaling and on the thermodynamic and kinetic effects of temperature and pH on organisms, metabolic reactions, biodiversity, and ecosystems. I also pursue research on human ecology and sustainability, collaborating with a variety of natural and social scientists to better understand and address the challenges of the Anthropocene.
Storch, D., E. Bohdalková, and J.G. Okie. 2017. The more-individuals hypothesis revisited: the role of community abundance in species richness regulation and the productivity-diversity relationship. Ecology Letters 21: 920-937.
Bo Wu, F. Liu, M. D. Weiser, D. Ning, J. G. Okie, L. Shen, B. Chai, J. Li, Y. Deng, K. Feng, L. Wu, S. Chen, J. Zhou, and Z. He. Temperature delimits the diversity and structure of N2O-reducing microbial assemblages. Functional ecology 32: 1867-1878.
Zhang, C., D. Niu, M. Song, J.J. Elser, J.G. Okie, ad H. Fu. Effects of rainfall manipulations on carbon exchange of cyanobacteria and moss-dominated biological soil crusts. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 124: 24-31.
Feeser, K.L., D.J. Van Horn, H.N.Buelow, D.R. Colman, T. McHugh, J.G. Okie, E. Schwartz, and C.D. Takacs-Vesbach. 2018 Local and regional scale heterogeneity drive bacterial community diversity and composition in a polar desert. Frontiers in Microbiology 9:1929.
Cockerill, K., M. Armstrong, J. Richter, J.G. Okie. 2017. Environmental Realism – Challenging Solutions. Palgrave Macmillan, London.
Okie, J.G., V.H. Smith, and M. Martin-Cereceda. 2016. Major evolutionary transitions of life, metabolic scaling, and the number and size of mitochondria and chloroplasts. Proceeding of the Royal Society B 283: 20160611.
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 communities. Proc. Roc. Soc. B 282:20142630.
Hammond, S.T., J.H. Brown, J.R. Burger, T.P. Flanagan, T.S. Fristoe, N. Mercado-Silva, J.C. Nekola, J.G. Okie. 2015. Food spoilage, storage, and transport: Implications for a sustainable future. Bioscience 65: 758-768.
Marquet, P.A., A.P. Allen, J.H. Brown, J. Dunne, B.J. Enquist, J.F. Gillooly, P.A. Gowaty, J.L. Green, D. Storch, J. Harte, S.P. Hubbell, J. O´Dwyer, J.G. Okie, M. Ritchie, A. Ostling, and G.B. West. 2015. On the importance of first principles in ecological theory development. Bioscience 65:342-343.
Marquet, P.A., A.P. Allen, J.H. Brown, J. Dunne, B.J. Enquist, J.F. Gillooly, P.A. Gowaty, J.L. Green, D. Storch, J. Harte, S.P. Hubbell, J. O´Dwyer, J.G. Okie, M. Ritchie, A. Ostling, and G.B. West. 2014. On theory in ecology. Bioscience 64:701-710.
Schwartz, E., H.N. Buelow, M.N. Gooseff, J.E. Barrett, J.G. Okie, C.D. Takacs-Vesbach, and D.J. Van Horn. Characterizationof Growing Bacterial Populations in McMurdo Dry Valley Soils through Stable Isotope Probing with 18O-water. FEMS Microbiology Ecology 89:415-424.
Saarinen, J.J., 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.G. Okie, R.M. Sibly, F.A. Smith, P.R. Stephens, J. Theodor, M.D. Uhen. 2014. Patterns of maximum body size evolution in Cenozoic land mammals: intrinsic biological processes and extrinsic forcing. Proc. Roc. Soc. B: 281: 20132049.
Brown, J.H., C.D. Allen. W.R. Burnside, M. Chang, A.D. Davidson, T.S. Fristoe, M.J. Hamilton, S.T. Hammond, A. Kodric-Brown, N. Mercado-Silva, J.C. Nekola, J.G. Okie, and W.H. Woodruff. 2013. Macroecology Meets Macroeconomics: Resource Scarcity and Global Sustainability. Ecological Engineering 65:24-32.
Van Horn, D.J., J.G. Okie, H.N. Buelow, M.N. Gooseff, J.E. Barrett, and C.D. Takacs-Vesbach. 2014. Soil microbial community response to increased moisture and organic resources along a salinity gradient in Antarctica. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 80: 3034-3043.
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.
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.
Nekola, J.C., C.D. Allen, J.H. Brown, W.R. Burnside, A.D. Davidson, T.S. Fristoe, M.J. Hamilton, S.T. Hammond, A. Kodric-Brown, N. Mercado-Silva, and J.G. Okie. 2013. The Malthusian-Darwinian dynamic and the trajectory of civilization. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 28:127-130.
Hammond, S.T., J.H. Brown, J.R. Burger, M. Chang, T.P. Flanagan, T.S. Fristoe, S.T. Hammond, A. Kodric-Brown, and J.G. Okie. 2013. Bankrupting nature for the (temporary) wealth of nations. Trends in Ecology and Evolution. 28:576-577.
Nekola, J.C., J.H. Brown, A. Kodric-Brown, J.G. Okie. 2013. Global sustainability versus the Malthusian-Darwinian dynamic: a reply to Rull. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 28:444.
Brown, J.H., J.R. Burger, W. Burnside, M. Chang, A. Davidson, T. Fristoe, M. Hamilton, S. Hammond, A. Kodric-Brown, N. Mercado-Silva, J. Nekola, and J.G. Okie. 2013. Gasoline and Fertility. Nautilus 001: http://nautil.us/issue/1/what-makes-you-so-special/gasoline-and-fertility.
Burger, J.R., C.D. Allen, J. H. Brown, W.R. Burnside, A.D. Davidson, T.S. Fristoe, M.J. Hamilton, N. Mercado-Silva, J.C. Nekola, J.G. Okie, and W. Zuo. 2012. The macroecology of sustainability. PLoS Biology 10(6):e1001345.
Collins, S.L., S.E. Koerner, J.A. Plaut, J.G. Okie, D. Brese, L.B. Calabrese, A. Carvajal, R.J. Evansen, and E. Nonaka. 2012. Stability of tallgrass prairie during a 19-year increase in growing season precipitation. Functional ecology 26:1450-1459.
Okie, J.G. 2012. Microorganisms, in Metabolic Ecology: A Scaling Approach (eds R.M. Sibly, J.H. Brown, and A. Kodric-Brown), Jon Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK.
Evans, A.R., D.O. Jones, A.G. Boyer, J.H. Brown, D.P. Costa, S.K.M. Ernest, E.M.G. Fitzgerald, M. Fortelius, J.L. Gittleman, M.J. Hamilton, L.E. Harding, K. Lintulaakso, S.K. Lyons, J.G. Okie, J.J. Saarinen, R.M. Sibly, F.A. Smith, P.R. Stephens, J. Theodor, and M.D. Uhen. 2012. The maximum rate of mammal evolution. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 109:4187-4190.
Brown, J.H., W. Burnside, A.D Davidson, J.P. DeLong, B. Dunn, M.J. Hamilton, J.C. Nekola, J.G. Okie, N.M. Silva, and W. Zuo. 2011. Energetic limits to economic growth. BioScience 61:19-26.
Smith, F.A., A.G. Boyer, J.H. Brown, D.P. Costa, T. Dayan, S.K.M. Ernest, A.R. Evans, M. Fortelius, J.L. Gittleman, M.J. Hamilton, L.E. Harding, K. Lintulaakso, S.K. Lyons, Christy McCain, J.G. Okie, J.J. Saarinen, R. Sibly, P.R. Stephens, J. Theodor, and M.D. Uhen. 2010. The evolution of maximum body size of terrestrial mammals. Science 330:1216-1219.
Sandel, B., L.J. Goldstein, N.J.B. Kraft, J.G. Okie, M.I. Shuldman, D.D. Ackerly, E.E. Cleland and K.N. Suding. 2010. Contrasting trait responses in plant communities to experimental and geographic variation in precipitation. New Phytologist 188:565-575.
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. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 107:12941-12945.
Okie, J.G., and J.H. Brown. 2009. Niches, body sizes, and the disassembly of mammal communities on the Sunda Shelf islands. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106:19679-19684.