Dr. Jorge Soberón is mainly interested in documenting and understanding large-scale spatial patterns in the biodiversity of terrestrial species.
Ph.D., Imperial College, University of London
M.S., Biology / Ecology and Biogeography, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
B.S., Biology, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
I teach mostly topics related to quantitative and mathematical ecology. Multivariate Methods, Population Ecology (theory), mathematical modeling. My philosophy of teaching is simple: I like students to understand the fundamentals and to be able to do things. Therefore I emphasize a "workshop" mode of teaching, with everybody in a computer actually doing things with data. On the other hand, I like telling stories related to the subject topic, and my point of view about things.
- Focus on the fundamentals
- Emphasize doing
- Provide historical context
- Enjoy the subject
- Be rigorous with methods, language and concepts
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.
- Biodiversity patterns, biodiversity policy, niche theory, conservation biology
Mostly I serve both in the Biodiversity Institute and the EEB committees, and in a large number of international boards and panels.
Soberon, J., Osorio-Olvera, L., & Peterson, T. (in press). Conceptual differences between ecological niche modeling and species distribution modeling. Revista Mexicana de Biodiversidad. DOI:
Soberon, J., & Arroyo-Pena, B. (2017). Are fundamental niches larger than the realized? Testing a 50-year-old prediction by Hutchinson. Public Library of Science ONE, 12(4), e0175138. DOI:
Pérez-Moreno, H., Martinez-Meyer, E., Soberón, J., & Rojas-Soto, O. (2016). Climatic patterns in the establishment of wintering areas by North American migratory birds. Ecology and Evolution, 6(7), 2022-2033. DOI: 10.1002/ece3.1973
Qiao, H., Peterson, A. Townsend, Campbell, L. P., Soberón, J., & Escobar, L. E. (2016). NicheA: Creating Virtual Species and Ecological Niches in Multivariate Environmental Scenarios. Ecography, 39, 1-9. DOI: 10.1111/ecog.01961
Osorio-Olvera, L., Falconi, M., & Soberon, J. (2016). On the relationship between habitat suitability and population abundance under different dispersal scenarios. Revista Mexicana de Biodiversidad, 87(3), 1080-1088. DOI:
Peterson, A. Townsend, Soberón, J. M, & Krishtalka, L. (2015). A global perspective on decadal challenges and priorities in biodiversity informatics. BMC Ecology, 15(1), 1-9.
Soberón, J. M, & Peterson, A. Townsend (2015). Biodiversity Governance: A Tower of Babel of Scales and Cultures. PLOS Biology, 13(3), e1002108-e1002108.
Saupe, E. E, Qiao, H., Hendricks, J. R, Portell, R. W, Hunter, S. J, Soberón, J. M, & Lieberman, B. S (2015). Niche breadth and geographic range size as determinants of species survival on geological time scales. Global Ecology and Biogeography. DOI:10.1111/geb.12333
Qiao, H., Soberón, J. M, & Peterson, T. (2015). No silver bullets in correlative ecological niche modelling: insights from testing among many potential algorithms for niche estimation. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 6, 1126-1136. DOI:10.1111/2041-210X.12397
Soberón, J. (2015). Pairwise versus presence–absence approaches for analysing biodiversity patterns. Journal of Biogeography, 42(4), 807-808.
Sarukhán, J., Urquiza-Haas, T., Koleff, P., Carabias, J., Dirzo, R., Ezcurra, E., Cerdeira-Estrada, S., & Soberón, J. (2015). Strategic actions to value, conserve, and restore the natural capital of megadiversity countries: the case of Mexico. BioScience, 65(2), 164-173. DOI:10.1093/biosci/biu195
Peterson, A. Townsend, Navarro-Siguenza, A. G, Martinez-Meyer, E., Cuervo-Robayo, A. P, Berlanga, H., & Soberon, J. M (2015). Twentieth century turnover of Mexican endemic avifaunas: Landscape change versus climate drivers. Science Advances, 1(4), e1400071.
Soberon, J. M, & Cavner, J. (2015). Indices of Biodiversity Pattern Based on Presence-Absence Matrices: A GIS Implementation. Biodiversity Informatics, 10, 22-34.
Manthey, J., Campbell, L., Saupe, E., Soberon, J., Hensz, C., Myers, C., Owens, H., Ingelnoff, K., Peterson, T., Barve, N., Lira-Noriega, A., & Barve, V. (2015). A test of niche centrality as a determinant of population trends and conservation status in threatened and endangered North American Birds. Endangered Species Research, 26, 201-208. DOI:10.3354/esr00646
Brooks, T. M, Lamoreux, J., & Soberón, J. (2014). IPBES ≠ IPCC. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 29(10), 543–545.
Sarukhan, J., Urquiza-Hass, T., Koleff, P., Dirzo, R., Ezcurra, E., Cerdeira-Estrada, S., & Soberon, J. (2014). Strategic Actions to Value, Conserve, and Restore the Natural Capital of Megadiversity Countries: The Case of Mexico. BioScience. DOI:10.1093/biosci/biu195
Lira-Noriega, A., & Soberon, J. (2014). The relationship among biodiversity, governance, wealth and scientific capacity at a country level: disaggregation and prioritization. Ambio. DOI: 10.1007/s13280-014-0581-0
Lira-Noriega, A., Soberón, J., & Miller, C. P (2013). Process-based and correlative modeling of desert mistletoe distribution: a multiscalar approach. Ecosphere, 4:9.
Selected Awards & Honors
2016 Highly-cited researcher.
2015 Highly-cited researcher.