Prof. Jorge L. Soberón

Research Centers - Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, KU Biodiversity Institute
University Distinguished Professor
Primary office:
Dyche Hall
Room 713B
University of Kansas
1345 Jayhawk Boulevard
Lawrence, KS 66045-7561


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 Autonoma de Mexico

B.S., Biology, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico


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.

Teaching Interests

  • Focus on the fundamentals
  • Emphasize doing
  • Provide historical context
  • Enjoy the subject
  • Be rigorous with methods
  • Language and concepts


Research Interests

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.

Current Research

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.

Research Interests

  • 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.

Selected Publications

Qiao, H. Feng, X. Escobar, L. Peterson, T. Soberon, J. Zhu, G. & Papes, M. (in press). An evaluation of transferability of ecological niche models. Ecography. DOI:10.1111/ecog.03986

Soberon, J. Peterson, T. & Osorio-Olvera, L. (n.d.). A comment on ΓÇ£Species are not most abundant in the centre of their geographic range or climatic nicheΓÇ¥. Rethinking Ecology, 3, 13-18.

Cooper, J. & Soberon, J. (2018). Creating individual accessible area hypotheses improves stacked species distribution model performance. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 27, 156-165. DOI:10.1111/geb.12678

Peterson, T. & Soberon, J. (2018). Essential biodiversity variables are not global. Biodiversity and Conservation, 27(5), 1277-1288.

Hensz, C. & Soberon, J. (2018). Participation in the convention on migratory species: A biogeographic assessment. Ambio. DOI:

Lira-Noriega, A. Soberon, J. & Equihua, J. (2018). Potential invasion of exotic ambrosia beetles Xyleborus glabratus and Euwallacea sp. in Mexico: A major threat for native and cultivated forest ecosystems. Scientific Reports, 8( 10179). DOI:10.1038/s41598-018-28517

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:

Soberon, J. Osorio-Olvera, L. & Peterson, T. (2017). Conceptual differences between ecological niche modeling and species distribution modeling. Revista Mexicana de Biodiversidad, 88, 437-441. DOI:

Peterson, T. & Soberon, J. L. (2017). Essential biodiversity variables are not global. Biodiversity and Conservation. DOI://

Ingelnoff, K. Hensz, C. M., Anamnza, T. Barve, V. Cambell, L. P., Cooper, J. C., Komp, E. Jimenez, L. Olson, K. V., Osorio-Olvera, L. Owens, H. L., Peterson, T. A., Samy, A. Simmoes, M. & Soberon, J. (2017). Predictable invasion dynamics in North American populations of the Eurasian collared dove Streptopelia decaocto. Proceedings of the Royal Society B., 284, 20171157. DOI:10.1098/rspb.2017.1157

Simmoes, M. Lieberman, B. Soberon, J. & Peterson, T. (2017). Testing environmental correlates of clines in clades: an example from cassidine beetles. Insect Conservation and Diversity, 10, 472-482.

Qiao, H. Escobar, L. Saupe, E. Ji, L. & Soberon, J. (2017). Using the KDE method to model ecological niches: A response to Blonder et al. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 26, 1076-1077. DOI:10.1111/geb.12610

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. T., Campbell, L. P., Sober├│n, 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. T., Sober├│n, J. M., & Krishtalka, L. (2015). A global perspective on decadal challenges and priorities in biodiversity informatics. BMC Ecology, 15(1), 1-9.

Sober├│n, J. M., & Peterson, A. T. (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., Sober├│n, 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. Sober├│n, 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

Sober├│n, J. (2015). Pairwise versus presenceΓÇôabsence 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. T., 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. & Sober├│n, J. (2014). IPBES Γëá IPCC. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 29(10), 543ΓÇô545.

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. Sober├│n, J. & Miller, C. P. (2013). Process-based and correlative modeling of desert mistletoe distribution: a multiscalar approach. Ecosphere, 4:9.

Selected Presentations

Soberon, J. L. (12/31/2017). Algunas Ideas Basicas Para la Teoría del Nicho Ecológico. VI Congreso Nacional de Ecologia, Mexico.

Soberon, J. . (12/31/2017). De la burocracia a la teoría: datos, software y ecuaciones de las áreas de distribución. V Congreso Nacional de Ecologia, Mexico. Leon, GTO., Mexico

Soberon, J. L. (06/18/2017 - 06/20/2017). Recent and novel examples (mostly in Mexico) of how digitized museum data is used in policy and practical problems. Director's Summit on Digital Data, SPNHC. Denver Museum of Natural Sciences, Denver, CO. Available Here

Soberon, J. L. (03/29/2017 - 03/31/2017). Developing Biodiversity Observation Networks in Latin America with Essential Biodiversity Variables. Center for Latin American Studies, Stanford University

Selected Awards & Honors

Distinguished Mexican Living Abroad
The Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs
2018 - Present

Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
American Academy of Arts and Sciences
2018 - Present

Named University Distinguished Professor
Board of Regents, University of Kansas
2014 - Present

2016 Highly-cited researcher.

2015 Highly-cited researcher.

KU Today
One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
5th nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets: Colleges," Military Times