Dr. Jorge Soberón

Jorge Soberon
  • University Distinguished Professor
  • Research Interests: Species Distribution Patterns, Macroecology, Biogeography, Biodiversity Governance and Policy

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Dr. Jorge Soberón is mainly interested in documenting and understanding large-scale spatial patterns in the biodiversity of terrestrial species. I was born in Mexico, where I was educated as a biologist at the National University of Mexico. I got my Master’s degree there, and then a PhD at Imperial College, in London. Back in Mexico, in 1983, I worked at the National University for ten years, and then I was seconded to the national biodiversity agency (CONABIO), where I served as executive secretary for 13 years. Then in 2005 I moved to the University of Kansas, to live again the life of a scientist and a teacher.


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


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

Selected Publications

Qiao, Hiujie, Xiao Feng, Luis Escobar, Town Peterson, Jorge Soberon, G Zhu, and Monica Papes. 2019. “An Evaluation of Transferability of Ecological Niche Models.” Journal Articles. ECOGRAPHY 42: 521–34. https://doi.org/10.1111/ecog.03986.
Soberon, Jorge, A. Townsend Peterson, and Luis Osorio-Olvera. 2018. “A Comment on Species Are Not Most Abundant in the Centre of Their Geographic Range or Climatic Niche.” Journal Articles. Rethinking Ecology 3: 13–18.
Cooper, Jacob, and Jorge Soberon. 2018. “Creating Individual Accessible Area Hypotheses Improves Stacked Species Distribution Model Performance.” Journal Articles. Global Ecology and Biogeography 27: 156–65. https://doi.org/10.1111/geb.12678.
Peterson, A. Townsend, and Jorge Soberon. 2018. “Essential Biodiversity Variables Are Not Global.” Journal Articles. Biodiversity and Conservation 27 (5): 1277–88.
Hensz, Chris, and Jorge Soberon. 2018. “Participation in the Convention on Migratory Species: A Biogeographic Assessment.” Journal Articles. Ambio. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-018-1024-0.
Lira-Noriega, Andres, Jorge Soberon, and Julian Equihua. 2018. “Potential Invasion of Exotic Ambrosia Beetles Xyleborus Glabratus and Euwallacea Sp. in Mexico: A Major Threat for Native and Cultivated Forest Ecosystems.” Journal Articles. Scientific Reports 8 (10179). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-28517.
Soberon, Jorge, and Baruch Arroyo-Pena. 2017. “Are Fundamental Niches Larger than the Realized? Testing a 50-Year-Old Prediction by Hutchinson.” Journal Articles. Public Library of Science ONE 12 (4): e0175138. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0175138.
Soberon, Jorge, Luis Osorio-Olvera, and Townsend Peterson. 2017. “Conceptual Differences between Ecological Niche Modeling and Species Distribution Modeling.” Journal Articles. Revista Mexicana de Biodiversidad 88: 437–41. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rmb.2017.03.011.
Peterson, Townsend, and Jorge L Soberon. 2017. “Essential Biodiversity Variables Are Not Global.” Journal Articles. Biodiversity and Conservation. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-017-1479-5.
Ingelnoff, Kate, Christopher M Hensz, Tashitso Anamnza, Vijay Barve, Lindsay P Cambell, Jacob C Cooper, Ed Komp, et al. 2017. “Predictable Invasion Dynamics in North American Populations of the Eurasian Collared Dove Streptopelia Decaocto.” Journal Articles. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 284: 20171157. https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2017.1157.
Simmoes, Marianna, Bruce Lieberman, Jorge Soberon, and Townsend Peterson. 2017. “Testing Environmental Correlates of Clines in Clades: An Example from Cassidine Beetles.” Journal Articles. Insect Conservation and Diversity 10: 472–82.
Qiao, Hujie, Luis Escobar, Erin Saupe, Liquiang Ji, and Jorge Soberon. 2017. “Using the KDE Method to Model Ecological Niches: A Response to Blonder et Al.” Journal Articles. Global Ecology and Biogeography 26: 1076–77. https://doi.org/10.1111/geb.12610.
P├⌐rez-Moreno, Heidi, Enrique Martinez-Meyer, Jorge Sober├│n, and Octavio Rojas-Soto. 2016. “Climatic Patterns in the Establishment of Wintering Areas by North American Migratory Birds.” Journal Articles. Ecology and Evolution 6 (7): 2022–33. https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.1973.
Qiao, Huijie, A. Townsend Peterson, Lindsay P. Campbell, Jorge Sober├│n, and Luis E. Escobar. 2016. “NicheA: Creating Virtual Species and Ecological Niches in Multivariate Environmental Scenarios.” Journal Articles. Ecography 39: 1–9. https://doi.org/10.1111/ecog.01961.
Osorio-Olvera, Luis, Manuel Falconi, and Jorge Soberon. 2016. “On the Relationship between Habitat Suitability and Population Abundance under Different Dispersal Scenarios.” Journal Articles. Revista Mexicana de Biodiversidad 87 (3): 1080–88. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rmb.2016.07.001.
Soberon, Jorge M, and Jeff Cavner. 2015. “Indices of Biodiversity Pattern Based on Presence-Absence Matrices: A GIS Implementation.” Journal Articles. Biodiversity Informatics 10 (October): 22–34.
Qiao, Hiujie, Jorge M Sober├│n, and Townsend Peterson. 2015. “No Silver Bullets in Correlative Ecological Niche Modelling: Insights from Testing among Many Potential Algorithms for Niche Estimation.” Journal Articles. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 6 (September): 1126–36. https://doi.org/10.1111/2041-210X.12397.
Peterson, A. Townsend, Jorge M Sober├│n, and Leonard Krishtalka. 2015. “A Global Perspective on Decadal Challenges and Priorities in Biodiversity Informatics.” Journal Articles. BMC Ecology 15 (1): 1–9.
Manthey, Joe, Lindsay Campbell, Erin Saupe, Jorge Soberon, Chris Hensz, Corinne Myers, Hannah Owens, et al. 2015. “A Test of Niche Centrality as a Determinant of Population Trends and Conservation Status in Threatened and Endangered North American Birds.” Journal Articles. Endangered Species Research 26 (January): 201–8. https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00646.
Sober├│n, Jorge M, and A. Townsend Peterson. 2015. “Biodiversity Governance: A Tower of Babel of Scales and Cultures.” Journal Articles. PLOS Biology 13 (3): e1002108–e1002108.
Saupe, Erin E, Hiujie Qiao, Jonathan R Hendricks, Roger W Portell, Stephen J Hunter, Jorge M Sober├│n, and Bruce S Lieberman. 2015. “Niche Breadth and Geographic Range Size as Determinants of Species Survival on Geological Time Scales.” Journal Articles. Global Ecology and Biogeography. https://doi.org/10.1111/geb.12333.
Sober├│n, Jorge. 2015. “Pairwise versus Presence-Absence Approaches for Analysing Biodiversity Patterns.” Journal Articles. Journal of Biogeography 42 (4): 807–8.
Sarukh├ín, Jose, Tania Urquiza-Haas, Patricia Koleff, Julia Carabias, Rodolfo Dirzo, Exequiel Ezcurra, Sergio Cerdeira-Estrada, and Jorge Sober├│n. 2015. “Strategic Actions to Value, Conserve, and Restore the Natural Capital of Megadiversity Countries: The Case of Mexico.” Journal Articles. BioScience 65 (2): 164–73. https://doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biu195.
Peterson, A. Townsend, Adolfo G Navarro-Siguenza, Enrique Martinez-Meyer, Angela P Cuervo-Robayo, Humberto Berlanga, and Jorge M Soberon. 2015. “Twentieth Century Turnover of Mexican Endemic Avifaunas: Landscape Change versus Climate Drivers.” Journal Articles. Science Advances 1 (4): e1400071.
Brooks, Thomas M, John Lamoreux, and Jorge Sober├│n. 2014. “IPBES ? IPCC.” Journal Articles. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 29 (10): 543ΓÇô545.
Sarukhan, Jose, Tania Urquiza-Hass, Patricia Koleff, Rodolfo Dirzo, Exequiel Ezcurra, Sergio Cerdeira-Estrada, and Jorge Soberon. 2014. “Strategic Actions to Value, Conserve, and Restore the Natural Capital of Megadiversity Countries: The Case of Mexico.” Journal Articles. BioScience. https://doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biu195.
Lira-Noriega, Andres, and Jorge Soberon. 2014. “The Relationship among Biodiversity, Governance,  Wealth and Scientific Capacity at a Country Level: Disaggregation and Prioritization.” Journal Articles. Ambio. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-014-0581-0.
Lira-Noriega, A, J Sober├│n, and C P Miller. 2013. “Process-Based and Correlative Modeling of  Desert Mistletoe Distribution: A Multiscalar Approach.” Journal Articles. Ecosphere 4:9.

Selected Presentations

Soberon, J. L. (6/18/2017 - 6/20/2017). 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. http://www.spnhc2017denver.org/program/
Soberon, J. L. (3/29/2017 - 3/31/2017). Developing Biodiversity Observation Networks in Latin America with Essential Biodiversity Variables. Center for Latin American Studies, Stanford University
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

Awards & Honors

2016 Highly-cited researcher.
2015 Highly-cited researcher.
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


Mostly I serve both in the Biodiversity Institute and the EEB committees, and in a large number of international boards and panels.