Brian McGill

Research Interests

  • Global Change
  • Biodiversity
  • Large Scale Ecology
  • Decision Support Systems in Stakeholder Engagement
  • Sustainability Science

Research Project

Student Opportunities:

Changes frequently – Contact Dr. McGill


  • BIO 205 Natural History of Maine
  • BIO 597 Advanced Biometry for Environmental Science
  • BIO 525 Community Ecology
  • EES 590 Readings in Sustainability Science
  • EES 597 Boundary Spanning for Sustainability Solutions
  • EES 597 Ecology and Evolution of Everything


  • Michigan State University, NSF Interdisciplinary Informatics Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • University of Arizona, Ph.D. (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology)
  • Harvard University, A.B. (Mathematics)


Brian McGill is a macroecologist and faculty member at the University of Maine. His research examines how human-caused global change, especially global warming and land cover change, affect communities, biodiversity, and global ecology. The goal of McGill’s work is to understand the patterns and processes controlling the distribution and abundance of organisms at medium to large scales in order to develop more predictive theories of distribution and abundance. McGill’s current projects pertain to biodiversity at large scales – large areas of space, long periods of time, and many species. He studies species-specific trait information using advanced regression and spatial and temporal statistical methods to analyze the data. His Maine-specific research seeks to understand how climate change is going to affect the plants, animals, and crops in the state. In the short term, one question his work is addressing is whether or not potatoes and blueberries will continue to grow in Maine’s climate. His SSI project addressed diverse stakeholders’ questions about the effects of climate change on key organisms in Maine in order to help stakeholders better plan for the future.

McGill’s research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, Canadian Fund For Innovation, iPlant, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research, the Senator George J. Mitchell Center and Maine’s Sustainability Solutions Initiative, and Maine EPSCoR.

His work has been published in several peer reviewed journals including the American Journal of Botany, Biodiversity and Conservation, Ecological Informatics, Ecology, Ecosystems, Journal of Plant Ecology, Philosophy of Science, Trends in Ecology and Evolution, and Oikos. He is the author of multiple book chapters on biodiversity, species abundance distribution, and spatial statistics, editor of a book on measurement of biodiversity and co-author of a textbook on Community Ecology. He is Editor-in-Chief of Global Ecology and Biogeography, and he is a Fellow of the Ecological Society of America.

Selected Publications

Journal Articles:

Leung, Brian, Anna L. Hargreaves, Dan A. Greenberg, Brian J. McGill, Maria Dornelas, Robin Freeman “Clustered versus catastrophic global vertebrate declines” (Nature 588, 267–271(2020))

Miller, K., McGill, B.J., Weed, A., Seirup, C., Comsikey, J., Matthews, E., Perles, S., Schmit, JP. (Accepted). Long-term trends indicate that invasive plants are pervasive and increasing in eastern national parks Ecological Applications.

Hannah, L., Roehrdanz, P.R., Marquet, P.A., Enquist, B.J., Midgley, G., Foden, W., Lovett, J.C., Corlett, R.T., Corcoran, D., Butchart, S.H.M., Boyle, B., Feng, X., Maitner, B., Fajardo, J. McGill, B.J., Merow, C., Morueta-Holm, N., Newman, E.A., Park, D., Raes, N., Svenning, J. (2020). 30% land conservation and climate action reduces tropical extinction risk by more than 50%. Ecography.

Antão, L.H., McGill, B., Magurran, A.E., Soares, A.M., Dornelas, M. (2019). β‐diversity scaling patterns are consistent across metrics and taxa. Ecography, 42(5), 1012-1023.

McGill, B J., Chase, J.M., Hortal, J., Overcast, I., Rominger, A.J., Rosindell, J., Borges, P., Emerson, B.C., Etienne, R., Hickerson, M.J., Mahler, D. L., Massol, F., McGaughran, A., Neves, P., Parent, C., Patino, J., Ruffley, M., Wagner, C.E., Gillespie, R. (2019). Unifying macroecology and macroevolution to answer fundamental questions about biodiversity. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 28(12), 1925-1936.

Dornelas, M., Madin, E.M., Bunce, M., DiBattista, J.D., Johnson, M., Madin, J.S., Magurran, AE., McGill, B.J., Pettorelli, N.,  Pizarro, O., Williams, S.B., Winter, M., Bates, A.E. (2019). Towards a macroscope: Leveraging technology to transform the breadth, scale and resolution of macroecological data. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 28(12), 1937-1948.

McGill, B.J. (2019). The what, how and why of doing macroecology. Global ecology and biogeography, 28(1), 6-17.

Blowes, S A., Supp, S.R., Antão, L.H., Bates, A., Bruelheide, H., Chase, J.M., Moyes, F., Magurran, A., McGill, B., Myers-Smith, I.H., Winter, M., Bjorkman, A.E., Bowler, D.E., Byrnes, J.E.K., Gonzalez, A., Hines, J., Isbell, F., Jones, H.P., Navarro, L.M., Thompson, P.L., Vellend, M., Waldock, C., Dornelas, M. (2019). The geography of biodiversity change in marine and terrestrial assemblages. Science, 366(6463), 339-345.

Enquist, B.J., Feng, X., Boyle, B., Maitner, B., Newman, E.A., Jørgensen, P.M., Roehrdanz, P.R., Thiers, B.M., Burger, J.R., Corlett, R.T., Couvreur, T.L.P., Dauby, G., Donoghue, J.C., Foden, W., Lovett, J.C., Marquet, P.A. Merow, C., Midgley, G., Morueta-Holme, N., Neves, D.M., Oliveira-Filho, A.T., Kraft, N.J.B., Park, D.S., Peet, R.K., Pillet, M., Serra-Diaz, J.M., Sandel, B., Schildhauer, M., Šímová, I., Violle, C., Wieringa, J.J., Wiser, S.K., Hannah, L., Svenning, J., McGill, B.J. (2019). The commonness of rarity: Global and future distribution of rarity across land plants. Science Advances, 5(11), eaaz0414.

Davies, T.J., Regetz, J., Wolkovich, E.M., & McGill, B.J. (2019). Phylogenetically weighted regression: A method for modelling non‐stationarity on evolutionary trees. Global ecology and biogeography, 28(2), 275-285.

McGlinn, D.J., Xiao, X., May, F., Gotelli, N. J., Engel, T., Blowes, S.A., Knight, T.M., Purschke, O., Chase, J.M., McGill, B.J. (2019). Measurement of Biodiversity (MoB): A method to separate the scale‐dependent effects of species abundance distribution, density, and aggregation on diversity change. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 10(2), 258-269.

Miller, K.M., & McGill, B.J. (2019). Compounding human stressors cause major regeneration debt in over half of eastern US forests. Journal of Applied Ecology, 56(6), 1355-1366.

McGill, B., Araújo, M., Franklin, J., Linder, H.P., & Dawson, M.N. (2018). Writing the future of biogeography. Frontiers of Biogeography, 10(3-4).

Maitner, B.S., Boyle, B., Casler, N., Condit, R., Donoghue, J., Durán, S. M., Guaderrama, D., Hinchliff, C.E., Jørgensen, P.M., Kraft N.J.B., McGill, B., Merow, C., Morueta-Holme, N., Peet, R.K., Sandel, B.,Schildhauer, M., Smith., S.A., Svenning, J., Thiers, B., Violle, C., Wiser, S., Enquist, B.J. (2018). The bien r package: A tool to access the Botanical Information and Ecology Network (BIEN) database. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 9(2), 373-379.

Šímová, I., Violle, C., Svenning, J.C., Kattge, J., Engemann, K., Sandel, B., Peet, R.K., Wiser, S., Blonder, B., McGill, B.J., Boyle, B., Morueta-Holme, N., Kraft, N.J.B., von Bodegom, P., Gutiérrez, A.G., Bahn, M., Ozinga, W.A., Tószögyová, A., Enquist, B.J. (2018). Spatial patterns and climate relationships of major plant traits in the New World differ between woody and herbaceous species. Journal of Biogeography, 45(4), 895-916.

Messier, J., Violle, C., Enquist, B.J., Lechowicz, M.J., & McGill, B.J. (2018). Similarities and differences in intrapopulation trait correlations of co‐occurring tree species: consistent water‐use relationships amid widely different correlation patterns. American Journal of Botany, 105(9), 1477-1490.

McGill, B.J., & Potochnik, A. (2018). Mechanisms are causes, not components: a response to Connolly et al. Trends in ecology & evolution, 33(5), 304-305.

Miller, K.M., & McGill, B.J. (2018). Land use and life history limit migration capacity of eastern tree species. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 27(1), 57-67.

Chase, J.M., McGill, B.J., McGlinn, D.J., May, F., Blowes, S.A., Xiao, X., Knight, T.M., Purschke, O., Gotelli, N.J. (2018). Embracing scale‐dependence to achieve a deeper understanding of biodiversity and its change across communities. Ecology Letters, 21(11), 1737-1751.

Miller, K.M., McGill, B.J., Mitchell, B.R., Comiskey, J., Dieffenbach, F.W., Matthews, E.R., Perles, S., Schmit, J.P., Weed, A.S. (2018). Eastern national parks protect greater tree species diversity than unprotected matrix forests. Forest Ecology and Management, 414, 74-84.

Messier, J., McGill, B.J., Enquist, B.J., & Lechowicz, M.J. (2017). Trait variation and integration across scales: is the leaf economic spectrum present at local scales?. Ecography, 40(6), 685-697.

Houlahan, J.E., McKinney, S.T., Anderson, T.M., & McGill, B.J. (2017). The priority of prediction in ecological understanding. Oikos, 126(1), 1-7.

Correll, M.D., Wiest, W.A., Hodgman, T.P., Shriver, W.G., Elphick, C.S., McGill, B.J., O’Brien, K.M., Olsen, B. J. (2017). Predictors of specialist avifaunal decline in coastal marshes. Conservation Biology, 31(1), 172-182.

Gotelli, N.J., Shimadzu, H., Dornelas, M., McGill, B., Moyes, F., & Magurran, A.E. (2017). Community-level regulation of temporal trends in biodiversity. Science advances, 3(7), e1700315.

Groff, S.C., Loftin, C.S., Drummond, F., Bushmann, S., McGill, B. (2016). Parameterization of the InVEST crop pollination model to spatially predict abundance of wild blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium Aiton) native bee pollinators in Maine, USA. Environmental modelling & software, 79, 1-9.

Miller, K.M., Dieffenbach, F.W., Campbell, J.P., Cass, W.B., Comiskey, J.A., Matthews, E.R., McGill, B.J., Mitchell, B.R., Perles, S.J., Sanders, S., Schmit, J.P., Smith, S., Weed, A.S. (2016). National parks in the eastern United States harbor important older forest structure compared with matrix forests. Ecosphere, 7(7), e01404.

Miller, K.M., Mitchell, B.R., & McGill, B.J. (2016). Constructing multimetric indices and testing ability of landscape metrics to assess condition of freshwater wetlands in the Northeastern US. Ecological indicators, 66, 143-152.

Parmentier, B., McGill, B.J., Wilson, A.M., Regetz, J., Jetz, W., Guralnick, R., Tuanmu, M., Schildhauer, M. (2015). Using multi‐timescale methods and satellite‐derived land surface temperature for the interpolation of daily maximum air temperature in Oregon. International Journal of Climatology, 35(13), 3862-3878.

Šímová, I., Violle, C., Kraft, N.J., Storch, D., Svenning, J.C., Boyle, B., Donoghue II, J., Jørgensen, P., McGill, B.J., Morueta-Holme, N., Piel, W.H., Peet, R.K., Regetz, J., Schildhauer, M., Spencer, N., Thiers, B., Wiser, S., Enquist, B.J. (2015). Shifts in trait means and variances in North American tree assemblages: species richness patterns are loosely related to the functional space. Ecography, 38(7), 649-658.

Magurran, A.E., Dornelas, M., Moyes, F., Gotelli, N.J., & McGill, B. (2015). Rapid biotic homogenization of marine fish assemblages. Nature communications, 6(1), 1-5.

McGill, B.J., Dornelas, M.A., Gotelli, N.J., Magurran, A.E. (2015).  Fifteen forms of biodiversity trends in the Anthropocene. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 30(2):104-113.

Lazarus, E., McGill, B. (2014). Pushing the pace of tree species migration. PLOS One9(8): e105380. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0105380.

Dornelas, M., Gotelli, N.J., McGill, B., Shimadzu, H., Moyes, F., Sievers, C., Magurran, A. E. (2014). Assemblage time series reveal biodiversity change but not systematic loss. Science, 344(6181), 296-299.

Dalby, L., McGill, B. J., Fox, A. D., & Svenning, J. C. (2014). Seasonality drives global‐scale diversity patterns in waterfowl (A nseriformes) via temporal niche exploitation. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 23(5), 550-562.

Colgan, C., Hunter, M.L., McGill, B., Weiskittel, A. (2014). Managing the middle ground: forests in the transition zone between cities and remote areas. Landscape ecology, 29(7), 1133-1143.

Samson, J., Berteaux, D., McGill, B.J., Humphries, M.M. (2011). Geographic disparities and moral hazards in the predicted impacts of climate change on human populations. Global ecology and biogeography, 20(4), 532-544.

Dornelas, M., Magurran, A.E., Buckland, S.T., Chao, A., Chazdon, R.L., Colwell, R.K., Curtis, T., Gaston, K.J., Gotelli, N.J., Kosnik, M.A., McGill, B.J., McCune, J.L., Morlon, H., Mumby, P.J. (2013). Quantifying temporal change in biodiversity: challenges and opportunities. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 280(1750), 20121931.

Violle, C., Enquist, B.J., McGill, B.J., Jiang, L.I.N., Albert, C.H., Hulshof, C., Jung, V., Messier, J. (2012). The return of the variance: intraspecific variability in community ecology. Trends in ecology & evolution, 27(4), 244-252.

Estrada-Villegas, S., McGill, B.J., & Kalko, E.K. (2012). Climate, habitat, and species interactions at different scales determine the structure of a Neotropical bat community. Ecology, 93(5), 1183-1193.


McGill, Brian J – “Large-Scale Ecology: the Science of Global Change Impacts on Biodiversity” – under contract with Oxford University Press, currently due for release summer 2021 (first draft 2/3 complete).

Mittelbach, Gary and Brian J. McGill – co-authors of “Community Ecology 2nd Edition,” (Oxford University Press, released August 2019).

Brian McGill, “A macroecological approach to the equilibrial vs. nonequilibrial debate using bird populations and communities” In The Balance of Nature and Human Impacts, ed. Klaus Rohde (Cambridge United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 103-118.

Software Programs:

2011 Palamedes (a variety of tools for exploring species abundance distributions) (currently by email to author, to be published on web).

2006 A numerical solution to the analytical form of the zero sum multinomial (available at

2004 Matlab dataframe (implements R-like data frames and models in Matlab) (

2003 Monte Carlo simulation of neutral communities for the estimation of parameters (Available at