Who we are


Liz Pásztor

a theorist


 Géza Meszéna

a physicist

I was educated in biology and philosophy at Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest. Being immensely interested in the structure of science I studied the various approaches to adaptation research (PhD work), developed an understanding of balancing mortality through density-dependent life-history optimization with Géza and Éva Kisdi, designed field experiments for the detection of context-dependent costs of reproduction paid by collared flycatchers and great tits nesting in boxes and got familiar with statistical methods by analysing the results. I also assisted in the development of a general theory of coexistence by Géza and his students. Recently, I' m engaged in understanding basic plant strategies and the conceptual structure of ecology.

I am primarily a teacher perhaps, who used to run lab courses in genetics, hold seminars in biostatistics and student research management and give lectures in population genetics, evolutionary biology and evolutionary ecology. You may find more about me at Researchgate.

I am a physicist by education with some background in biology. My work with Liz on density-dependent life-history, then my participation in the adaptive dynamics movement were my introduction to eco-evolutionary theory. I was attracted to this field by the wish to work on fundamental issues. I got fascinated by the, apparently contradictory, relationship between adaptation and diversity. If the “fittest wins”, why are there so many winners? This is niche theory from the ecological point of view, and speciation from the evolutionary one. From theoretical physics perspective, this is an issue of unification of different theories. Unification should be based on deep biological and mathematical insight. Ultimately, the two should be essentially the same. This is what I tried to implement in my work and contribute to the current book. I was also happy to serve the unification by organizing meetings on adaptive dynamics and speciation. Find more on my web page.


Zoltán Botta-Dukát

 a vegetation scientist

Gabi_foto (1)

Gabriella Magyar

 a modeler


Tom Czárán

a theoretical evolutionary ecologist

I graduated as an agro-chemist and was educated in nature conservation at Georgikon Faculty, Keszthely. I’ve started my career as a phytosociologist and took my PhD in this field.  Later I studied plant invasions and edited books on most important invasive plants in Hungary. Recently my research focuses on trait-based assembly rules in plant communities. My specialty is applying statistical methods for analyzing ecological data. I developed new methods for multivariate data analysis (e.g. for measuring fidelity or co-occurrence based measure of specialization), introduced methods into vegetation science from other fields (e.g. semi-supervised classification) and tested the existing methods in simulated datasets. I’m working in a research institute but regularly teach statistics for biologist at Eötvös Loránd university. Since I’m a field ecologist who works with real data, but can understand the mathematical models as well, my main contribution to the book was hunting for good field examples that illustrate the use of principles in complicated situations. I’m the editor-in-chief of Acta Botanica Hungarica and an associate editor of Journal of Vegetation Science. You may find more information on me in my webpage or in ResearchGate.

I graduated as a biologist from the Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest. My main interest was always the effects of spatiality and finiteness on population patterns. In my graduate work I investigated the effect of clonal plants on the spatial heterogeneity of a habitat (depletion and resource translocation) in a spatially explicit model. I made my Ph.D at the same University on spatial modelling of plant competition strategies. As a part of my Ph.D I spent a very enlightening and fruitful time at the Radboud University Nijmegen doing modelling for the department of Experimental Plant Ecology. I investigated the costs and benefits of plastic division of labour in clonal plants -  a form of phenotypic plasticity experimentally shown by them -  by modelling in spatially and temporally heterogeneous environments, on two essential resources. I have shown that plastic division of labour (specialization for the locally abundant resource and exchange of resources) is advantageous under a wide range of conditions, not only in environments studied experimentally. During my Ph.D in Budapest I have taught Biometry to biology students and was involved in the organization of several conferences and workshops. Now I do applied research in another branch of science connecting biology and mathematics.

I have started my career in the mid-eighties as a theoretical ecologist, with my main interest then focused on plant community dynamics in space and time, the work on which topic concluded in a monograph (Czárán, 1998). It was about a decade later that my focus gradually shifted towards evolutionary dynamics, mostly in relation to population dynamics in microorganisms, where the time scale of ecological and evolutionary changes are relatively close to one another. Modelling spatiotemporal eco-evolutionary processes have later proven to be very useful in testing the ecological feasibility of scenarios of the origin of life within a hypothetical prebiotic RNA-World. This line of work has led to the development of the Metabolically Coupled Replicator System, a family of spatial cooperation-competition models for prebiotic evolution. My latest addition to these topics is that of modelling human cooperation and communication in a co-evolutionary context, in an attempt to explain the early evolution of our language capacity.


Homepage and publications • ResearchGate profile  • Google Scholar profile


Czárán T. 1998. Spatiotemporal models of population and community dynamics. Chapman & Hall, London; Springer Verlag.