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Jacob Moutouama

Jacob Moutouama

Research Interest

Center periphery hypothesis, Integral and matrix projection models, Ethnobiology

Faculty Advisor(s)


Degree Pursuing



2016 MS., Forestry, University of Parakou, Benin


Jacob Moutouama was born and raised in Benin, West-Africa where he received his B.S and master’s degree in forestry. In fall 2018, he joined Dr. Orou Gaoue’s Lab in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UTK in 2018 for his doctoral studies. Jacob is interested in conservation biology, evolutionary ecology
Jacob is interested in the response of endangered and endemic plant species to multiple stressors. His B.S honors project focused on the effect of local people uses on the vulnerability of Haematostaphis barteri, an endemic plant species. This study was motivated by the observation that the fruits from endangered plants are sold in local markets and consumed even though the reproductive biology of the species is still not understood. Haematostaphis barteri is a wild plant species which constitutes a source of food during the dry season which can last up to seven months each year. Jacob’s interest in the conservation biology of endangered plant species led to his master’s studies on the effects of climate change on Thunbergia atacorensis, an endemic plant species confined to mountainous regions of Northwestern Benin. Recently, Jacob was selected to participate in the Tropical Biology Association competitive field Research course in Madagascar. During this field course, he conducted research on the effect of logging on Commiphora sp. in Kirindy Forest. After the TBA experience, he worked for the Benin National Forestry office as Project assistant to digitalize the biodiversity data of protected areas and threatened species in Benin. Jacob has co-authored 3 peer-reviewed journal papers.
Currently, Jacob’s Ph.D. project focuses on the understanding of the ecological and evolutionary drivers of center-periphery dynamics in endemic plants. He is particularly interested in understanding how endemic plant differential investment in herbivory defense, pollinators, and dispersers attraction, and changes in herbivory pressure, plant-soil feedback and frequency dependence of pollinators and dispersers can explain weak population dynamics at the edge of species distribution range. This work includes conducting manipulative and common garden experiments, collecting field demographic studies, and developing mathematical models. Jacob’s career goal is to have a broad-based academic career combining teaching, research, and conservation work. The ultimate goal of the research is to communicate to stakeholders sustainable use strategies and conservation actions needed to ensure the viability of endangered plant species.

Awards and Recognitions

  1. Rufford Small Grant
  2. Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC) Seed Research Grant)
  3. National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS) Graduate Student Award
  4. Best progress toward Dissertation, Ecology and evolutionnary Biology (UT) 2019
  5. British Ecological Society (Ecologists in Africa)
  6. Breedlove, Dennis Fund Awards for Student Botanical Field Experiences
  7. McClure Scholarship, University of Tennessee at Knoxville
  8. Society for conservation Biology Graduate student Awards
  9. Idea Wild
  10. Graduate student Competition, Ecology and evolutionnary Biology (UT)
  11. Tropical Biology Association Course
Jacob Moutouama

Contact Information