Our lab is focused on population biology and population ecology. Thus, we explore questions that integrate ecology, evolution, behavior, and genetics. The study system we explore is both question and data rich thus allowing students to explore projects that contribute to a number of rapidly developing fields.
We focus primarily on a study system that involves the interaction of the Cynipid gall former, Belonocnema treatae, with its host plants (species of live oak across its geographic range) and its diverse natural enemy community. Our studies range from assessing dynamics within and across trophic levels in field populations to manipulative experiments conducted in both field and greenhouse settings and the application of molecular genetic tools.
Ongoing projects are described at the current projects page and include
Demic adaptation to individual host plants
Host plant mediated spatial and temporal natural selection on gall former traits
Ecological, morphological, and genetic differentiation across host plants
Hypersensitive response, gall induction, and variation in plant defense
Comparative reproductive biology of sexual and asexual generations
Maintenance of complex life cycles
Geographic variation in community ecology of oak gallers and natural enemies
Sex determination and genome evolution in cynipids