Study System

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