- community ecology with special reference to the structure and evolution of insect-plant associations
- evolutionary ecology, population dynamics, and dispersal of phytophagous insects
"I use the insect faunae associated with goldenrods, Solidago spp., and milkweeds, Asclepias spp., as representative systems for exploring questions relating to: (1) the impact of herbivores on plant performance and succession, (2) the structure and assembly of insect communities, (3) the relationships between body size, host range, feeding style, predator defense, and phylogeny, (4) contrasts in insect-plant interactions in forests, meadows, dunes, and fens, and (5) the functioning of complex webs of species interactions. In addition, I focus studies on the adaptive syndromes and dispersal of the chrysomelid beetles and aposematic hemipterans in these associations. Recently, my work on the impact of herbivores has led me to investigate seed dispersal, seedling establishment, and seed banks. My approach to these questions involves an integrated set of field experiments and long- term comparative investigations. I have a long-standing interest in using functional classifications as a means of grouping species to better reveal patterns in nature.
My graduate students work on a wide variety of ecological problems. Current investigations concern the: (1) factors influencing the successful colonization and spread of biological control agents, (2) local adaptation and the ecological genetics of an aphid-parasitoid interaction, (3) ecology and evolution of an ant-membracid mutualism, (4) foraging strategies of ambush bugs, (5) ecological consequences of "deep traits" in cecidomyiid gall-flies, (6) effects of combining different types of feeding damage on plant performance, and (7) adaptive trade-offs between competitive ability and herbivore resistance."
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