Phone: (904) 620-1934
Office: Building 59, Room 2306
Applied Ecology, Conservation, local bogs, insects and carnivorous plants, UNF conserved lands
Areas of Expertise
Teaching Responsibilities: General Biology I, Current Applications in Biology: The debate between evolution and creation "science", Ecology, Conservation Biology, Plant Anatomy and Physiology, Entomology, Quantitative Ecology, Methods in Ecological Restoration, and Readings in Ecology and Evolution
B.A. (Biology) Univ. of Missouri - St. Louis (1984)
M.S. (Biology) Univ. of Missouri - St. Louis (1986)
Ph.D. (Biological Sciences) Florida State Univ. (1991)
Post-doc: Univ. South Florida (1991-1997); New Mexico State Univ. (1997)
In general, my research focuses on the ecology and evolution of plant-insect interactions. I am especially interested in the factors that affect host range expansion and sympatric divergence between host-associated populations of herbivorous insects. Specifically, my students and I are investigating whether plant-specific differences in larval development time are capable of producing genetic divergence in the gall midge, Asphondylia borrichiae. Such a scenario is possible if gene flow is greatly reduced between temporally-isolated sympatric host-associated populations of the gall midge. This project is conducted using native populations of Asphondylia along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the southeastern U.S.
In addition, my students and I are investigating the effects of insect herbivory on the production of tannins (inducible polyphenolics) in turkey oak (Quercus laevis). This work focuses on the relationships between the intensity and timing of insect damage on the wounding response of turkey oak. In particular, I am interested in whether the response is localized to the site of damage or whether the trees produce elevated levels of tannins systemically. We are also are also studying the causes responsible for the inter-population differences in the survival, performance and recruitment of the hooded pitcher plant, Sarracenia minor. The overall objective of the study is to determine if this ecologically threatened carnivorous plant can serve as a useful indicator species. We are developing a growth response model of S. minor under variable environmental conditions, which will be tested as an index for wetland quality. Both of these projects are being conducted at UNF, which consists of a central core campus surrounded by large expanses of semi-natural ecosystems that are characteristic of north Florida.