“ Biodiversity thus represents a continuum across a variety of scales, encompassing ecological, and phylogenetic components within a temporal/spatial framework.” -Brooks and McLennan 2002
My work studies the eco-evolutionary processes that allow species to maintain interactions and the effect of those interactions on species diversity.
Most of my work to date focuses in one of two general topics:
1.Host plant specialization and local adaptation My research examines life history trade-offs and host plant specificity in herbivorous insects as mechanisms underlying species diversification. I study these mechanisms with experimental and genetic approaches by comparing inter- and intraspecific insect variation in host plant preference and larval performance among different populations. I am currently working with the milkweed stem weevil in the genus Rhyssomatus that feeds exclusively on plants in the genus Asclepias, asking questions on host plant specialization and local adaptation mediated through host plants, geographic barriers, and environmental clines.
2. Diet compensation and its consequences for species interactions I study trade-offs in life history traits in response to changes in diet or feeding behavior. I use field and lab experiments to determine how insects compensate their diet when there are diet deficiencies in micro- and macro-nutrients, and how these compensatory behaviors can affect the insect interactions with other species, such as host plants or gut microbes.
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