Ph.D. Biology, The University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
My research focuses on the role that host variation plays in driving the dynamics of consumers. Much of the empirical work that we do involves the association between cactus moths and the Opuntioid cacti (the prickly pears) that serve as their hosts. We are especially interested in the patterns of macronutrient content in these hosts and how the nutritional value that they represent influences consumer fitness. We are also working on theoretical models that can be used to assess how nutritional quality of hosts can influence the local and regional dynamics of associated consumers.
M.S. Biology, Southern Illinois University
My research primarily focuses on 1) identifying abiotic and biotic factors that generate variation in host or resource quality and 2) quantifying how this heterogeneity among hosts influences the fitness and distributions of native and invasive, oligophagous consumers. I am particularly interested in quantifying the extent of spatiotemporal variation in prickly-pear cacti macronutrient content (carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins) and how that heterogeneity may influence cactus moth-Opuntia associations. I am currently sampling Opuntia throughout the southern United States to identify factors that generate variation in host quality. I will also use artificial diet to investigate how heterogeneity in food quality influences cactus moth fitness. I will then use these data to develop mechanistic models of cactus moth distributions.