Empirical Study Systems

While I aim for results of my theoretical and empirical studies to extend to insights into many diverse systems world-wide, my empirical field work is currently focused on interspecific interactions in the Sonoran Desert of Mexico and the U.S. My empirical studies span pairwise interactions to food web modules and ecological networks. In particular, I maintain long-term studies of coevolved pollinating seed-consuming interactions between senita cacti and senita moths, in which the behavioral adaptation of active pollination by adult moths accompanies floral oviposition and larval fruit consumption of senita cacti. I also study multi-species interactions between ~15 ant species and senita cacti, in which the plants produce extrafloral nectar resources that attract and reward ants for their defense against natural enemies and that may also distract ants from floral resources. My studies of pairwise interactions between senita cacti and senita moths have expanded into studies of the senita food web module, in which multiple types of interactions occur, including plant-pollinator, plant-seed disperser, plant-ant, plant-herbivore, plant-florivore, seed-granivore, seed-nurse plant, and parasitoid-host interactions. Likewise, my studies of defense mutualisms between senita cacti and multiple ant species have expanded into studies of mutualistic plant-ant networks at both local and broad geographic scales.