Central to ecology and evolution is an understanding of the myriad ways in which organisms influence each other through their interactions. A hallmark of plant-herbivore interactions, however, is that they are spatially variable, with outcomes of interactions often depending on the environmental conditions where the interactions play out. This variability, or context-dependence, hinders the development of general predictive models of plant-herbivore interactions and therefore represents an important area for investigation. The goal of the plant-herbivore interaction lab is to develop a framework for predicting how environmental factors influence the magnitude of impact that plant-herbivore interactions have on the evolution of traits, population dynamics, and community composition for both plants and insects. We work in natural and managed ecosystems at scales from local neighborhoods to populations and communities distributed across regional environmental gradients. Below are the major themes of my research program.

Spatial variation in herbivore pressure


Evolutionary ecology of plant defense against herbivory



Context-dependency of plant-herbivore interactions

Longleaf wiregrass


Insect community ecology

schalu adult