Kate Eisen '12
Ph.D. Candidate, Cornell University
Species interactions affect the distribution and evolution of multiple floral traits in California native wildflowers
Determining how ecological interactions and evolutionary trajectories vary across communities represents a fundamental goal of evolutionary ecology. In animal-pollinated flowering plants, pollinator sharing among co-occurring plants can shape the structure of ecological communities and the evolution of species' traits. My research examines patterns of species co-occurrence and the distribution and differentiation of traits across communities of annual wildflower species that are native to California in the genus Clarkia. My results from field and greenhouse studies indicate that species interactions may shape ecological communities on multiple levels and that a plant's local neighborhood can affect its evolutionary trajectory.