University of Vermont

The College of Arts and Sciences

Department of Biology

Faculty - Alison K. Brody

Alison Brody

Alison K. Brody, Professor

  • Ph.D., University of California-Davis, 1991
  • Albertson College of Idaho 92-93, Visiting Assistant Professor
  • Stanford University 93-94, Postdoctoral Fellow
  • University of Vermont 95-2000, Assistant Professor
  • University of Vermont 01-2009, Associate Professor
  • University of Vermont 09-present, Professor
  • CV (PDF)
Area of expertise

plant-animal interactions

Contact Information
Email: Alison K. Brody

Office Hours: Monday and Wednesday 1:30 - 2:30
Marsh Life Science Building, Rm 205A
Phone: (802) 656-0449

Dr. Brody's WEBSITE


A fundamental goal of ecologists is to understand how interactions among species govern their abundance and design. Most studies examine the interactions between two species to determine, e.g., how a particular trait evolved or how one species affects another's ecology or evolution. Although examining two species interactions is tractable and provides us with a great deal of information, I believe that one must study a multitude of interactions to fully understand the patterns we observe in nature and to understand the forces that govern species abundance, distribution, population- and community-dynamics.

I am interested in the ecological and evolutionary consequences of multiple species interactions. Specifically, my work focuses on the interactions among plants, pollinators, pre-dispersal seed predators, herbivores and nectar robbers. In addition, most recently I have begun examining the role of termites as community organizers in semi-arid grasslands of east Africa.

My current work focuses on three major questions: (1) How do direct and indirect interactions among multiple species affect the ecology and evolution of host plants traits and affect population and community dynamics? (2) How accurate is fitness measured at one stage, e.g., pollination and resulting seed production, in predicting fitness over longer time scales and in determining plant population dynamics? (3) How do the effects of a single species, e.g., a mound-building termite, nectar robbing bumblebee, or an herbivore, cascade throughout a plant community?

Selected Recent Publications

  • Clarke, G. and A.K. Brody. 2015. Gender inequality in predispersal seed predation contributes to female seed set advantage in a gynodioecious species. Ecology5:1309-1317.
  • Clarke, G. and A.K. Brody. 2015. Wise flies: a pre-dispersal seed predator prefers hermaphrodites over females in the gynodioecious Polemonium foliosissimum.  Ecological Entomology DOI:10.1111/een.12242
  • Gonzale, J.B., Clarke, G. and A.K. Brody. 2015. Lack of sex-specific differences in mycorrhizal associations and response to herbivory in the gynodioecious herb, Polemonium foliosissimum. Plant Ecology 216:951-962.
  • Petipas, R. and A.K. Brody. 2014.  Termites and ungulates affect arbuscular mycorrhizal richness and infectivity in a semi-arid savanna.  Botany, 92:233-240.
  • Petipas, R.H. and A.K. Brody.  2013.  Underground in gated communities: Ground-dwelling termites and ungulate herbivores affect arbuscular mycorrhizal diversity and infectivity in a semi-arid savanna In review.
  • Palmer, T.P. and A.K. Brody. 2012.  Enough is enough: the effects of symbiotic ant abundance on herbivory, growth and reproduction in an African acacia. In press.
  • Brody, A.K. and R.E. Irwin. 2012. When resources don’t rescue: flowering phenology and species interactions affect compensation to herbivory in Ipomopsis aggregate. Oikos. 121:1424-1434.
  • Irwin, R.E. and A.K. Brody.  2011. Additive effects of herbivory, nectar robbing and seed predation on male and female fitness components of the host plant Ipomopsis aggregata.  Oecologia, 166:681-692.
  • Hill-Bermingham, L. and A.K. Brody.  2011. Pollen source affects female reproductive success and early offspring traits in the rare endemic plant Polemonium vanbruntiae (Polemoniaceae). Plant Species Biology, 26:244-253.
  • Waser, N.M., M.R. Campbell, M.V. Price and A.K. Brody.  2010.  Density-dependent demographic responses of a semelparous plant to natural variation in seed rain.  Oikos 119:1929-1935
  • Pringle, R.M., D.F. Doak, A.K. Brody, R. Jocque and T.M. Palmer.  2010.  Spatial pattern enhances ecosystem functioning in an African savanna.  PLoS Biol 8(5): e1000377. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1000377
  • Brody, A.K., T.M. Palmer, K. Fox-Dobbs and D.F. Doak.  2010. Termites, vertebrate herbivores, and the fruiting success of Acacia drepanolobium. Ecology, 399-407.
  • Fox-Dobbs, K., D.F. Doak, A.K. Brody and T.M. Palmer.  2010. Termites create spatial structure and govern ecosystem function by affecting nitrogen fixation in an East African savanna.  Ecology, 1296-1397.
  • Hill, L.M., Brody, A.K., and C.L. Tedesco. 2008. Mating strategies & pollen limitation in globally threatened perennial Polemonium vanbruntiae. Acta Oecologica. Full text (PDF)
  • Price, M.V., D.R. Campbell, N. M. Waser and A.K. Brody. 2008. Bridging the generation gap in plants: pollination, parental fecundity, and offspring demongraphy. Ecology, 89: 1596-1604. Full text (PDF)
  • A.K. Brody, R.E. Irwin, M.L. McCutcheon, E.C. Parsons. 2008. Interactions between nectar robbers and seed predators mediated by a shared host plant, Ipomopsis aggregata. Oecologia, 155:75-84. Full text (PDF)
  • Palmer, T.M. and A.K. Brody. 2007. Mutualism as reciprocal exploitation: ant guards defend foliar but not reproductive structures of an African ant-plant. Ecology 88: 3004-3011. Full text (PDF)
  • Brody, A.K., M.V. Price and N.M. Waser. 2007. Life-History Consequences of Vegetative Damage in Scarlet Gilia, a Monocarpic Plant. Oikos 116: 975-985. Full text (PDF)
  • Price, M.V., N. M. Waser, R.E. Irwin, D.R. Campbell and A.K. Brody. 2005. Temporal and Spatial Variation in Pollination of a Montane Herb: a Seven Year Study. Ecology 86: 2106-2116. Full text (PDF)
  • Irwin, R.E., L. Adler and A.K. Brody. 2004. The dual role of floral traits: pollinator attraction and plant defense. Ecology 85:1503-1511. Full text (PDF)
  • Cariveau, D., R.E. Irwin, A.K. Brody, L.S. Garcia-Mayeya, and A. von der Ohe. 2004. Direct and indirect effects of pollinators and seed predators to selection on plant and floral traits. Oikos 104: 15-26. Full text (PDF)
  • Freeman, R.S., A.K. Brody and C.D. Neefus. 2003. Flowering phenology and compensation for herbivory in lpomopsis aggregata. Oecologia 136: 394-401. Full text (PDF)
  • Campbell, D.R., M. Crawford, A.K. Brody and T.A. Forbis. 2002. Resistance to pre-dispersal seed predators in a natural hybrid zone. Oecologia 131:436443. Full text (PDF)
  • Irwin, R.E., A.K. Brody and N.M. Waser. 2001 The impact of floral larceny on individuals, populations and communities. Oecologia 129:161-168. Full text (PDF)
  • Brody, A.K. and S. Morita. 2000. A positive association between oviposition and fruit set: female choice or manipulation? Oecologia 124:418-425. Full text (PDF)