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?