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The evolution of host race formation and cryptic speciation in plant-feeding insects

Images of Eurosta Solidaginis (goldenrod gall fly) and Solidago altissima (goldenrod)The exceptional diversity of phytophagous insects may be due in part to their propensity for speciation via host-race formation. In our research, we have focused on two closely-related goldenrods (Solidago altissimaand S. gigantea) and their insect herbivores as a model system to study host shifts (and eventual speciation) by multiple evolutionarily independent insect lineages on the same host plant pair. Read more about The evolution of host race formation and cryptic speciation in plant-feeding insects

The ecology and evolution of invasive plant species

Photograph of purple loosestrifeCombining ecological and genetic approaches, we have examined the process of biological invasion in three different plant systems. In multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora) we used genetic markers to quantify the relative contributions of sexual reproduction via seed versus vegetative reproduction via clonal spread to local patterns of invasion (Jesse et al. 2010). In purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) we compared phenotypic plasticity of native European versus invasive North American populations in response to variation in water and nutrient levels (Chun et al. 2007). Read more about The ecology and evolution of invasive plant species