My research interests focus on the ecology and the evolution of mutualistic symbioses. Despite being such spectacular interactions, mutualistic symbioses are also fascinating in the way they perform and they evolve. These interactions are ubiquitous in Nature and, in the past, have been underestimated in their role as ecological and evolutionary drivers of biodiversity. Mutualistic symbionts are often interacting in different ways with other species, establishing fascinating complex multipartite interactions. Each symbiont has huge impacts on the ones it interacts with and so can act as an important evolutionary driver. Thus it is interesting to me to define the real nature of these interactions and study their variation in space and time.
In the Nason lab I am interested in investigating the local- and landscape-level environmental factors that may affect interactions between the Sonoran Desert rock fig, Ficus petiolaris, and species-specific fig wasp mutualists (Pegoscapus pollinating seed consumer) and antagonists (diverse non-pollinating seed consumers), as well as fruit consuming lepidopteran larvae (Crambidae). I want to infer the past demographic history of the mutualists as well as their parasites, estimate the current effect of climate on the costs and benefits involved in the mutualism, and predict how global change might impact this interaction.