Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies
MESc 2019, Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies
BS 2017, College of William and Mary, Biology
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I study the role of intraspecific variation in food web interactions using animal personality as a focal trait. While ecologists typically focus on the variation that explains differences among species, recent studies have demonstrated that the functional differences within species can be just as large as those among species. This means that variation within species may have important consequences for ecological interactions and related ecosystem processes. Behavior is considered a highly flexible trait, but the personality concept places a limit on adaptive behavioral plasticity because individuals are constrained within their behavioral type, across ecological contexts, and over time. Personality can have direct and indirect effects within ecological interactions and, as a form of within-population variation, should undergo rapid evolutionary change driven by ecological feedback loops. Using animal personality as a focal trait allows thus allows mechanistic scaling of a level of ecological complexity from individuals to ecosystems.
I answer these questions using old-field arthropods as a model system, specifically grasshopper Melanoplus femurrubrum and its spider predators. Arthropods are a particularly tractable study species and allow for a wide range of experimental approaches from laboratory manipulations to ecosystem measurements.
Hill, T.D., Sommer, N.R., Kanaskie, C.R., Santos, E.A., Oczkowski, A.J. (2018). Nitrogen uptake and allocation estimates for Spartina alterniflora and Distichlis spicata. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology. doi.org/10.1016/j.jembe.2018.07.006.
Sommer, N.R., Moody, N.M, Lantz, S.M, Leu, M., Karubian, J., Swaddle, J.P. (2018). Red-backed fairywrens adjust habitat use in response to dry season fires. Austral Ecology. doi.org/10.1111/aec.12629.
Nelson, J.A., Johnson, D.S., Deegan, L.A., Spivak, A.C. Sommer, N.R. (2018). Feedbacks between nutrient enrichment and geomorphology alter bottom-up control on food webs. Ecosystems. doi.org/10.1007/s10021-018-0265-x.
Office: Greeley Laboratory, Room 119
School of Forestry & Enviro Studies
370 Prospect Street
New Haven, CT 06511 USA