Left to Right:
Kathryn Busby, Trevor Ledbetter, Elinor Lichtenberg (foreground), Kate Mathis, Coline Jaworski (foreground), Sarah Richman, Judie Bronstein (foreground in blue scarf), Kelsey Yule, Matt Rhodes, David Kikuchi, Palatty Allesh Sinu, Gordon Smith
Dr. Judith L. Bronstein
University Distinguished Professor, Dept. Ecology & Evolutionary Biology University of Arizona
Ph.D., M.Sc., Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, University of Michigan
A.B. Brown University
Using a combination of field observations and experiments, I investigate how population processes, abiotic conditions and community context determine net effects of the interactions for the fitness of each participant species. Specific conceptual areas of interest include: (1) conflicts of interest between mutualists and their consequences for the maintenance of beneficial outcomes in these interactions and (2) context-dependent outcomes in both mutualisms and antagonisms. I am also collaborating on theoretical and empirical investigation of (i) the fragility of mutualisms in light of conservation threats and mechanisms of restoring disrupted interactions and (ii) the causes and consequences of “cheating” within mutualism.
I study the population and community dynamics of mutualism, and the processes that promote mutualism persistence. Using a plant-pollinator system in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, I examine competition between bumble bee species that vary in the degree to which they act as mutualists for plants. In certain contexts, some bumble bee species act as nectar robbers (cheaters) rather than pollinators (mutualists), and my research has shown that this behavior can have negative reproductive consequences for plants. I use field experimental techniques to discern the contexts that promote or discourage nectar robbing, and how becoming a nectar robber affects competitive ability. When I’m not in the field, I devote a lot of my time to science communication and outreach. I am particularly interested in increasing STEM literacy and confidence among K-12 students in Tucson, and providing an inclusive atmosphere for the next generation of scientists. When I’m not doing that, you can often find me enjoying the warm Tucson weather on the patio of some restaurant or bar, indulging in snacks and/or cocktails.
Broadly, I am interested in how biotic interactions influence the evolution of the involved species. Empirically, I study the interactions between a Sonoran Desert parasitic plant (desert mistletoe, Phoradendron californicum), its hosts, and its mutualist vectors using field observations, experiments, and population genomics. In addition, I have developed models of the adaptive dynamics of 1) the influence of density dependence and genetic architecture on life-history trade-offs and 2) antagonisms between species that share a mutualist partner.
See Kelsey’s recent paper in Molecular Ecology!
I am generally interested in the causes and consequences of within-species variation in pollinator behavior. Behavior is one of the most plastic and variable responses organisms have to their environment, and differences in an individual’s behavior can have large fitness consequences both for that individual and for other species it interacts with. This is especially true in plant-pollinator interactions, as plants rely heavily on mutualistic pollen vectors to reproduce. My research focuses on a number of questions: 1) How much do pollinator individuals vary in their foraging behavior? 2) How this variation is distributed over space and time? 3) What are the drivers underlying this variation? and 4) How does this variation influence plant fitness? To answer these questions, I am performing a number of studies on the generalist pollinator Hyles lineata (Sphingidae), including observational fieldwork and physiological and choice experiments in the lab.
My main questions involve how changing abiotic factors may affect desert species interactions. My interest in native bees, pollination, and climate change has led me to my current dissertation work on the effects of increased temperature on carpenter bee phenology, nesting, and pollen foraging. Desert carpenter bees are common native bees in the Southwest, but we don’t know how they may be affected as global temperatures rise. My work’s goal is to understand the many possible impacts of these temperature increases on carpenter bees. I also enjoy sharing my love of science through K-12 and public outreach. I am currently an instructor for UA’s Sky School and a teaching assistant for UA’s Insect Discovery.
I am interested in the way species interact in disturbed ecosystems. My research is examining the current species composition of Biosphere 2. In particular it is focusing on the possible mutualism between the crazy ant, Paratrechina longicornis and the Homopteran present in the Biosphere. I am looking to understand if there is a food-for-protection mutualism occurring between these organisms in the system and what is causing that interaction to occur. In addition to this I am examining which species are fulfilling different aspects of Biosphere 2’s trophic structure to better understand the current ecosystem of this disturbed system.
I am an ecologist who is broadly interested in examining complex species interactions, particularly those involving social insects in agricultural systems. My work focuses on examining how the underlying mechanisms and drivers of species interactions can reveal the context dependency of these interactions in nature. I currently have two major components to my research: (1) examining how communication plays a role in complex species interactions, and (2) investigating how selective pressures shape these interactions.
Bronstein Laboratory Associates
(Click to enlarge, then click the small “i” for more info)
Bronstein Laboratory Alumni
+ Lyn Loveless (sabbatical 2012) – Professor, The College of Wooster.
+ Anurag Agrawal (sabbatical 2011) – Professor, Cornell University.
+ Monica Geber (sabbatical 2005) – Professor, Cornell University.
+ Bill Morris (sabbatical 2003) – Professor, Duke University.
+Palatty Allesh Sinu – Raman postdoctoral fellow 2016-2017; curently Assistant Professor, Central University of Kerala, India.
+Elinor Lichtenberg –NSF postdoctoral fellow 2015-2017; currently postdoctoral fellow at The University of Texas at Austin.
+Jessie Barker – PERT postdoctoral fellow 2012-2015; currently postdoctoral fellow at Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark.
+ Brigitte Marazzi – Swiss National Foundation postdoctoral fellow 2009-2012; currently Research Associate at the Instituto de Botánica del Nordeste, Corrientes, Argentina.
+ Sevan Suni – PERT postdoctoral fellow 2010-2012; currently Assistant Professor, University of San Francisco.
+ Ruben Alarcon – PERT postdoctoral fellow 2004-2007; currently Associate Professor at California State University Channel Islands.
+ Josh Ness – PERT postdoctoral fellow 2002-2005; currently Associate Professor at Skidmore College.
+ Nat Holland – National Park Service Ecological Fellow 2001-2003; currently Research Scientist at Unviersity of Houston.
+Paul CaraDonna (Ph.D. 2016) – currently Assistant Professor, Chicago Botanic Garden.
+Ginny Fitzpatrick (Ph.D. 2014) – currently living and working in Alexandria, Virginia.
+ Michele Lanan (Ph.D. 2010) – currently Research Scientist at the Southwestern Research Station, Portal, Arizona.
+ Kristen Potter (Ph.D. 2010) – currently postdoctoral fellow at Northern Arizona University.
+ Anne Estes (Ph.D. 2009) – currently Assistant Professor, Towson University.
+ Emily Jones (Ph.D. 2009) – currently science writer for Nature Communications, New York.
+ Alice Boyle (Ph.D. 2006) – currently Assistant Professor, Kansas State University.
+Jennifer Weeks (Ph.D. 2002) – currently Lecturer, University of Florida.
+Margrit McIntosh (Ph.D. 2001) – currently Applications Systems Analyst, University of Arizona School of Medicine.
+Sarah Richardson (Ph.D. 2000) – currently Adjunct Faculty, DePaul University.
+ Leif Richardson (M.Sc. 1999) – currently USDA postdoctoral fellow, University of Vermont.