Reproductive ecology


A lot of basic information on the reproductive biology of plants (e.g. breeding system, pollinators, seed germination requirements, etc.) is not known. Therefore, we take a broad, comprehensive approach when conducting studies on the reproductive biology of prairie plants. For example, we have studied the breeding system and identified pollinators for species such as Lobelia spicata (spiked lobelia) and Eryngium yuccifolium (rattlesnake master). Before these studies were conducted it was not known that Lobelia spicata (pale-spiked lobelia) was a gynodioecious species or that Eryngium yuccifolium was a temporal dioecious species. These studies have provided the foundation for the development of many of my graduate students’ research projects and other ongoing collaborations. For example, using Eryngium yuccifolium as a model system we were able to determine that insect herbivory can reach similar levels in restored prairies as in native prairies, suggesting that this antagonist plant-insect interaction can be used to measure habitat restoration success.