Baby Hattie arrives!!

On February 21 at 5:24pm Harriet Ann Gorton Willis (aka Hattie) was born to Amanda Gorton and Charlie Willis! Congrats to all!!

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New paper showing latitudinal and elevational gradients in seed predation from an international collaboration

John and Dave participated in an international collaborative experiment testing whether biotic interactions are stronger at low compared to high latitudes. The experiment was conducted from the equator to the arctic and from low to high elevation at each latitude. It is the first coordinated experiment involving real organisms to test this idea dating back to Darwin. The results are published in Science Advances and are also described in a popular article and video.

New paper on species distribution models for the invasive plant, Palmer amaranth

Ryan, Tom, and Dave published a paper in Scientific Reports on species distribution models for Palmer amaranth, one of the most economically costly invasive species in North America. It has rapidly spread across the continent and devastated agriculture along the way. It only reached Minnesota in 2016 and it’s future invasion potential is unknown. In addition to predicting the future range of the species, which has important implications for eradication and management, we also looked back in time throughout its well-documented invasion history to determine if we could predict the eventual extent of its range expansion. Check out the paper to see our findings!

Adam awarded Lake Minnetonka Garden Club Scholarship!

Adam Kostanecki, undergraduate researcher in the lab, was chosen to receive the Lake Minnetonka Garden Club scholarship. He was recognized for his “outstanding application, academic record, commitment to your education and community and your career goals in Botany research and public policy” Congrats Adam! (Gratulacje!)

NSF Speciation and mating system evolution grant funded

The Moeller Lab, in collaboration with Emma Goldberg (UMN EEB) and Yaniv Brandvain (UMN PMB), received four years of funding ($974,762) to investigate the role of mating system transitions in plant speciation. This new funding continues past work that revealed reproductive character displacement between incipient Clarkia species, and provided evidence of reinforcement in secondary sympatry. The new project integrates mathematical modeling, field experimentation, and genomic analysis.

Stephanie successfully defends masters thesis!

Stephanie gave a seminar and defended her masters thesis titled, “History, dispersal limitation, and environment shape the current and future ranges of forest herbs of the Southern Appalachians”. For her thesis, she developed species distribution models for 8 forest herb species, half of which are narrow endemics to the Southern Appalachians. She examined the extent to which their ranges are limited by opportunity (failure of the range to shift north following glaciation) versus adaptation (failure to adapt to environments north of the range). She also examined how each species’ range may shift or contract with climate change. Congrats Stephanie!

NSF LTREB grant on geographic range limits funded

Our project on the evolution of geographic range limits in Clarkia xantiana was just funded for five years from the NSF Long-Term Research in Environmental Biology program (Moeller, PI; Geber, co-PI, Eckhart, co-PI). This work has been ongoing for 13 years and the new funding will result in 18-year datasets on population demography and associated factors (abiotic and biotic environment) from across the species’ range. This is the third round of funding from NSF for this work and we greatly appreciate the support!

John wins best talk at PMB Graduate Program Retreat!

Plant & Microbial Biology graduate students presented their research at the graduate program’s annual retreat on Friday. John presented an excellent talk on his work on biotic interactions and geographic range limits in Clarkia. Votes were cast after the symposium and John was the winner! Congrats John!