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Research in my lab group focuses on evolutionary processes occurring in flowering plant populations. My students and I are particularly interested in understanding how plant mating systems evolve and how patterns of pollinator visitation influence male and female reproductive success. In collaboration with Dr. Randy Mitchell (Univ. of Akron) we have studied how ecological factors, such as population density and the presence of competitors for pollination, and genetic factors, such as floral morphology and floral display size, influence selfing rates and patterns of paternity in monkeyflower (Mimulus ringens). At our study site in Wisconsin this wetland perennial is pollinated by six sympatric species of bumble bees (Bombus). Through the use of genetic markers to unambiguously determine paternity, we have developed an unparalleled data set documenting fine-scale variation in mating patterns. For example, we have discovered that adjacent flowers open on the same day differ strikingly in selfing rates and number of outcross pollen donors. Nearly all fruits are multiply sired, averaging 4.92 outcross donors per fruit.
Students in my lab work on a variety of research systems, including Mimulus ringens, Lobelia siphilitica, and Asclepias verticillata. Current research questions include: