Annika S. Nelson

Annika S. Nelson
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University | VT · Department of Biological Sciences

Ph.D.

About

12
Publications
1,540
Reads
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95
Citations
Introduction
I study how mutualisms and multi-trophic interactions are influenced by climate change, biodiversity loss, and plant defense traits.
Additional affiliations
January 2020 - present
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Position
  • PostDoc Position
Description
  • Chemical ecology of seed dispersal
Education
September 2015 - December 2019
University of California, Irvine
Field of study
  • Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Publications

Publications (12)
Article
The interactions between ants and certain sap-feeding insects in the order Hemiptera are classic examples of food-for-protection mutualisms. In these associations, herbivorous hemipterans use a highly specialized, straw-like mouthpart to consume sap directly from plant phloem and xylem and, as a result, excrete a sugar-rich waste product called hon...
Article
Plant secondary metabolites (PSMs) play a central role in seed dispersal and fruit defense, with potential for large impacts on plant fitness and demography. Yet because PSMs can have multiple interactive functions across seed dispersal stages, we must systematically study their effects to determine the net consequences for plant fitness. To tackle...
Article
Full-text available
Plants produce an enormous diversity of secondary metabolites, but the evolutionary mechanisms that maintain this diversity are still unclear. The interaction diversity hypothesis suggests that complex chemical phenotypes are maintained because different metabolites benefit plants in different pairwise interactions with a diversity of other organis...
Article
Species employ multiple strategies to deal with stressful environments, but these strategies often incur costs. Aphids frequently utilize multiple predator avoidance strategies, including attracting mutualist ants for protection and dispersing by producing winged forms. While both strategies can be physiologically costly, the magnitudes of these co...
Article
Aim Ant communities are believed to be structured by competition, with dominant species competitively excluding subordinates (the dominance–impoverishment rule). However, a high number of seemingly similar species coexist, possibly due to interspecific trade‐offs. Here, we examine the evidence for the dominance–impoverishment rule across a broad la...
Article
1. Although associative learning is widespread across animals, its ecological importance is difficult to assess because learning is rarely studied in the field, where informative cues are juxtaposed against complex backgrounds of uninformative noise. 2. Ants rely heavily on chemical cues for foraging and engage in many ecologically important intera...
Article
1.The abiotic environment drives species abundances and distributions both directly and indirectly through effects on multi‐trophic species interactions. However, few studies have documented the individual and combined consequences of these direct and indirect effects. 2. We studied an ant‐tended aphid along an elevational gradient, where lower ele...
Article
Ants are ecologically dominant members of terrestrial communities. Ant foraging is often strongly associated with plants and depends upon associative learning of chemicals in the environment. As a result, plant chemicals can affect ant behaviors and, in so doing, have strong multi-trophic indirect effects. Plant chemicals mediate ant behaviors in t...
Article
Although species interactions are often proposed to be stronger at lower latitudes and elevations, few studies have evaluated the mechanisms driving such patterns. In this study, we assessed whether, and by which mechanisms, abiotic changes associated with elevation altered the outcome of an ant–aphid protection mutualism. To do so, we characterize...
Article
Full-text available
Intraspecific plant trait variation can have cascading effects on plant-associated biotic communities. Sexual dimorphism is an important axis of genetic variation in dioecious plants, but the strength of such effects and the underlying mechanisms relative to genetic variation are unknown. We established a common garden with 39 genotypes of Bacchari...
Article
Full-text available
In the tropics, daily temperature fluctuations can pose physiological challenges for ectothermic organisms, and upper thermal limits may affect foraging activity over the course of the day. Variation in upper thermal limits can occur among and within species, and for social insects such as ants, within colonies. Within colonies, upper thermal limit...
Article
Full-text available
Species abundance is typically determined by the abiotic environment, but the extent to which such effects occur through the mediation of biotic interactions, including mutualisms, is unknown. We explored how light environment (open meadow vs. shaded understory) mediates the abundance and ant tending of the aphid Aphis helianthi feeding on the herb...

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