We work with a wide variety of species to try to understand the physiological mechanisms driving species ranges.  We combine 'omics technology with more traditional physiological techniques and ecological modelling to understand the causes and consequences of low temperature and desiccation stress.  A major focus includes using more ecologically relevant stressors that vary over time rather than the single exposures that are often used in physiological studies.

Some of our on-going projects include:  

Image courtesy of the Canadian Forest Service

Image courtesy of the Canadian Forest Service


Interpopulation variation in eastern spruce budworm cold hardinesss

The eastern spruce budworm (Choristoneura fumiferana) is one of the most important defoliators of the boreal forest. While its population sizes are kept in check by cold temperature, winter warming is increasing its poleward range edge.

Led by: Skye Butterson
Collaborators: Amanda Roe (Canadian Forest Service)


Abiotic drivers of diversity of ground-dwelling arthropods at the continental scale

Invertebrates make up the vast majority of the biodiversity on Earth, yet we know very little about the drivers of their distribution and diversity. In this project we are harnessing the power of DNA barcoding and machine learning to gather information from the NEON system of pitfall traps across the continental USA.

Funding: NSF
Students: Jarrett Blair (starting Jan. 2019)
PI: Michael Kaspari (University of Oklahoma)
Collaborators: Michael Weiser, Cameron Siler, Matthew Miller (University of Oklahoma)


Physiological Mechanisms of Freeze Tolerance in intertidal invertebrates

Most of the invertebrates that live in the intertidal are freeze tolerant, yet we have very little idea of the mechanisms that allow for this unique trait. In this project we use a combination of transcriptomics and traditional physiological techniques to understand how these animals can survive freezing solid.

Collaborators: Benny Chan (Academia Sinica)