Purdue Climate Change Research Center

Nancy Emery

Contact Information

LILY G-303


Nancy is interested in the evolution of the ecological niche, and how ecological processes shape the evolutionary trajectories of populations and species. The distribution of a species is largely a reflection of its ecological niche, and a major part of her research aims to understand the ecological and evolutionary processes that shape the distribution patterns that are observed in natural populations. Her research integrates community ecology, population biology, and phylogenetics; she uses field experiments, molecular methods, anatomical techniques, and comparative methods to address a variety of questions about the evolution of the ecological niche in plant populations and species.

She has several projects underway, most of which currently focus on patterns of niche evolution in plant species endemic to California vernal pool wetlands. Her specific research questions include: (1) What are the ecological and evolutionary causes of the within-pool distribution pattern of Lasthenia fremontii, a vernal pool endemic restricted to specific elevations within pools? (2) How do depth, flowering phenology and pollinator preferences influence patterns of gene flow in Lasthenia fremontii? (3) How do competition and ecological factors associated with pool depth influence the expression of additive genetic variation and selection for depth preference in Lasthenia fremontii? (4) What are the patterns of ecological niche differentiation in the Lasthenia clade, and how do divergence patterns vary with spatial scale? (5) Has invasion of the vernal pool habitat been associated with the evolution of reduced dispersal ability in Lasthenia lineages? (6) Has invasion of the vernal pool habitat been associated with the evolution of various leaf ecophysiological traits Lasthenia lineages?

Selected Publications:

Strauss, S. Y., M. L. Stanton, N. C. Emery, C. R. Bradley, D. R. Dittrich-Reed, O. A. Ervin, L. N. Gray, A. M. Hamilton, S. D. Harper, K. N. Law, V. Q. Pham, M. E. Putnam, T. M. Roth, L. M. Wells, and E. M. Yoshizuka. Cryptic Predation by Invertebrate Nocturnal Generalists May Underlie Survival, Performance and Fine-Scale Distribution of Native and Exotic Plants. In Press in Ecology.

Emery, N.C., M. L. Stanton and K. J. Rice. Factors driving distribution limits in an annual plant community. In press at New Phytologist.

Baack, E. J., N. C. Emery and M. L. Stanton. 2006. Ecological factors limiting the distribution of Gilia tricolor in a California grassland mosaic. Ecology 87(11):2736-2745.

Rice, K. J. and N. C. Emery. 2003. Managing microevolution: Restoration in the face of global change. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 1(9):469-478.

Emery, N. C., M. D. Bertness and P. J. Ewanchuck. 2001. Competition and salt-marsh plant zonation: Stress tolerators may be dominant competitors. Ecology 82(9):2471-2485.

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