Current Students

Sara Dart, PhD student
Three-time winner of the annual Pismo Beach “Queen of the Dunes”, Sara Dart is one of the few living humans that speaks fluent Camissoniopsis. Sara’s research focusses on mating system evolution, specifically the evolution of selfing in the mighty dune endemic Camissoniopsis cheiranthifolia. Through large-scale geographic surveys of floral morphology, glasshouse experiments and mating system estimation using genetic markers or her own design, Dart has shown evolutionary differentiation from outcrossing to multiple stable mixed mating systems in this species. She has gone on to testing theoretical predictions concerning how the evolution of the mating system influences and is influenced by inbreeding depression, pollination ecology and floral herbivory. In addition to her botanical work, Dart has studied the dynamics of near-shore costal water movement under the tutelage of Professor Dave Hubbard at the famous Coal Oil Point Institute. Favouring an 8-foot funshape, she has provided new evidence for the positive effect of neoprene and salt water on research productivity.

Adriana Lopez Villalobos, PhD student
Adriana hails from Mexico City, where she completed a BSC and MSc at UNAM. Making her way north, she turned her attention from pollination ecology to the ecology and evolution of range limits, with a particular interest in the extent to which variation in demography across species’ ranges influences population genetic structure and, in turn, the adaptive potential of populations across the range. Her project involves very large-scale surveys of demographic variables and genetic structure in the Pacific coastal dune endemic Camissoniopsis cheiranthifolia. By surveying a very high proportion of extant populations distributed along the near 1-dimensional geographic range of this species, Adriana is applying population and landscape-genetic analyses to test theoretical predictions concerning how demography and geographic location combine to determine the genetic diversity within populations and the degree of differentiation and gene flow between them. Adriana is also using population-genetic and phylogeographic analyses to shed light on the evolutionary history of mating system differentiation in C. cheiranthifolia. This species exhibits the full range of mating systems: from strict self-incompatibility associated with large flowers and complete outcrossing, to fully self-compatible, cleistogamous flowers and obligate self-fertilization. Adriana’s preliminary results suggests multiple independent origins of self-fertilization within this single species as well as hybridization associated with the maintenance of self-incompatibility.

Anna Hargreaves, PhD student (Anna’s website)
Anna did her BSc at Trent University, where she first became interested in the fascinating world of plant-animal interactions.  A 15-month exchange to South Africa sparked a fruitful relationship with Steven Johnson and the beginning of her work on pollination in South Africa.  Her honours thesis on bird pollination of Protea roupelliae was co-supervised by Erica Nol, whose influence sparked a second long-standing interest in arctic-breeding birds.  After time “off” working in the arctic,  Costa Rica and New Zealand, Anna started her MSc at the University of Calgary with Lawrence Harder (again co-supervised by Steve Johnson).  Her MSc research explored the evolutionary and ecological consequences of pollen theft, using the florally-diverse genus Aloe, in South Africa, as a study system.  Between graduate degrees Anna worked at the Centre for Conservation Research at the Calgary Zoo, where she reunited with the shorebirds of the Canadian arctic and conducted both research and outreach on a variety of threatened taxa, especially amphibians.  Finally, all this culminated in the beginning of her PhD here, in the Eckert lab, in January 2010.  Her PhD has focussed on the importance of abiotic factors and biotic interactions in determining the altitudinal range limits of plants growing the Rocky Mountains of Canada. Working out of the University of Calgary Biogeochemical Institute field station in the Kananaskis Valley, Anna has performed massive reciprocal transplant experiments with the diminutive annual hemiparasite Rhinanthus minor (Orobanchaceae) to determine the ecological and evolutionary limits to elevation distribution.

Stephanie Greer, MSc student
Stephanie hails from McMaster University where she studied mostly genetics and molecular biology. For her MSc project, she is assembling and comparing the transcriptomes of outcrossing versus self-fertilizing populations of the Pacific coastal dune endemic Abronia umbellata.

Lindsey Falk, BSc student
The role of biotic interactions in causing the limits to species distributions is poorly understood, so Lindsey (fueled by an NSERC Undergraduate Summer Research Award) teamed up with Anna Hargreaves and headed to the Rocky Mountains in the Kananaskis Valley. There she performed a factorial experiment manipulating herbivory on das wünderplant Rhinanthus minor to directly test the role of herbivory limiting fitness across the species altitudinal range. Lindsey is also reputed to enjoy country music, an admirable quality in a young person.

John Viengkone, BSc student

Habitat restoration is becoming an increasingly necessary conservation strategy in a world increasingly impacted by human habitat destruction and fragmentation. Such is the case on the lovely Pacific coastal dunes of western North America. John is addressing the question of whether it is best to revegetate dunes with stock derived from nearby populations. Working with the dune endemic Camissoniopsis cheiranthifolia, and using a combination of geographic analysis of variation in floral morphology and microsatellite polymorphisms, he is determining whether restored populations are derived from local sources or an admixture of local and nonlocal genotypes. He is then quantifying reproductive variation to see whether the use of non local sources reduces the fitness of restored populations.

Past Students

Laura Doubleday (MSc’12) -- Evolution of floral display fragrance during a shift from outcrossing to selfing

Karen Samis (PhD'07) -- Evolution of species' range limits

Jessica Montague (MSc'05)-- Local adaptation during biological invasion in purple loosestrife

Jill Hamilton (MSc'05) -- Phylogeography and conservation genetics of plants on threatened Alvar habitat

Chris Herlihy (PhD'04) -- Reproductive assurance and the evolution of self-fertilization

Sarah Yakimowski (MSc'04) -- A geographical perspective on factors threatening species at risk

Agnes Kliber (MSc'03) -- Genetics of biological invasion by flowering rush

Faye Thompson (MSc'02) -- The loss of sex in flowering rush

Keiko Lui (MSc'01) -- Genetic causes and consequences of sexual variation in introduced populations of flowering rush

Katherine Mavraganis (MSc'98) -- Reproductive ecology and population biology of Aquilegia canadensis

Marcel Dorken (MSc'98) -- The loss of sex in a clonal plant, Decodon verticillatus

Lisa O'Connell (MSc'97) -- Evolutionary differentiation in sexuality and life history in Antennaria parlinii

Jenn Weiner (BSc’11) -- The role of pollination in the altitudinal range limits of montane plants

Sara Lynskey (BSc’11) -- Ecological and genetic causes of low seed set in an annual dune endemic

Angela Boag (BSc’10) -- Ecology & effectiveness of biocontrol on purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria)

Lindsey Button (BSc’10) -- Coevolution of flower colour and the mating system in Camissonia cheiranthifolia

Natalie Morrill (BSc’10) -- Local adaptation to mediterranean climate in a Pacific coastal dune plant

Stephen Sagar (BSc'09) -- Heirarchical variation in floral morohology and neutral genetic diversity in Aquilegia canadensis

Elizabeth Johnston (BSc'09) -- Preferential allocation of resources to high quality offspring in Aquilegia canadensis

Catherine Gieysztor (BSc'09) -- Ecological factors associated with an abrupt mating system shift in Abronia umbellata

Virginia Emery (BSc'08) -- DNA barcoding reveals specialized floral parasitism by a new moth species

Young Chang (BSc'08) -- Geographic variation in the expression of self-incompatibility in Camissonia

Jessica Wang (BSc'06) -- Correlated evolution of flower morphology and life history in invasive purple loosestrife

Yona Gellert (BSc'06) -- Life history differentiation and reproductive isolation between selfing and outcrossing lineages

Emily Darling (BSc'05) -- Coevolution of dispersal, mating system & geographical range limits

Colleen Inglis (BSc'04) -- Geographiic variation in the sexual system of Camissonia

Tracy-Lynn Reside (BSc'04) -- Distribution and origin of genetic variation in sexual vs apomictic Antennaria

Emily Austen (BSc'03) -- Morphometric analysis of geographical variation in floral traits in Camissonia

Eva Bruni (BSc'03) -- Evolution of polyploidy in flowering rush

Jeremy Brown (BSc'03) -- Adaptive evolution during biological invasion in flowering rush

Jessica Montague (BSc'02) -- Role of horticulture in the spread of flowering rush: a molecular genetic analysis

Rob Ness (BSc'02) -- The evolution of asexuality in Antennaria

Kelly Bronson (BSc'01) -- Genetic relations between diploid and triploid flowering rush

Celine Griffin (BSc'01) -- Contribution of biparental inbreeding to the mating system of columbine

Sarah Yakimowski (BSc'01) -- Colonization dynamics of purple loosestrife

Mike Bhardwaj (BSc'00) -- Synchronous dichogamy in Butomus umbellatus

Agnes Kliber (BSc'00) -- Seasonal variation in allocation to sexual reproduction in Aquilegia canadensis

Steven Griffin (BSc'99) -- The effect of experimental protogyny in Aquilegia canadensis

Barbara Ozimec (BSc'99) -- Temporal variation in the mating system of Aquilegia canadensis

Matt Routley (BSc'98) -- The effect of population size on the mating system of Aquilegia canadensis

Julia Thomas (BSc'98) -- Sexual reproduction and genetic diversity in introduced populations of Butomus umbellatus

Kelly Gascoigne (BSc'98) -- A preliminary foray into the silver maple gall community

Amy Schaefer (BSc'97) -- Protogyny and reproductive assurance in Aquilegia canadensis

Blandine Massonnet (BSc'97) -- Sexual reproduction in introduced populations of Butomus umbellatus

Maryl Allen (BSc'96) -- Cryptic self-incompatibility in tristyous Decodon verticillatus

Cecilia Green (BSc'96) -- The adaptive significance of pollen size: a comparison of self- and cross-ferilizing angiosperms

Andreka Lapchinski (BSc'96) -- Mating system consequences of a novel floral phenotype in Decodon verticillatus

Tania Siemsen (BSc'96) -- Not being fruitful: the mechanism of sexual sterility in Decodon verticillatus

Nina Celotti (BSc'95) -- The pollen tube pathway and the obturator in hawthorn sexual reproduction

Captain Greg Grabas (BSc'95) Effect of floral variation on female reproductive success in tristylous Decodon verticillatus

Sean Griffin (BSc'95) Fluctuating asymmetry as a measure of epigenetic stress in Brassica rapa

Stacy Mitchell (BSc'94) The genetic control of sterility in clonal Decodon verticillatus

Katherine Mavraganis (BSc'94) -- Evolutionary consequences of extensive morph loss in tristylous Decodon verticillatus

Last updated: March 23, 2013
©Christopher G. Eckert