Animal-Plant Interaction

  • Rhizophora Brazil

    Muddy mangrove in Brazil, near mouth of the Amazon

  • mangrove archipelago Belize

    Clear water mangrove on Twin Cays archipelago, Belize

  • mangrove Rhizophora Belize

    Dwarf Rhizophora in Paynes Creek National Park, Belize

  • mangrove saltmarsh Louisiana

    Avicennia encroaching on Spartina marsh at Port Fouchon, LA

  • mangrove, Ceriops, Australia

    Tall Ceriops forest along the Hinchinbrook Channel, QLD

  • mangrove Cape Tribulation beach

    Rhizophora on the beach at Cape Tribulation, QLD

  • mangrove Tinchi Tamba Wetlands

    Avicennia and succulent marsh at Tinchi Tamba Wetlands, QLD

  • mangrove Waikopua New Zealand

    Mangrove at Waikopua Estuary near Aukland, NZ

  • mangrove, Panama

    Quiet mangrove creek at Bocas del Toro, Panama

  • mangrove Zapata Swamp Cuba

    Extensive dwarf mangrove forests in Zapata Swamp, Cuba

  • mangrove Whangapoua New Zealand

    Dwarf Avicennia forest at Whangapoua, New Zealand

  • mangrove, Belize

    Mangrove sunset at Twin Cays, Belize

  • mangrove KAUST Saudi Arabia

    Dwarf Avicennia forest at KAUST along the Red Sea, SA

  • mangrove, word cloud

    Mangroves Matter

  • Avicennia, Red Sea, Saudi Arabia

    Camel browsed Avicennia marina along Red Sea

  • Cape Cleveland, Australia, mangrove

    Mangroves on Cape Cleveland QLD, near AIMS

  • cyanobactera mat, Port Douglas, QLD

    Vast cyanobacteria mat in the mangrove at Port Douglas, QLD

  • Ceriops, QLD

    Dwarf Ceriops forest along Hinchinbrook Channel, QLD

  • Hinchinbrook Channel, QLD

    Overview of the mangrove forests along the Hinchinbrook Channel, QLD

  • mangrove, Florida

    Setting up mangrove experiments at GTMNERRS, Florida

  • mangroves, New South Wales

    Mangroves and eucalypts along the Clyde River, NSW

  • mangrove, Clyde River, NSW

    Inside the mangrove forest along the Clyde River, NWS

  • Laguncularia, Florida

    Dwarf Laguncularia with prop roots, Merritt Island, Florida

  • mangrove, sloth, Panama

    Sloth in a mangrove forest at Bocas del Toro, Panama

  • mangrove, Panama, Pelliciera

    Dwarf Pelliciera and Rhizophora, Peninsula Valiente, Panama

  • mangrove, Nicaragua

    Rainy flight over dwarf mangroves, Atlantico Sur, Nicaragua

  • mangrove, Pelliciera, Panama

    Propagule of Pelliciera rhizophorae, Bocas del Toro, Panama

  • mangrove, Giralia, Western Australia

    Mangroves at Giralia along the Great Sandy Desert, WA

  • mangrove, Pelliciera, Panama

    Pelliciera at Peninsula Valiente, Bocas del Toro, Panama

  • mangrove, Pelliciera, Panama

    Flower of Pelliciera rhizophorae, Bocas del Toro, Panama

  • manrine field station, Belize

    Smithsonian Marine Field Station on Carrie Bow Cay, Belize

  • mangrove

    Dinosaurs in the mangrove?

  • mangrove, Merritt Island, Florida

    Experiments in the mangrove-saltmarsh ecotone, MINWR, FL

  • mangrove, frigate birds, Belize

    Magnificent frigate birds in the mangrove canopy, Belize

  • leaf area index, mangrove, Florida

    Measuring dwarf mangrove leaf area index, Fort Pierce, Fla.

  • mangrove, Twin Cays, Belize

    Dwarf Rhizophora at Hidden Lake, Twin Cays, Belize

  • mangrove, Belize

    Mangroves at Carrie Bow, Twin, and South Water Cays, Belize

  • mangrove, Avicennia, Florida

    Northernmost Avicennia germinans, GTMNERRS, Florida

  • mangrove, Baja California, Mexico

    Arid land mangroves in Baja CA, Mexico

  • mangrove, dwarf tree, Belize

    Strange little elephants in the mangrove, too?

  • mangrove, cormorant

    Cormorant calling in the mangrove at Merritt Island, FL

Principal Investigator

Our research focuses on animal-plant interactions in forested ecosystems. We study the interactions of plants and insects in temperate forests and tropical forested wetlands, with a keen interest in the ecological roles of herbivores in forested ecosystems and how they affect and are affected by resource availability.

For the past 25 years, we have been studying the effects of nutrient availability on animal-plant dynamics, nutrient cycling, and patterns of nutrient conservation in mangrove ecosystems in the Neotropics. We also have been attempting to determine the role of wood borers and other endophytic herbivores on plant architecture, growth, reproduction, sex expression, nutrient cycling, and community structure in forested ecosystems.

Animal-plant interactions are critical components of many ecological processes in forests, such as seed dispersal, pollination, or community structure.  In both temperate and tropical ecosystems, herbivores play important ecological roles in nutrient cycling, gap formation, and succession, and influence the composition and hydrology of forests.

By primary consumption (i.e., herbivory), animals can cause structural and functional disruption of primary and secondary growth of trees and shrubs. Herbivores can prune, weaken, or kill trees, reducing the timber quality of commercially important species. Forests of trees weakened by drought, nutrient deficiencies, air pollution, and other environmental stresses become more susceptible to outbreaks of insect herbivores. Herbivores that attack apical meristems affect plant architecture, growth, reproduction, and sex expression.