Ian Pearse Receives 2012 Merton Love Award for Outstanding Dissertation in Ecology and Evolution
April 18, 2012
|Ian Pearse studying oak galls. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)|
DAVIS--UC Davis researcher Ian Pearse, who completed requirements for his doctorate in entomology in December 2011, is the recipient of the 2012 Merton Love Award for the Outstanding Dissertation in Ecology and Evolution.
Pearse, with the Rick Karban lab, researches the ecology of plants and herbivores.
Pearse will receive a $400 stipend, have his name engraved on the Merton Love plaque, and will present a Department of Ecology and Evolution lecture in June.
The lecture is set for 4:10 p.m., Thursday, June 7 in Room 1003 of Giedt Hall. (See seminar schedule.)
The annual award goes to the most outstanding UC Davis doctoral dissertation in the fields of ecology and evolutionary biology, said Department of Entomology assistant professor Louie Yang, a member of the Ecology and Evolution seminar committee that judges the applicants. Applicants are solicited from all relevant graduate groups each spring from students who are finishing in the upcoming summer or have finished during the previous year.
“Ian's dissertation was focused on predicting novel trophic interactions between herbivores and non-native plants,” said Yang. “Throughout his dissertation, Ian has shown a willingness to tackle difficult questions with independence and creativity. He has applied a wide range of approaches in his research, including phylogenetic comparative methods, manipulative experiments and large-scale observational studies.”
Yang said that Pearse “has been exceptionally productive in both his independent and collaborative research, and has become a valued colleague and participant in the ecology and evolution community at UC Davis. In addition to his research activities, Ian has also shown a strong interest in developing his skills as a teacher, especially in field courses.”
The award is named for Robert Merton Love (1909-2004), an internationally renowned range scientist and agronomist. A UC Davis faculty member from 1940 to 1994, Love chaired the Department of Agronomy and Range Science from 1959 to 1970, retiring in 1976. Later, in his retirement years, he chaired both the Graduate Group in Ecology and the Graduate Group in Range and Wildlands Science. (See his work as a major figure in the history of plant breeding at UC Davis.)
Pearse presented a UC Davis Department of Entomology seminar on April 4 on "The Use of Non-Native Plants by Native Herbivores."
His abstract: “As human-aided range expansions and climate change alter the distributions of both plants and their herbivores, novel interactions between organisms will become some of the most pressing issues that can be addressed by modern ecologists. It would be very useful to have a strong theoretical framework for predicting novel herbivore-plant interactions before they happen and to have a mechanistic understanding of why some interactions occur while others do not. I outline a theoretical framework for predicting plant-herbivore interactions, and I illustrate examples of plant traits and relationships that affect the colonization of non-native oak trees by herbivores. I show that, in the oak genus, phylogenetic relationships between plant species drive herbivore interactions, and that this trend is governed by subtle plant traits that are often overlooked as defenses.
Pearse received his bachelor's degree at the University of Illinois, Urbana.
--Kathy Keatley Garvey
UC Davis Department of Entomology