Kailen Andrews Mooney
Faculty Director (UCI Nature)
Professor, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
School of Biological Sciences
Scientist, Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory
Association of Delegates, Organization for Tropical Studies
Ph.D., University of Colorado, 2004, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
community ecology, evolutionary ecology, plant-insect interactions
URL Lab website: tritrophic.org
Appointments: Postdoctoral Researcher, Cornell University, Dept. Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Anurag A. Agrawal Lab (www.herbivory.com), 2005-2007
I use manipulative field experiments and to study the interactions between plants, arthropods and insectivorous birds in both ecological and evolutionary contexts. Traits of plants (e.g. defensive chemistry, morphology) influence whole communities of arthropods from the ‘bottom-up’, while predators influence the same communities from the ‘top-down’. These two influences have traditionally been considered separately. Plant defense theory has been bi-trophic in nature, focusing on the pairwise plant-herbivore interaction without explicitly addressing the community context in which the interaction is embedded. At the same time, community ecology has addressed the top-down effects of predators without considering how plant traits affect food web structure.
The goal of my research is to conceptually unite community and evolutionary ecology. To do this, I ask how heritable plant traits influence interaction networks among herbivores, herbivore mutualists, and predators, and in turn how such networks drive the microevolution of plant defense. Methodologically, I model the results of long-term and large-scale field experiments using a combination of quantitative genetic and multivariate statistical techniques. By incorporating complex dynamics into my experiments, I rigorously test theory while simultaneously collecting detailed natural history observations as the basis for refining and pushing forward those same theories.
Phone: (949) 824-7852
University of California, Irvine
3112 Biological Sciences 3
Mail Code: 2525
Irvine, CA 92697
Manager (UCI Nature Executive Director)
Office: 3021 Biological Sciences III
University of California, Irvine
Mail: 4120 Natural Sciences 2
Irvine CA 92697-1450
Megan began her work with UC Irvine’s UCI-NATURE (UC Irvine’s Networked Assets to Understand the Environment) program when it was initiated in 2016. The program oversees operations and stewardship for UC Irvine’s field-based assets for research, teaching, and outreach, including the Steele-Burnand Anza-Borrego Desert Research Center within the UC Natural Reserve System. Prior to her work with UCI-NATURE, Megan held multiple positions with the Irvine Ranch Conservancy over a ten-year period, during which the organization tripled in size. She worked with staff and partners to develop programs and integrate science into their resource management strategy to inform best management practices. Upon completing her graduate research, she was Assistant Director for two years at the Sweeney Granite Mountains Desert Research Center, also within the UC Natural Reserve System. Megan has worked extensively on both project implementation and research in the field of restoration ecology in a variety of California ecosystems since 1997. Her research and methodologies look to leverage natural processes to advance the restoration of ecosystems at scales and in locations that optimize ecological impact and cost efficiency. She received her doctorate in ecology from the University of California, Davis, with an emphasis in restoration, plant ecology, and plant-soil relations, and her bachelor’s degree with a double major in biology and environmental studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is broadly interested in ecology and enjoys bringing people together from multiple sectors of society to better understand natural environments and identify solutions to conservation and restoration challenges.
Julie is a recent addition to the UCI Nature team. She comes to UCI after completing her M.Sc in biology at California State University of Los Angeles, where she studied the response of floodplain wildlife communities to large-scale removal of an invasive plant along the Rio Grande. Prior to graduate school, Julie managed water quality sampling and assisted in restoration and ecological monitoring projects for the watershed division of the Cambridge Water Department. She also worked as a research technician for numerous field studies, including salt marsh and grassland bird surveys, and marine mammal behavioral work. She obtained her B.S. in environmental science and conservation biology from the Rubenstein School of the Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Vermont. In between research positions, she worked as an environmental educator for non-profit organizations, and continues to love teaching others about their local ecology. Currently, she is excited to work with faculty and staff at UCI to explore novel approaches for habitat restoration in the face of anthropogenic climate change, urbanization, and biological invasions.
Phone: (760) 767-1010
Office: (760) 767-1010
Steele/Burnand Anza-Borrego Desert Research Center
P.O. Box 2098 401 Tilting T. Drive
Borrego Springs, CA 92004-2098