I have broad interests across many fields of biology, but I specialize in two groups of soil-dwelling animals, earthworms and millipedes.

REU Site Program

K-State Division of Biology is host to a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Site program. The theme for this 10 week summer program is Ecology and Evolution in Changing Environments: Mechanisms to Responses. I coordinate the program with Ted Morgan, and I also have mentored REU students in invertebrate biology research projects. Please visit the REU program webpage for more details on the program and specific research projects. For K-State students looking for a longer research experiences, look at the URM program.

 

Invasive Species

Amynthas agrestis, an invasive Asian earthworm species

Few people, at least in the United States, realize that most of the earthworms they are familiar with are not native to North America. Many of these earthworm species are also invasive. Much of my research over the last 5 years has focused on Asian earthworm invasions, and I am planning to continue this line of research. In the future I'll be assembling information about this topic on the resources page.



Taxonomy

Sigmoria sp. from Great Smoky Mountains National Park

I am interested in descriptive taxonomy of both earthworms and millipedes. My work is primarily morphological, but I believe that an approach which combines both molecular and morphological information is best. I am currently working on describing new species of millipedes from Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, and Arkansas. As part of my taxonomic work I have identified millipedes from several All-Taxa Biodiversity Inventories, including those at Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Boston Harbor Islands, and the recent Yellowstone National Park BioBlitz.



Millipede Ecology

Eurymerodesmus mundus in a mesocosm experiment

One of the main questions in my research is simply: How do millipedes affect soil properties? In collaboration with Richard Jeannotte (now at UC-Davis), we are examining how Eurymerodesmus mundus collected from Konza Prairie affects microbial communities and soil properties.



Life History

Earthworm cocoons from Konza Prairie

Very little is known about the life history of most species of soil fauna. Of the great diversity of earthworms and millipedes, detailed life history characteristics are only know for a handful of species, mostly of European origin. I am currently monitoring cultures of the millipede Eurymerodesmus mundus to record basic life history characteristics. I have also recently collaborated with several former students to raise cocoons of Asian Amynthas agrestis to determine the numbers of hatchlings per cocoon and hatching rates at different temperatures.



Other Interests

I also have interests in the following areas:

  • biogeography
  • restoration ecology
  • biology and ecology of isopods, centipedes, and other soil fauna


  • Conferences

    Recent meetings I have attended:

  • 2011: 14th All-Taxa Biodiversity Inventory (ATBI) Conference, Gatlinburg, TN, USA
  • 2011: 15th International Congress of Myriapodology, Brisbane, Australia
  • 2012: 15th All-Taxa Biodiversity Inventory (ATBI) Conference, Gatlinburg, TN, USA

  • Upcoming meetings I plan to attend:

  • June 2014: 10th Internation Symposium on Earthworm Ecology (ISEE), Athens, GA, USA
  • July 2014: 16th International Congress of Myriapodology, Olomouc, Czech Republic