DAVIS--Community ecologist Louie Yang, assistant professor in the UC Davis Department of Entomology, is a newly selected UC Davis Hellman Fellow. He will receive a $10,000 award to support his research activities investigating the timing of milkweed (Asclepias spp.) and monarch (Danaus plexippus) interactions in western North America due to climate change.
His research addresses two main questions: “How has the relative timing of species interactions changed in the recent past?” and “What are the fitness consequences of phenological shifts?”
This is the fifth year of the UC Davis Hellman Fellows Program. The Hellman Family Foundation contributes funds to support and encourage the research of promising assistant professors who exhibit potential for great distinction in their research. The fellowship is designed to support research and creative activities that will promote career advancement.
The Fellows will be honored at a luncheon in May of 2014, according to Maureen Stanton, vice provost of academic affairs and professor of evolution and ecology.
Yang, who received his bachelor’s degree in biology (ecology and evolution) from Cornell University and his doctorate in population biology from UC Davis in 2006, joined the UC Davis Department of Entomology in 2009. His research interests include community ecology, species interactions, temporal variation, extreme events in nature, and the integration of ontogeny and phenology.
In his research proposal and application to the Hellman Fellows Program, Yang wrote that he is investigating “the consequences of shifts in the relative timing of species interactions due to climate change.”
Yang says that monarchs and milkweeds “provide an excellent system to investigate the fitness consequences of phenological shifts because they have a pairwise plant-herbivore interaction with seasonally variable traits and important migratory component traits that are likely to be associated with phenological shifts.”
His research will test two specific hypotheses: (1) Climate change has already shifted the relative timing milkweed-monarch interactions in recent decades, and (2) Shifts in the relative timing of the milkweed-monarch interaction will have negative fitness consequences for the monarch butterfly.