The University of Iowa
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
The Department of Biology

Faculty Information

Steve Hendrix

Steve Hendrix

Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley 1975
425 BB
(319) 335-1065
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Plant-Animal Interactions: Conservation and Ecological Genomics

Research in our laboratory focuses on the plant-animal interactions from the perspective of conservation biology and evolutionary ecology. One of our three major areas of interest is bee pollination in fragmented landscapes (Fig. 1 and 2). The project's goals are to develop predictors of bee diversity in fragmented landscapes and test methods to enhance this economically important group of insects. These studies focus on ecological factors controlling diversity of solitary bees in fragmented prairie landscape. We are particularly interested in local vs. landscape scales effects (Fig. 3) on diversity, what habitat types bees frequent, and if habitat can be rehabilitated for solitary bees.

Our second area of active research involves dispersal of insects in fragmented landscapes. Our empirical studies of beetles that feed on a single plant species (monophagy) (Fig. 4) have shown that interactions between beetle and host plant characteristics shape dispersal patterns and population structure. The dispersal patterns in these studies have been mathematically modeled to test hypotheses about "foray sampling" by beetles, use of small clusters of host plants as "way stations", and variation about dispersal behavior within populations. Presently we are using the mathematical model to predict dispersal to new locations and we will test the predictions experimentally in the field. We are also examining morphometric differences in males and females that may influence flight ability and dispersal distances.

Lastly, we have begun collaborative studies with research groups in California and Germany exploring the role of wild bees in pollination of important agricultural crops. We are focusing on the contribution of wild bees to almond pollination in the Central Valley of California because of the economic importance of the crop and the recent difficulties with colony collapse disorder experienced by honey bee keepers (Fig. 5). Almond pollination is interesting ecologically because different varieties are self-incompatible and for nut production to occur, pollinators much move pollen between different varieties. On-going studies suggest that wild bees contribute significantly to almond pollination if natural areas are nearby and that they may stimulate (Fig. 6)

Keywords: evolution, ecology, pollination, dispersal, genomics

Click on a thumbnail to view image and description:
Figure 1
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Figure 2
Figure 3
Figure 4
Barth full bloom.JPG
Figure 5
Pink Bee Boxes 2.JPG
Figure 6

Selected Publications

Slagle, M. and S.D. Hendrix. Reproduction of Amorpha canescens (Fabaceae) and diversity of its bee community in a fragmented landscape. In Press, Oecologia, Aug., 2009. Online DOI 10.1007/s00442-009-1429-3

Kwaiser, K. and S.D. Hendrix. 2007. Diversity and abundance of bees (Hymenoptera: Apiformes) in native and ruderal grasslands of agriculturally dominated landscapes. Agric., Ecosystems, and Environ. doi:10.1016/j.agee.2007.09.012

Davis, J.D., S.D. Hendrix, and D.M. Debinski. 2007. Butterfly, bee, and forb community composition and cross-taxon incongruence in tallgrass prairie fragments. Journal of Insect Conservation In Press.

Hines, H. and S.D. Hendrix. 2005. Bumble bee (Hymenoptera: Apidae) diversity and abundance in tallgrass prairie patches: the effects of local and landscape features. Environ. Entomology 34(6): 1477-1484.

St. Pierre, M., S.D. Hendrix, and C.K. Lewis. 2005. Dispersal ability and host plant characteristics influence spatial population structure of monophagous beetles. Ecological Entomology 30:105-115.

St. Pierre, M. and S.D. Hendrix. 2004. Patch Use by a Monophagous Herbivore in Fragmented Prairie Landscapes. Prairie Naturalist. 36(4): 231-242.

St. Pierre, M. and S.D. Hendrix. 2003 Movement patterns of Rhyssomatus lineaticollis Say (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) within and among Asclepias syrica (Asclepiadaceae) patches in fragmented landscapes. Ecological Entomology 28: 579-586.

Niehaus, A., S.B. Heard, S.D. Hendrix, and S.L. Hillis. 2003 Measuring edge effects on nest predation in forest fragments: do finch and quail eggs tell different stories? American Midland Naturalist 149: 335-343.