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Publications

Sidhu, CS & EE Wilson Rankin. 2016. L Honey bees avoiding ant harassment at flowers using scent cues. Environmental Entomology. 45(2): 400-426
Wilson Rankin, EE. 2015. Level of experience modulates individual foraging strategies of an invasive predatory wasp. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. 69: 491-499
Wilson Rankin, EE. 2014. Social context influences cue-mediated recruitment in an invasive social wasp. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. 68:1151-1161
Wilson, EE* & EM Wolkovich. 2011. Scavenging: how carnivores and carrion structure communities. Trends in Ecology and Evolution. 26: 129-135.
Wilson, EE*, CS Sidhu, KE LeVan & DA Holway. 2010. Pollen foraging behavior of solitary Hawaiian bees revealed through molecular pollen analysis. Molecular Ecology. 19: 4823-4829.
Wilson, EE* & DA Holway. 2010. Multiple mechanisms underlie displacement of solitary Hawaiian Hymenoptera by an invasive social wasp. Ecology. 91: 3294-3302.
Wilson, EE*, CV Young & DA Holway. 2010. Predation or scavenging? Thoracic muscle pH and rates of water loss reveal cause of death in arthropods. Journal of Experimental Biology. 230: 2640-2646.
Wilson, EE*, LM Mullen & DA Holway. 2009. Life history plasticity magnifies the ecological effects of a social wasp invasion. Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences. 106: 12809-12813.
Eckles, MA, EE Wilson*, DA Holway & JC Nieh. 2008. Protein quality elevates thoracic temperatures of foraging western yellowjackets, Vespula pensylvanica (Hymenoptera: Vespidae). Naturwissenschaften. 95: 787-792.
Wilson, EE*, DA Holway & JC Nieh. 2006. Cold anesthesia decreases foraging recruitment in the New World bumblebee, Bombus occidentalis. Journal of Apicultural Research. 45: 169-172.
Weiss, MR, EE Wilson*, & I Castellanos. 2004. Predatory wasps learn to overcome the defenses of their larval prey. Animal Behaviour. 68: 45-54.
* Prior to 2014, Dr. Wilson Rankin published under the name EE Wilson.

Research

Pollinators and pollination ecology: We are interested in examining pollinators in both urban and natural landscapes and across the urban-natural interface. In urban areas, we are examining how threats from invasive species, drought and human disturbances affect plant-pollinator interactions and pollinator health. These pollinators include bees, butterflies and birds, and plants include drought-tolerant garden species. In natural areas, we are examining pollination of rare and endemic plants for conservation and factors that affect their pollinator communities.
Influence of climate and diet on invasiveness of social insects: Some yellowjacket species exhibit plasticity in colony cycle in their introduced ranges to include annual and perennial life histories. In western yellowjackets (Vespula pensylvanica), we are looking at how temperature and food availability contribute to the shift in life history (switching from annual colony cycle to perennial colony cycle). Because perennial colonies overwinter and develop very large worker population sizes, perenniality can have a large negative impact on prey species and the ecological services provided by these prey.
Impact of invasive species on food webs and the ecosystem services provided by consumed taxa: Utilizing next-generation sequencing, we can gain a quantitative overview of how species are interacting in an ecosystem before and after invader removal. Combining such diet analyses with landscape scale sampling, we can assess the stability of the ecosystem services provided by affected taxa (natives consumed by the invader or the invader itself).
Molecular approaches to detecting and quantifying invasive species and trophic impacts: We are adapting environmental DNA (eDNA) screening approaches to the soil arthropod communities to identify areas invaded by non-native taxa. In mesocosms, quantitative lab experiments are establishing (1) what is the lowest density at which we can detect invader DNA, and (2) how long invader genetic material will remain detectable after the invader leaves or dies. With an understanding of latency of eDNA in the soil and the sensitivity threshold of detection, we can employ this approach to sample across a large geographical scale in a cost-effective manner.

People

Current

Michelle Constanza Miner (Ph.D. student): native bee biology and diversity, pollination, protected lands management, desert and Mediterranean ecology
Jacob Cecala (Ph.D. student): pollination ecology in natural, semi-natural and agricultural ecosystems
Kevin Loope (postdoc): social evolution, chemical ecology, and the evolutionary ecology of invasive wasps and honeybees (email)(website)
Giselle Lozano (researcher): Drought impacts on`pollinators and their nutrition
Jong Soon Lee (junior specialist): Arriving July 2016!
David Rankin (researcher): hummingbird foraging ecology, interactions between invasive and native floral visitors (email)
Chien Yu (undergraduate researcher): pollinator diversity across the urban to natural landscape gradient

Alumni/Alumnae

Sarah Barney (junior specialist): (Now at Michigan!) trophic ecology, arthropod/avian-mediated ecosystem services, molecular genetics and ecology, tropical forest biodiversity and conservation
C. Sheena Sidhu (postdoc): pollination ecology, conservation, and ecosystem services within and across natural-urban interfaces. Now at UC ANR! (email)
Korie Merrill (MS, 2015): invasive ant ecology and eradication. Now at the Soil Ecology and Restoration Group, San Diego State University
Veronica Fernandez (technician): Vespula population genetics and eDNA detection of invasive species
Nicole Gutzmann: (now at NCSU!) molecular genetics and eDNA detection of biological invasions

Contact Us

900 University Ave, Riverside, CA 92521

Our lab is located on the first floor of the Entomology Bldg on the University of California Riverside campus.

Erin Wilson Rankin
email: erin.rankin@ucr.edu
phone: 951 827 5735

Lab Intro

In the Wilson Rankin lab, we study invasive species ecology, investigating species interactions and their effects on food webs and ecosystem services both at the landscape-level (such as invasive species removal and mitigation) and the individual-level (such as foraging strategies and genetic diet analyses). Much of our work involves native pollinators and invasive social insects in and across the interface of agricultural, natural and urban landscapes. Specific areas of current research involve the effects of drought and fire on pollinator health and diversity, life history evolution of invasive species, disruption of ecosystem services by invasive generalists and trophic impacts of multi-channel omnivory.

Educational and Employment Opportunities

We are currently looking for an undergraduate researcher to help a Ph.D. student in the Wilson Rankin Lab in the UCR Entomology Department with research project. Responsibilities will include: (1) assisting with local field work - field work will be conducted in outdoor commercial plant nurseries across Southern California, particularly in Riverside, San Diego, Orange, and Los Angeles counties. Field work typically occurs during weekday mornings sometime between 7am and 12pm. Procedures involve setting out traps for insects, surveying and identifying plants, and netting and observing insects. (2) assisting with processing, identifying and curating insect samples, (3) assisting with greenhouse studies. Position available ASAP, will last throughout summer (with potential for continuing during school year). No prior research experience or specific knowledge required. An interest in insects, pollinators, wildlife conservation, community ecology, and/or urban biodiversity is preferred. If interested, please contact Dr. Rankin via e-mail erin.rankin@ucr.edu