Eastern Connecticut State University
Department of Biology

Eastern Connecticut State University

 


Adam M. Lambert

Assistant Professor

Ph: 860.465.4499
Fax: 860.465.5213
lambertA@easternct.edu

Teaching
 Ecology
 Plant Ecology
 Biological Invasions
 Plant-Animal Interactions


Research

 Invasive species, plant-herbivore  interactions,  biological control

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  Courses
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  Research
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  Invasive species
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  Publications
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  Links
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  Curriculum vitae



Research Interests

My research examines the effects of non-native, invasive species on natural habitats, the mechanisms underlying invasion success, and insect herbivore-mediated interactions between native and non-native plants. My research objectives include: 1) understanding ‘how’ and ‘why’ some invasive species (but not others) are so successful, 2) elucidating how insect herbivores alter competitive interactions between native and non-native species, 3) identifying host specific natural enemies and testing their efficacy in controlling invasive species, and 4) examining conservation and restoration strategies that complement invasive species control or removal.

Ecological interactions among native and non-native species

Temperate ecosystems
Northeastern North American forests, fields, and wetlands are invaded by a diverse exotic flora - absence of coevolved herbivores in the invasive range appears to be the primary driver of exotic plant success. But, white-tailed deer populations and their preference for native plants may also have an effect on native and exotic plant interactions. I am examining the combined effects of insect and vertebrate herbivores on native and exotic plant success in this ecoregion.

Arid ecosystems

Another project focuses on the interactions of native and non-native plants in riparian systems in the southwestern United States and documenting how non-native plant invasions in riparian areas of this arid region are altering ecosystems. We are documenting the ecological effects and changes in biodiversity caused by establishment of non-native Arundo donax in riparian systems, evaluating the current herbivore complex associated with Arundo in the United States, and studying herbivore effects on Arundo growth and survival.

A similar project examines competitive interactions of native and non-native biotypes of Phragmites australis. The non-native biotype is rapidly invading and changing wetland ecosystems in the United States and replacing native biotypes. I am studying the factors that enable the exotic biotype to out-compete the native biotype and other native plants, and how biodiversity changes and declines over time as the non-native species invades. I am also looking at the differential susceptibility of the native and non-native biotypes to native and non-native herbivores.

Population dynamics and distributions
I am researching genetic structuring among the different Phragmites biotypes using molecular techniques (RFLP’s and ISSR’s). With this information, I am constructing a GIS database to map the distribution of native and non-native biotypes in the southwest. This database will enhance conservation efforts for native biotypes and control efforts for the non-native biotype, and can be to study the spread of P. australis and and subsequent effects on biodiversity. Another aim of this research is to develop accurate and ‘easy to use’ genetic techniques for identifying closely related native and non-native plants.

Tri-trophic interactions
My research often focuses on both pairwise and tri-trophic interactions between plants and insects to elucidate complex interactions in ecosystems. For example, one of my projects examines the multilevel relationship between secondary chemicals and defensive structures in tomatoes, herbivores that feed on these plants, and their insect predators. I have found that although plants and insect predators often have mutualistic relationships, plant defenses can have unintended and detrimental effects on predator movement and survival. Future research will focus on the relative effects of plant defenses on generalist insect predators versus specialist insect predators, which may be adapted to host-specific plant defenses. I am also interested in how allelochemicals differ among plant genotypes and how these differences affect plant quality, competitive interactions among closely related plants, and herbivory.

If you are a student interested in working on any of these projects, please contact Dr. Lambert at lamberta@easternct.edu