Leithen's Page

I am interested in understanding how diverse communities of
interacting species form and persist.  I am currently trying to
identify the factors that make restored habitats most ideal for
sustaining pollinator communities in disturbed landscapes.  In the
past several decades, a number of ``hedgerows'' (rows of native
shrubs) have been planted along several farm edges in the intensively
agricultural landscape of Yolo County, California.  By comparing these
restored habitats to geographically similar but non-restored habitats,
I hope to identify if and how these restoration efforts might promote
the re-assembly and persistence of native pollinator communities.

My background is in theoretical evolution and mathematics.  I have
worked on a diversity of topics including sexual selection and
host-parasite co-evolution.  I completed my BSc in mathematics at the
University of Victoria and my PhD in Zoology at the University of
British Columbia.  For the latter, I focussed, in part, on how
non-ecological species traits, such as female mating behaviour or
sexual selection, can promote the co-existence of ecologically similar
species.  While continuing work on these evolutionary models, I am
currently most interested in understanding how we might apply what we
now know about evolutionary and ecological processes to guide future
conservation efforts.  For example, how might we best rebuild habitat
if we hope to restore diverse and healthy communities of interacting
species?