Leithen M’Gonigle


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?

Leithen’s Website:


at the University of California Berkeley