People

Prof. Carla J. Essenberg

CarlaEssenberg

I took an indirect route to becoming an ecologist.  Although I had always enjoyed science, I majored in two other subjects I loved, music and philosophy, and only returned to biology after I graduated from college.  I was drawn to ecology both because of the beauty of living things and because I believed that ecological research was important.

I hoped, through my work, to make it easier for people to live fulfilling lives without cheating their neighbors and descendants of the natural resources needed to live well.  Pollination ecology attracted me for similar reasons: pollination is vital both to natural ecosystems and to our food system, and I find flowers and bees endlessly fascinating.

My research focuses on understanding the mutualism between plants and pollinators and exploring the effects of that mutualism on interactions between plant species.  You can read about my current research elsewhere on this website, so I won’t say more about it here.  Past projects have included studying the effects of flower density on flower visitation, exploring how bees decide when to leave patches of flowers, and investigating how bees respond to flower size cues.  You can see a complete list of my publications in my curriculum vitae.

 


Current lab members


Hope Logan (class of ’18), Summer research in 2017, Thesis

Project title: Bees and Blueberries: Signaling Rewards and Reproductive Success in the Maine Lowbush Blueberry Vaccinium angustifolium

 

Max Watson (class of ’18), Summer research in 2017, Thesis

Project title: Will plant species native to Maine support greater pollinator abundance and diversity than their nonnative congeners

 

Ruth van Kampen (class of ’19), Summer research in 2017

Project title: A laboratory test of the magnet species effect: do flowers of a preferred color attract bumblebees to flowers of a less preferred color?

 

Hadley Moreau (class of ’19), Summer research in 2017

Project title: Reward variability, flower size cues, and bumblebee behavior

 

Gabe Benson (class of ’20), Summer research in 2017

Project title: Measuring relationships between flower size and reward production in Rubus allegheniensis and Lyonia ligustrina and building self-refilling artificial flowers for future experiments

 

Alex Salazar (class of ’20), Summer research in 2017

Project title: Measuring relationships between flower size and reward production in Rubus allegheniensis and Lyonia ligustrina and building self-refilling artificial flowers for future experiments

 


Lab alumni


Jonathan Lindgren (class of ’20), Short Term research in 2017

Project title: Assisting with Hope Logan’s thesis research and building self-refilling, artificial flowers for future experiments

 

Johnathan Neufeld (class of ’17), Fall 2016 and Winter 2017 Thesis

Thesis title: Caffeine does not make me smarter: Bombus impatiens learning and memory unaffected by caffeine intake during free-flying foraging

 

Celine Pichette (class of ’17), Summer research in 2016, Fall 2016 and Winter 2017 Thesis

Thesis title: The effects of forestry management on bee communities

 

Emma Katz (class of ’17), Summer research in 2016, Fall 2016 Thesis

Thesis title: The effect of dispersion of non-rewarding flowers on pollination by bumblebees (Bombus impatiens): a lab study

 

Nate Diplock (class of ’17), Summer research in 2016, Fall 2016 Thesis

Thesis title: Comparing the pollinator abundance and diversity supported by native and non-native ornamental plants within four genera

 

Paige Guevarra (class of ’18), Summer research in 2016

Project title: Floral reward cues and the plants’ dilemma

 

Xiaomeng Wang (class of ’19), Summer research in 2016

Project title: A laboratory test of the magnet species effect on floral attractiveness

 

Colin McIntire (class of ’16), Fall 2015 Seminar and Research project, Winter 2016 Thesis

Thesis title: Does the presence of a showy plant species increase flower visitation by bumblebees, facilitating the pollination of more cryptic, sympatric species?

 

Talia Zisman (class of ’16), Fall 2015 Seminar and Research project

Project title: Larger inflorescences could augment pollinator attraction but encourage intra-inflorescence foraging

 

Cody Jordan (class of ’16), Fall 2015 Seminar and Research project

Project title: The plant’s dilemma and floral size cues

 

Claire Bartell (class of ’16), Fall 2015 Seminar and Research project

Project title: Examining the role of light intensity and inflorescence density on flower choice in bumble bees (Bombus impatiens)