Plant Systematics, Conservation Biology, and Ethnobotany


Nicole Miller-Struttmann, Ph.D.

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Nicole Miller-Struttmann, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Webster University

Research Interests
• Ecology and evolution of species interactions
• Responses to environmental change
• Plant-pollinator interactions

Urban plant-pollinator interactions. Miller-Struttmann’s research explores the reciprocal relationships between plants, pollinators, and people, largely through the lenses of climate change and urbanization. The globe is becoming increasingly urbanized, meaning that the success of biodiversity conservation efforts relies heavily on human-modified landscapes. We rely heavily on biodiversity for important ecosystem services, such as pollination, particularly in urban food deserts where food production is increasingly supplemented by community gardens and small-scale farms. This summer, I have two ongoing research projects that an REU student could build upon. The first evaluates pollination in orchards across the city of St. Louis, examining how factors such as human population density, socioeconomic status, and surrounding vegetation impact insect numbers and fruit yield. We are performing detailed experiments to test the effects of increasing pollinator numbers directly, by adding nests of native bees, or indirectly, by adding blackberry stems and commercial bee houses that they can use as nesting sites. This project may involve washing insects, pollen identification, and/or bee identification and behavior. The second project uses observations by citizen scientists enrolled in the Shutterbee Citizen Science Project to test the predictions about how landscape features influence bee diversity and occupancy. This project may involve working with citizen scientists to track plant-bumble bee interactions on their land, identifying plants and bees using taxonomic keys, and/or developing occupancy-detection models in the R programming language. It is possible for the student(s) participating in this project to receive co-authorship on a publication resulting from this work.

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