Diane Srivastava Diane Srivastava
My research is motivated by curiosity about the natural world, interests in conservation and a passion for ideas. I grew up exploring the forests and lakes of Nova Scotia, and my ecological fieldwork has since taken me around the world, with research in Central and South America, Africa, England and arctic and temperate Canada. Many of my research ideas are developed through mentoring students and postdoctoral fellows. If you are interested in joining my research group, please click here.
Sarah Amundrud Sarah Amundrud (PhD Student)
Research on ecological effects of climate change has traditionally focused on direct, physiological effects on species; however, we are beginning to recognize its potential to alter ecological communities and ecosystem processes indirectly, by affecting species interactions. Foundation and keystone species exert particularly strong effect on communities, and thus present a high potential to mediate ecological effects of climate change. In Monteverde, Costa Rica, water-filled bromeliads provide habitats (i.e. are foundation species) for diverse invertebrate food webs and occur along a climate (elevation) gradient. The keystone predator (damselfly-larvae) is absent from bromeliads in the relatively cool and wet high elevation bromeliads. Thus, these miniature ecosystems are ideal systems to examine the relative importance of direct and indirect ecological effects of climate change. I am combining observational, experimental, and modeling techniques to tease apart which factors best explain community composition: climate; habitat; or predators. Moreover, I use modeling techniques to predict community and ecosystem changes under future climate scenarios.
Gustavo Caue Gustavo Cauê (PhD Student, UNICAMP)
Gustavo is co-advised by Gustavo Romero and Diane Srivastava

Interested in the effects of cross-ecosystem trophic cascades, particularly the magnitude effects of predators living in land-water boundaries on aquatic ecosystem functioning.
Melissa Guzman Melissa Guzman (PhD Student)
Dispersal is an important mechanism in structuring community composition at regional scales. It can increase population ranges, prevent local extinction and increase the genetic pool for adaptation. The aquatic invertebrate community in bromeliads create food webs where they disperse from one bromeliad to the next forming metacommunities. I am interested in understanding the role of dispersal in food webs and how it structures a community at different scales. For this I'm going to do a series of experiments and models. I will estimate dispersal distances using a NGS approach.
Ana Z. Gonçalvez Ana Z. Gonçalvez (PhD Student, UNICAMP)
Ana is co-advised by Gustavo Romero and Diane Srivastava

Different predator ants can construct their nests in tank bromeliads and they can alter the composition and species diversity in these micro-ecosystems through the predation behavior. Depending on the behavior of the ants, they can have different effects on the species composition in the bromeliads and alter the food chains, causing trophic cascades between the terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Furthermore, they can also alter ecosystem processes (e.g., nutrient cycling and its availability to plants). In this context, I am interested in the influence of different predator ants on the nutrition and development of their host bromeliads and how they alter the terrestrial and aquatic biota in these plants.
Jonathan Lui Jonathan Lui (Database Manager)
Jonathan is designing and constructing a database and web interface to allow collaboration between the Srivastava Lab and Bromeliad Working Group friends. This much needed research tool is going to change the face of bromeliad studies for years to come!
Andrew MacDonald Andrew MacDonald (PhD Candidate)
Along some environmental gradients ecological communities appear strikingly different from one another; one such difference is in the number of species present. What are the ecological and evolutionary causes (and consequences) of this change? I joined the Srivastava Lab because bromeliad communities were so interesting and tractable to field experiments. Right now I'm designing experiments to test the effects of changing levels of diversity both between species (ie phylogenetic) and within species (ie genetic). Before joining Diane's Lab in January I earned my Master's at University of Toronto with Peter Kotanen, studying the effects of enemies on an invasive plant (Ragweed) in its native range. Following that I volunteered in rural Borneo with an organization called Alam Sehat Lestari, working on a reforestation project in a damaged rainforest.
Nicholas Marino Nicholás Marino (PhD Student, UFRJ)
Nicholas is co-advised by Vinicius Farjalla and Diane Srivastava

Climate change is an ongoing process that is already affecting several parts of the Earth. Ecological and evolutionary studies on the impacts of climate change traditionally focus on ecosystem and community-wide impacts of changes in temperature. However, changes in the precipitation regime are also predicted to occur - increasing the sensitivity of aquatic habitats to climate change. Moreover, some key direct (i.e. density mediated) and indirect (i.e. trait-mediated) species interactions, such as predation, may be disrupted or lost, amplifying the impact of climate change. Using tank-bromeliads as a model-system, I am interested in understanding how changes in precipitation can affect the consumptive and behavioural roles of predation in aquatic ecosystems.
Pierre Rogy Pierre Rogy (MSc Student)
The citrus greening disease is a bacterial field disease affecting citrus trees and spread by the jumping plant louse Diaphorina citri. It greatly reduces the lifespan of trees and makes the fruit unusable, causing substantial economic impacts. Biological control can be an efficient disease management strategy, and is already implemented in various orange orchards. If bromeliads are present in orchards, bromeliad-associated predators, such as ants, scorpions and spiders, and the biological control agents would compete for the same lice. However, the impacts of predation efficiency of several predators targeting the same prey item is highly context-specific and poorly understood. Thus, I am interested in assessing whether those predators can be used as a supplement to biological control in a synergistic relationship, which could have important consequences in terms of ecosystem services and pest management.
Former lab members Alathea Letaw completed her PhD in 2016. She researched the factors influencing community composition in bromeliads in Brazil. Angie Nicolás completed her MSc in 2015. She studied the impact of forest fragmentation on insect communities from tree holes in Costa Rica. Aliny Patrícia Flauzino Pires completed her PhD in 2015, co-advised by Vinicius Farjalla. She used tank-bromeliads to test how detritus diversity interacts with changes in precipitation to affect ecosystem functioning and community structure in the restinga of Jurubatiba National Park, Brazil. Kurt Trzcinski completed a postdoc in 2015. He was co-advised by Régis Cereghino. He research focused on how energy flow through bromeliad aquatic ecosystems affects community dynamics and ecosystem function. Angélica González completed a postdoc in the lab in 2014. She applied ecological stoichiometry to bromeliad insect communities. Paula Omena completed her PhD in 2014. She was co-advised by Gustavo Romero. She studied habitat-mediated predation using bromeliad spiders as a study system. Fernanda Azevedo completed her PhD in December 2013. She was co-advised by Vinicius Farjalla. Robin LeCraw defended her PhD in December 2013. She studied functional diversity and biogeography of bromeliad insect communities. Ali Naqvi was a work-study student who helped create a photo key of bromeliad insects. Michael Millar was a research assistant who helped expand our mite and bromeliad insect identification webpages by contributing photographs and drawings, and identifying countless specimens. Cora Skaien was an honour's student in the lab studying the impacts of tadpoles on bromeliads and their invertebrate communities. Virginia Noble defended her MSc in May 2013. She studied the consequences of tropical forest fragmentation and land conversion on leaf litter decomposition and nutrient recycling in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Youhua Chen defended his MSc in February 2013. He worked on the impact of disturbance on mite diversity as well as phylogenetic diersity-related issues, like how ecological processes structure phylogenic clustering or evenness patterns. Edd Hammill completed a postdoc in the lab. His research concerns how inducible defences in prey affect dispersal and population dynamics in meta-communities. Gennifer Meldrum defended her MSc in September 2012. She investigated how dispersal rate between habitat patches interacts with synchronicity of disturbance across the landscape to influence biodiversity and community resilience in a moss-microarthropod ecosystem. Andrea Stephens defended her PhD in 2012, studying the biological control of the invasive weed, diffuse knapweed by insect herbivores. Melissa Cuke defended her MSc in February 2012. Pavel Kratina completed a postdoc in the lab. Jana Petermann completed a postdoc in the lab. Martin Videla completed a postdoc in the lab. Silvina Fenoglio completed a postdoc in the lab. Jiichiro Yoshimoto was a visiting scholar in the lab studying the moss-mite ecosystem. Jessica Beaubier completed her MSc in 2006. Jackie Ngai completed a PhD in the lab. Brian Starzomski completed a PhD in 2006. Ben Gilbert completed his PhD in 2003. He studied native and non-native plant distributions. Katsky Venter Xiang Zhu
Group photos
Group Lab Photo
August 2010: Genn, Jana, Andrew, Alathea, Pavel, Robin, Youhua, Diane, Jiichiro (clockwise from left)
Group Lab Photo
January 2011: Genn, Rob, Alathea, Mariana, Paula, Youhua, Silvina, Virginia, Martin (from left)


University of British Columbia
Department of Zoology
Biodiversity Research Centre

website by Alathea Letaw