Kailen A. Mooney

picture of Kailen A. Mooney

Associate Professor, Center for Environmental Biology
School of Biological Sciences
Scientist, Rocky Mountain Biological Labortory

Association of Delegates, Organization for Tropical Studies

Ph.D., University of Colorado, 2004, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Phone: (949) 824-7852
Email: mooneyk@uci.edu

University of California, Irvine
3112 Biological Sciences 3
Mail Code: 2525
Irvine, CA 92697
Research Interests
community ecology, evolutionary ecology, plant-insect interactions
Postdoctoral Researcher, Cornell University, Dept. Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Anurag A. Agrawal Lab (www.herbivory.com), 2005-2007
Research Abstract
I use manipulative field experiments and to study the interactions between plants, arthropods and insectivorous birds in both ecological and evolutionary contexts. Traits of plants (e.g. defensive chemistry, morphology) influence whole communities of arthropods from the ‘bottom-up’, while predators influence the same communities from the ‘top-down’. These two influences have traditionally been considered separately. Plant defense theory has been bi-trophic in nature, focusing on the pairwise plant-herbivore interaction without explicitly addressing the community context in which the interaction is embedded. At the same time, community ecology has addressed the top-down effects of predators without considering how plant traits affect food web structure.

The goal of my research is to conceptually unite community and evolutionary ecology. To do this, I ask how heritable plant traits influence interaction networks among herbivores, herbivore mutualists, and predators, and in turn how such networks drive the microevolution of plant defense. Methodologically, I model the results of long-term and large-scale field experiments using a combination of quantitative genetic and multivariate statistical techniques. By incorporating complex dynamics into my experiments, I rigorously test theory while simultaneously collecting detailed natural history observations as the basis for refining and pushing forward those same theories.
(Last 5 years; Supervised co-authors: * = undergraduate, ** =graduate, *** = postdoc)

Singer, M.S., Lichter-Marck, I.H., Farkas, T.E., Aaron, E., Whitney, K.D., Mooney, K.A. In revision. Herbivore diet breadth mediates the cascading effects of carnivores in food webs. PNAS

Abdala-Roberts, L. **, Parra-Tabla, V., Campbell, D.R., Mooney, K.A. Top-down and bottom-up forces shape herbivore selection on plants. In revision. Journal of Ecology

Abdala-Roberts, L. **, Mooney, K.A. Ecological and evolutionary consequences of plant genotype diversity in a tri-trophic system. In press. Ecology

Linhart, Y.B., Moreira, X. ***, Snyder, M.A., Mooney, K.A. In press. Variability in seed cone production and functional response of seed predators to seed cone availability: Support for the predator satiation hypothesis. Journal of Ecology

Moreira, X. ***, Mooney, K.A., Rasmann, S., Petry, W.K. **, Carrillo-Gavilan, A. Zas, R., Sampedro, L. In press. Trade-offs between constitutive and induced defences drive geographical and climatic clines in pine chemical defences. Ecology Letters

Abdala-Roberts, L**, Berny-Mier y Terán, J.C., Mooney, K.A., Moguel-Ordonez, Y.B., Tut-Pech, F. In press. Plant traits mediate effects of predators across pepper (Capsicum annuum) varieties. Ecological Entomology

Abdala-Roberts, L. **, Mooney, K.A. In press. Plant and herbivore evolution within the trophic sandwich. In: Hanley, T., La Pierre, K. Trophic Ecology: Bottom-Up and Top-Down Interactions across Aquatic and Terrestrial Systems. Cambridge University Press

Moreira, X. ***, Abdala-Roberts, L. **, Linhart, Y.B., Mooney, K.A. In press. Masting promotes individual- and population-level reproduction by increasing pollination efficiency. Ecology

Pratt, J.D. **, Keefover-Ring, K., Liu, L.Y. *, Mooney, K.A. In press. Genetically based latitudinal variation in Artemisia cali

Schreck, T.K. **, David, S.J. *, Mooney, K.A. In press. Effects of Brassica nigra and plant-mycorrhizal interactions on the arthropod community of Deinandra fasciculata. Biological Invasions

Petry, W.K. **, Perry, K.I. *, Fremgen, A. *, Rudeen, S.K. *, Lopez, M. *, Dryburgh, J. *, Mooney, K.A. In Press. Mechanisms underlying plant sexual dimorphism in multi-trophic arthropod communities. Ecology

Kimball, S., Lulow, M., Mooney, K.A., Sorenson, Q. In press. Establishment of native functional groups in trait-based restoration. Journal of Applied Ecology

Pratt, J.D. **, Mooney, K.A. 2013. Variation in Artemisia californica functional traits and plasticity along a steep environmental cline: implications for plant response to predicted climate change. Global Change Biology 19: 2454–2466

Moreira, X. ***, Mooney, K.A. 2013. Influence of plant genetic diversity on interactions between higher trophic levels. Biology Letters 9: 20130133
Abdala-Roberts**, Mooney, K.A. 2012. Environmental and plant genetic effects on tri-trophic interactions. Oikos 122:1157-1166

Gruner, D.S., Mooney, K.A. 2012. Green Grass and High Tides: Grazing Lawns in Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecosystems. Oikos 122: 313-316

Mooney, K.A., Singer. M.S. 2012. Plant variation in herbivore-enemy interactions in natural systems. In: Ohgushi, T., Schmitz, O., Holt, R.D. Trait-Mediated Indirect Interactions: Ecological and Evolutionary Perspectives. Oxford University Press

Moreira, X***, Mooney, K.A., Zas, R. Sampedro, L. 2012. Bottom-up effects of host-plant species diversity and top- down feedbacks interactively increases plant performance. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 279: 4464-4472

Abdala-Roberts, L.**, Mooney, K.A., Agrawal, A.A. 2012. Ant-aphid interactions on Asclepias syriaca are mediated by plant genotype and caterpillar damage. Oikos 121: 1905-1913

Whiteman, N.K. and Mooney, K.A. 2012. Evolutionary biology: Insects converge on resistance. Nature 489: 376-377

Mooney, K.A., Fremgen, A. *, Petry, W.K.** 2012. Plant sex and induced responses independently influence herbivore performance, natural enemies and aphid-tending ants. Arthropod-Plant Interactions 5: 1-7

Mooney, K.A., Pratt, R. ***, Singer, M.S. 2012. The tri-trophic interactions hypothesis: Interactive effects of host plant quality, diet breadth and natural enemies on herbivores. PLoS ONE 7: e34403

Daniels, E.V. *, Mooney, K.A., Reed, R.D. 2012. Seasonal wing color plasticity varies dramatically between buckeye butterfly populations in different climatic zones. Ecological Entomology 37: 155-159

Petry, W.K. **, Perry, K.I.*, Mooney, K.A. 2012. Influence of macronutrient imbalance on native ant foraging and inter-specific interactions in the field. Ecological Entomology 37: 175-183

Singer, M.S., Farkas, T.E.*, Skorik, C.M.*, Mooney, K.A. 2012. Tri-trophic interactions at a community level: Effects of host-plant species quality on bird predation of caterpillars. American Naturalist 179: 363-374

Mooney, K.A., Linhart, Y.B., Snyder, M.A. 2011. Masting in ponderosa pine: Comparisons of pollen and seed over space and time. Oecologia 165: 651-661

Mooney, K.A. 2011. Genetically based population variation in aphid association with ants and predators. Arthropod-Plant Interactions 5: 1-7

Mooney, K.A., Mandal, K.* 2010. Competition hierarchies among ants and predation by birds jointly determine the strength of multi-species ant-aphid mutualisms. Oikos 119: 874-882

Mooney, K.A., Halitschke, R., Kessler, A., Agrawal, AA. 2010. Evolutionary trade-offs in plants mediate the strength of trophic cascades. Science 237: 1642-1644 (profiled in Perspectives: Hamback, P.A. 2010 A green or a prickly world? Science 327: 1583-1584

Mooney, K.A., Gruner, D.S., Barber, N.A., Van Bael, S.A., Philpott, S.M., Greenbrerg, R. 2010. Interactions among predators and the cascading effects of vertebrate insectivores on arthropod communities and plants. PNAS 107: 7335-7340

Mooney, K.A., Tillberg, C.V. 2010. Stable isotopes in the study of ant diets. In: Lach, L., Parr, C.L., Abbott, K., eds., Ant Ecology, pp. 117-118. Oxford University Press

Ness, J. Mooney, K.A., Lach, L. 2010. Ants as Mutualists. In: Lach, L., Parr, C.L., Abbott, K., eds., Ant Ecology, pp. 97-114. Oxford University Press
Professional Societies
Ecological Society of America
Entomological Society of America
Xerces Society
Research Center
Center for Environmental Biology
Last updated