CSUCI Biology Homepage
Dr. Alarcón's Pollination Ecology Lab
Ruben Alarcón, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Biology
California State University Channel Islands
One University Drive
Camarillo, CA 93012
Phone (805) 437-2634
Fax: (805) 437-8895
ruben.alarcon "at" csuci.edu
- Ph.D., University of California, Riverside.
- B.S., University of California, Irvine.
Pollination ecologists have typically studied a focal plant species and one or a few closely related pollinator taxa, such as bumblebees, which fostered the view that plant-pollinator relationships are highly specialized. However recent community-scale studies have revealed that many pollination systems are generalized, such that plants are visited by diverse, and spatiotemporally variable, pollinator assemblages. My goal is to reconcile traditional views of "specialized" floral adaptation with ecological generalization. Specifically my lab will be incorporating aspects of pollinator foraging behavior and flower/pollinator phenotype, into the analysis of plant-pollinator communities using network techniques. To address this issue my lab is exploring several plant-pollinator systems, including sub-alpine meadows in Colorado and California, the Sonoran Desert of southern Arizona, as well as the coastal sage scrub community surrounding the CSUCI campus.
From an applied perspective my lab is also working to maintain honeybee populations for crop pollination. In the United States over 130 crops require insect pollination, with nearly one-third of our diet coming from honeybee pollination services. However, over the last several years large numbers of honeybee colonies have been lost to Colony Collapse Disorder. Working with beekeepers and growers, my lab is trying to assess the benefits of providing supplemental forage for colonies transported to California every winter to pollinate almonds. We are also available to assist Ventura County beekeepers in identifying Nosema microsporidian infections and to monitor parasitic mites.
In addition to working with honeybees my lab also studies the nesting and foraging behavior of native bees, including the Blue Orchard Bee, Osmia lignaria. By furthering our understanding of native bee biology we hope to increase their use as sustainable pollinators. In collaboration with the UC Cooperative Extensions, Ventura County, we will also be studying how native bees could be used to improve avocado pollination.
- BIOL 200 Principles of Organismal and Population Biology (Lab and Lecture)
- BIOL 203 Quantitative Methods for Biology
- UNIV 398 The Chemistry of Plant-Animal Interactions
- BIOL 407 Behavioral Ecology
- BIOL 452 Entomology
- BIOL 452 Methods in Population and Community Ecology
- BIOL 494 Independent Research
Publications in Peer-Reviewed Journals
- Howell, A. D, R. Alarcón, and R. L. Minckley. The effects of urban habitat fragmentation on native Creosote bees’ nesting success. Ecology, in Review.
- Schleuning, M., J. Fründ, A.M. Klein, S. Abrahamczyk, R. Alarcón, M. Albrecht, G. Andersson, S. Bazarian, K. Böhning-Gaese, R. Bommarco, B. Dalsgaard, M. Dehling, A. Gotlieb, M. Hagen, T. Hickler, A. Holzschuh, C. Kaiser-Bunbury, M. Templin, T. Tscharntke, S. Watts, C. Weiner, M. Werner, N. Williams, C. Winqvist, C. Dormann, N. Blüthgen. Latitudinal trends in mutualistic networks. Submitted to PNAS.
- Ollerton, J., V. Price, W. S. Armbruster, J. Memmott, S. Watts, N. M. Waser, Ø. Totland, D. Goulson, R. Alarcón, J. C. Stout and S. Tarrant. 2012. Overplaying the role of honey bees as pollinators: A comment on Aebi and Neumann (2011). Trends in Ecology and Evolution, doi:10.1016/j.tree.2011.12.001.
- Dalsgaard, B., E. Magård, J. Fjeldså, C. Rahbek, J. M. Olesen, J. Ollerton, R. Alarcón, A. Cardoso Araujo, P. A. Cotton, C. Lara, C. G. Machado, A. M. Martín González, I. Sazima, M. Sazima, A. Timmermann, S. Watts, B. Sandel, W. J. Sutherland and J. C. Svenning. 2011. Specialization in plant-hummingbird networks is associated with Quaternary climate- change velocity. PLoS ONE 6(10): e25891. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0025891.
- Burkle, L. and R. Alarcón. 2011. The future of plant-pollinator diversity: understanding interaction networks across time, space, and global change. American Journal of Botany 98: 528-538.
- Alarcón, R., J.A. Riffell, G. Davidowitz, J.G. Hildebrand, and J. L. Bronstein. 2010. Sexual variation in floral preferences of the hawkmoth Manduca sexta (Sphingidae). Animal Behaviour 80: 289-296.
- Alarcón, R. 2010. Congruence between plant-visitor and pollen transfer networks. Oikos 119: 35- 44.
- Ollerton, J., R. Alarcón, N. M. Waser, M. V. Price, S. Watts, L. Cranmer, A. Hingston, C. Peter, and J. Rotenberry. 2009. A global test of the pollination syndrome hypothesis. Annals of Botany: 103: 1471-1480.
- Alarcón, R., N. M. Waser and J. Ollerton. 2008. Year-to-year variation in the topology of a plant- pollinator interaction network. Oikos 117:1796-1807.
- Riffell, J.A., R. Alarcón, L.A. Abrell. 2008. Floral trait associations in hawkmoth-specialized and mixed pollination systems; Datura wrightii and Agave spp. in the Sonoran Desert. Communicative & Integrative Biology 1: 1-3.
- Alarcón, R., J. L. Bronstein and G. Davidowitz. 2008. Nectar usage in a southern Arizona hawkmoth community. Ecological Entomology 33:503-509.
- Riffell, J.A., R. Alarcón, L.A. Abrell, G. Davidowitz, J.L. Bronstein, and J.G. Hildebrand. 2008. Behavioral consequences of innate preferences and olfactory learning in hawkmoth-flower interactions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 105:3404-3409.
- Howell, A. D. and R. Alarcón. 2007. Osmia bees (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae) can detect nectar- rewarding flowers using olfactory cues. Animal Behaviour 74: 199-205.
- Bronstein, J. L., R. Alarcón, and M. Geber. 2006. The Tansley Review: The evolution of plant/insect mutualisms. New Phytologist 172: 412-428.
- Campbell, D. R., R. Alarcón, and C. Wu. 2003. Reproductive isolation and hybrid pollen disadvantage in Ipomopsis. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 16:536-540.
- Alarcón, R., and D. R. Campbell. 2000. Absence of conspecific pollen advantage in the dynamics of an Ipomopsis (Polemoniaceae) hybrid zone. American Journal of Botany 87:819-824.
- Marchant, T. A., R. Alarcón, J. A. Simonsen, and H. Koopowitz. 1998. Population ecology of Dudleya multicaulis (Crassulaceae): a rare narrow endemic. Madroño 45: 215-220.
Science Education / Public Awareness Publications
- G. Degrandi-Hoffman, R. Vreeland, D. Sammataro, Alarcón, R. 2009. The importance of microbes in nutrition and health of honey bee colonies: Where do we go from here? American Bee Journal 149:755-757.
- G. Degrandi-Hoffman, D. Sammataro, Alarcón, R. 2009. The importance of microbes in nutrition and health of honey bee colonies: Factors affecting the microbial community in honey bee colonies. American Bee Journal, 149: 667-669.
- G. Degrandi-Hoffman, D. Sammataro, Alarcón, R. 2009. The importance of microbes in nutrition and health of honey bee colonies. American Bee Journal 149:583-584.
- Alarcón, R, G.Degrandi-Hoffman, and G. Wardell. 2009. Fungicides can reduce, hinder pollination potential of honey bees. Western Farm Press: 31(7): 17, 21.