Rachael E. Bonoan
I am an Assistant Professor in the Biology Dept at Providence College. I recently finished my post-doctoral research in the Crone Lab (Tufts University) and the Schultz Lab (Washington State University, Vancouver) on ant-caterpillar interactions in the South Puget Sound, WA. For my PhD, I studied honey bee behavioral ecology, nutritional ecology, and ecological immunity in the Starks Lab (Tufts University).
I am passionate about ecology, social insects, and insect pollinators!
Providence College, Department of Biology
1 Cunningham Square, Providence, RI
Current Research Projects
Who protects Puget blues?
When Puget blue butterflies are caterpillars, they are tended by ants. I am investigating the natural history of this relationship. Once we understand the natural history, I will run experiments to determine how ants affect caterpillar survival and how a shift in timing of caterpillar activity, due to climate change, may affect this relationship.
Does burning affect ant diversity?
In many cases, prescribed burns are important for ecosystem health. And so are ants! Using pitfall traps, I am studying how burning affects ant diversity in a temperate, short grass prairie.
What do Puget blues like to eat?
Butterflies get most of their nutrients from nectar. Due to the changing climate, the overlap of butterflies and their food sources may become mismatched. I am working with an undergraduate to investigate which flowers are important nectar sources for the threatened Puget blue butterfly, and their nutritional value. We will compare current overlap of butterflies and nectar flowers to historical overlap.
How does burning affect host plants?
Puget blue butterflies are particular. They only lay eggs on sickle-keeled lupine. I am examining if burning, which eliminates lot of competition for the plant, affects growth of this important host plant.