My research is focused on how species interact with each other and with their environment to shape population structures and the evolution of communities. Communities of special interest include sandhills, wet pine flatwoods (e.g., long leaf pine savannas), pitcher plant bogs and those greatly affected by climate change and invasive species.
Persistence and ecology of gopher tortoises in southwest Alabama
Recent trends illustrate a range-wide decline in populations of Gopherus polyphemus, a species of tortoise endemic to the southeastern United States. G. polyphemus is a keystone species promoting species biodiversity by the engineering of burrows in longleaf pine sandhill communities along the Coastal Plain. In Alabama, the species has been issued federal protection west of the Mobile and Tombigbee River, while it receives state protection across its entire range in Alabama. The eastern boundary of Mobile County represents a transition zone between federally protected and unprotected lands. We are comparing persistence and various aspects of their ecology in populations that have historically been federally protected versus those that have not been protected. Approaches we use to study these tortoises include 1) historical records of tortoise populations from 1991-1993, 2) motion activated cameras to document behavior, and 3) exclusions plots for understanding the influence of tortoise foraging on vegetation
Disrupting mutualisms: pollination and seed dispersal
Disruption of mutualistic plant-animal relationships is a serious threat to native plant health and diversity. In North America, arguably the greatest threat to these relationsips is invasion by exotic phytophagous insects; there are now over 400 such species with at least one in nearly every forested habitat. Among native species that are threatened by these exotic pests, insect pollinators whose larval stages share a host species with the invaders are most vulnerable. Accordingly, the pollination services provided by the adult stages of these native insects are also threatened. On the northern Gulf Coast we’ve shown through detailed quantitative analyses of plant and animal traits that not only is a common butterfly (Papilio palamedes) threatened due to its relationship with an endangered host plant (Persea borbonia) but it is also a primary pollinator of a native orchid (Platanthera ciliaris). This work was awarded an editor’s choice distinction in the journal AoB Plants.
Disruption of mutualistic plant-animal relationships can also create opportunities for exotic species to form beneficial relationships with indigenous species and subsequently displace other native species. The success and continued expansion of exotic species invasions and the threat posed to native communities often depend on the formation and maintenance of mutualistic relationships. For example, exotic plant species whose fruits are consumed by native or exotic birds or both often have greater invasion potential due to enhanced dispersal of propagules. Using quantitative data, we show how exotic forest pathogens are indirect threats to native bird–plant interactions and potential facilitators of exotic plant invasion.
Impacts of plant disease
In North America, invasions by exotic forest pathogens have dramatically reduced the dominance of native trees, e.g., Dutch elm disease, beech bark disease, and chestnut blight. While declines of host species have been well-documented, the American chestnut (Castanea dentata), American elm (Ulmus americana), and American beech (Fagus grandifolia) are all known to persist via the production of vegetative sprouts. However, the ecological impacts of persistence by targeted species and resultant community dynamics remain largely obscure.
The redbay ambrosia beetle (Xyleborus glabratus) is an invasive wood-boring insect originating from southeast Asia, and carries the fungus responsible for Laurel wilt disease. Laurel wilt is causing widespread mortality of redbay (Persea borbonia), avocado (Persea americana), and sassafras (Sassafras albidum), and has potential to decimate at least 8 other North American trees and shrubs within Lauraceae. Lauraceous trees under attack by laurel wilt provide a vital food source and habitat for many native insect herbivores. We broadly interested in the cascading, multi-trophic level impacts of LWD.
Chupp AD (2015) Predicting multi-trophic consequences of an emerging disease. Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL, ProQuest Dissertations Publishing. ISBN: 9781321943627
Chupp AD (2005) Habitat selection in four sympatric small mammal species and the effects of potential predators on Peromyscus leucopus. Virginia Commonwealth University Archives, Theses and Dissertations. https://scholarscompass.vcu.edu/etd/657/
Riggins J J, Chupp AD, Formby JP, Dearing NA, Bares HM, Brown RL, Oten KF (2019) Impacts of Laurel Wilt Disease on arthropod herbivores of North American Lauraceae. Biological Invasions https://doi.org/10.1007/s10530-018-1838-5
Chupp AD, Battaglia LL (2017) Sprouting capacity of Persea borbonia and maritime forest community response to simulated Laurel Wilt Disease. Plant Ecology 218:447-457
Chupp AD, Battaglia LL (2016) Bird-plant interactions and vulnerability to biological invasions. Journal of Plant Ecology 9:692-702
Chupp AD, Battaglia LL, Schauber EM, Sipes SD (2015) Orchid-pollinator interactions and potential vulnerability to biological invasion. AoB Plants 7:plv099
Chupp AD, Battaglia LL (2014) Potential for host-shifting in Papilio palamedes following invasion of laurel wilt disease. Biological Invasions 16:2639–2651
Chupp AD, Roder AM, Battaglia LL, Pagels JF (2013) A case study of urban and peri-urban mammal communities: implications for the management of National Park Service areas. Northeastern Naturalist 20:631–654
Pagels JF, Chupp AD, Roder AM (2005) Survey of Mammals at Appomattox Court House National Historical Park. Technical Report NPS/NER/NRTR—2005:030. National Park Service. Philadelphia, PA. https://irma.nps.gov/App/Reference/Profile/606877
Pagels JF, Chupp AD, Roder AM (2005) Survey of Mammals at Booker T. Washington National Monument. Technical Report NPS/NER/NRTR—2005:032. National Park Service. Philadelphia, PA. https://irma.nps.gov/App/Reference/Profile/606878
Pagels JF, Chupp AD, Roder AM (2005) Survey of Mammals at Petersburg National Battlefield. Technical Report NPS/NER/NRTR—2005:027. National Park Service. Philadelphia, PA. https://irma.nps.gov/App/Reference/Profile/606876
A positive influence in the community and communicator of science