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Department of Biological Science

at Florida State University

Biological Science Faculty Member

Dr. Nora Underwood

  • Office: 4008 King Life Sciences
  • Office: (850) 644-4167
  • Lab: King Life Sciences
  • Lab: (850) 644-4190
  • Fax: (850) 645-8447
  • Mail code: 4295
  • E-mail:
Dr. Nora  Underwood

Lab Home Page

Ph.D., Duke University, 1997
Graduate Faculty Status

Research and Professional Interests:

I am a population biologist interested in the ecology and evolution of plant-insect interactions. My primary focus is on how genotypic and phenotypic variation among individuals affects the long-term spatial and temporal dynamics of populations. I work on interactions between plants and their insect herbivores because plants and insects are amenable to experimentation and play important roles in both natural and agricultural communities. Studying the ecology of plant-insect systems allows me to focus on important basic research questions while also generating information that can be applied to the practical problems of developing more sustainable agriculture. Because the questions that I ask span levels of organization from characteristics of individuals to populations, and encompass both long and short time frames, I use a combination of greenhouse and field experiments with mathematical modeling in my research. Recent projects in the lab include:

  1. How the composition of plants in the neighborhood around a particular plant influences herbivore damage and thus plant competition and evolution (associational effects).

  2. The effects of insect herbivores on growth and regulation of a weedy plant population.

  3. The evolution of plasticity in plant resistance to herbivores

  4. The influence of genetic variance in quality within plant populations on herbivore dynamics and spatial distributions (using a native wild strawberry and specialist aphid on the coast of California)

  5. The effect of induced resistance on spatial distributions of herbivores and plant damage (experiments with soybeans/Mexican bean beetles and tomatoes/tomato herbivores)

  6. Effects of disturbance on the source-sink dynamics and pollination of a rare endemic plant (Mimulus angustatus, Napa county, CA)

  7. Associations between aphid population growth rates and carrying capacities across genotypes of wild strawberry.

Selected Publications:

Kim, T.N., Underwood, N., and B.D. Inouye. 2013. Insect herbivores change the outcome of plant competition through both inter- and intraspecific processes. Ecology 94(8): 1753-1763.

Buchanan, A.L. and N. Underwood. 2013. Attracting pollinators and avoiding herbivores: insect influence on plant traits within and across years. Oecologia in press.

Underwood, N. 2012. When herbivores come back: effects of repeated damage on induced resistance. Functional Ecology 26: 1441-1449.

McNutt, D.W., S. Halpern, K. Barrows and N. Underwood. 2012. Intraspecific competition facilitates the evolution of tolerance to insect damage in the perennial plant Solanum carolinense. Oecologia 17: 1033-1044. DOI 10.1007/s00442-012-2377-x

Underwood, N. and S. Halpern. 2012. Insect herbivores, density dependence, and the performance of the perennial herb Solanum carolinense. Ecology 93(5): 1026-1035.

Grinath, J., B. Inouye, N. Underwood and I. Billick. 2012. The indirect consequences of a mutualism: comparing positive and negative components of the net interaction between honeydew-tending ants and host plants. Journal of Animal Ecology 81(2): 494-502.

Underwood, N., S. Halpern, and C. Klein. 2011. Effect of host-plant genotype and neighboring plants on strawberry aphid movement in the greenhouse and field. American Midland Naturalist 165:38-49.

Underwood, N. 2010. Density dependence in insect performance within individual plants: induced resistance to Spodoptera exigua in tomato. Oikos 119:1993-1999.

Underwood, N. 2009. Effect of genetic variance in plant quality on the population dynamics of an herbivorous insect. Journal of Animal Ecology 78:839-847.

Anderson, K. E., B. D. Inouye. and N. Underwood. 2009. Modeling herbivore competition mediated by inducible changes in plant quality. Oikos 118:1633-1646.

Hughes, A. R., B. D. Inouye, M. T. Johnson, N. Underwood, and M. Vellend. 2008. Ecological consequences of genetic diversity. Ecology Letters 11:609-623.

Underwood, N. 2007. Variation in and correlation between rate of increase and carrying capacity. American Naturalist 169:136-141.

Halpern, S., and N. Underwood. 2006. Approaches for testing herbivore effects on plant population dynamics. Journal of Applied Ecology 43:922-929.

Tiffin, P., B. D. Inouye, and N. Underwood. 2005. Induction and herbivore mobility affect the evolution of plant defenses and herbivore counter defense. Evolutionary Ecology Research 8:265-277.

Underwood, N., P. Hambäck, and B. D. Inouye. 2005. Large-scale questions and small-scale data: empirical and theoretical methods for scaling-up in ecology. Oecologia 145:177-178.

Underwood, N., K. Anderson, and B. Inouye. 2005. Induced versus constitutive resistance and the spatial distribution of insect herbivores among plants. Ecology 86:594-602.

Agrawal, A. A., N. Underwood, and J. R. Stinchcombe. 2004. Intraspecific variation in the strength of density dependence in aphid populations. Ecological Entomology 29:521-526.

Underwood, N. 2004. Variance and skew of the distribution of plant quality influence herbivore population dynamics. Ecology 85:686-693.

Underwood, N., and M. D. Rausher. 2002. Comparing the consequences of induced and constitutive resistance for herbivore population dynamics. American Naturalist 160:20-30.

Underwood, N., M. Rausher and C. W. Cook. 2002. Bioassay versus chemical assay: Measuring the impact of induced and constitutive resistance on herbivores in the field. Oecologia 131:211-219.

Underwood, N., and M. D. Rausher. 2000. The effects of host-plant genotype on herbivore population dynamics in a model system. Ecology 81:1565-1576.

Underwood, N. 2000. Density dependence in induced plant resistance to herbivore damage: threshold, strength and genetic variation. Oikos 89:295-300.

Underwood, N., W. F. Morris, J. R. Lockwood, and K. Gross. 2000. Induced resistance to Mexican bean beetles in soybean: variation among genotypes and lack of correlation with constitutive resistance. Oecologia 122:83-89.

Underwood, N. 1999. The influence of plant and herbivore characteristics on the interaction between induced resistance and herbivore population dynamics. American Naturalist 153:282-294.

Underwood, N. 1998. The timing of induced resistance and induced susceptibility in the soybean–Mexican bean beetle system. Oecologia 114:376-381.

Postdoctoral Associates:

McNutt, David

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