Helen Miller Alexander
Plant Population Biology
Ph.D., Duke University, 1982
Phone: (785) 864-3221
Fax: (785) 864-5860
Area of Interest and Research
As a researcher, I am fascinated by the population biology of plants. My work has primarily been in three areas: 1) studies of the ecology and evolution of plant-fungus and plant-virus interactions, 2) research on the population dynamics of wild sunflowers, and the ecology and genetics of hybridization between crop and wild plants, and 3) long-term demographic studies of a rare prairie plant, Mead’s milkweed, including using “mark recapture” models to estimate population size, detectability, and probability of survival. As an educator, I teach courses in conservation biology, biostatistics, and research methods. I have been fortunate to win several teaching awards, including a Chancellors Club Teaching Professorship. Finally, my outreach and service activities often involve outdoor education and interactions with secondary school science and math teachers.
Alexander, H. M., K. E. Mauck, A. E. Whitfield, K. A. Garrett, and C. M. Malmstrom. 2013. Plant-virus interactions and the agro-ecological interface. European Journal of Plant Pathology (invited review; accepted pending minor revisions).
Alexander, H. M. 2012. An overview of ecological and evolutionary research on disease in natural systems: an annotated reference list. Pp. 97-102 in Sniezko, Richard A.; Yanchuk, Alvin D.; Kliejunas, John T.; Palmieri, Katharine M.; Alexander, Janice M.; Frankel, Susan J., tech. coords. Proceedings of the fourth international workshop on the genetics of host-parasite interactions in forestry: Disease and insect resistance in forest trees. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-GTR-240. Albany, CA: Pacific Southwest Research Station, Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. http://www.fs.fed.us/psw/publications/documents/psw_gtr240/psw_gtr240.pdf
Alexander, H. M., A. W. Reed, W. D. Kettle, N. A. Slade, S. A. Bodbyl-Roels, C. D. Collins, and V. Salisbury. 2012. Detection and plant monitoring programs: lessons from an intensive survey of Asclepias meadii with five observers. PLoS ONE 7(12): e52762. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0052762
Alexander, H. M., B.L. Foster, F. Ballantyne IV, C. D. Collins, J. Antonovics, and R. D. Holt. 2012. Metapopulations and metacommunities: combining spatial and temporal perspectives in plant ecology. Journal of Ecology 100:88-103. (Invited by editor; 100th year anniversary issue).
Mercer, K. L., H. M. Alexander, and A. A. Snow. 2011. Selection on seedling emergence timing and size in an annual plant (common sunflower, Helianthus annuus (Asteraceae). American Journal of Botany 98:975-985.
Begay*, B., H. M. Alexander, and E. Questad. 2011. Effect of mid-summer haying on growth and reproduction in prairie forbs. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science. 114:108-114.
Moore, C.T., C. J. Fonnesbeck, K., Shea, K. J. Lah, P.M. McKenzie, L.C. Ball, M.C. Runge, and H.M. Alexander. 2011. An adaptive decision framework for the conservation of a threatened plant. Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management 2: 247-261.
Emry*, D. J., H. M. Alexander, and M. Tourtellot. 2011. Modeling the local spread of invasive plants: importance of including spatial distribution and detectability in management plans. Journal of Applied Ecology 48: 1391-1400.
Finch*, D. and H. M. Alexander. 2011. Variation in plant traits and disease levels across a woodland/grassland ecotone. American Midland Naturalist 166:309-324.
Alexander, H. M. 2010. Disease in natural plant populations, communities, and ecosystems: insights into ecological and evolutionary processes. Plant Disease 94:492-503.
Alexander, H. M., D. Pilson, J. Moody-Weis, and N. A. Slade. 2009. Geographic variation in dynamics of an annual plant with a seed bank. Journal of Ecology 97:1390-1400.
Alexander, H.M., N. Slade, W.D. Kettle, G.L. Pittman and A. W. Reed. 2009. Detection, survival rates, and dymanics of a cryptic plant, Asclepias meadii; applications of mark-recapture models to longterm monitoring studies. Journal of Ecology 97:267–276.
Moody-Weis*, J., J. Antonovics, H.M. Alexander, and D. Pilson. 2008. Predicting local colonization and extinction dymanics from coarser-scale surveys. Ecography 31:61–72.
Moody-Weis*, J. and H. M. Alexander. 2007. The mechanisms and consequences of seed bank formation in wild sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) Journal of Ecology 95: 851–864.
Alexander, H. M., S. Price**, R. Houser, D. Finch* and M. Tourtellot. 2007. Is there reduction in disease and predispersal seed predation at the border of a host plant’s range? – field and herbarium studies of Carex blanda. Journal of Ecology 95: 446–457.
Grman, E.** and H. M. Alexander. 2005. Factors limiting fruit production in Asclepias meadii in Northeastern Kansas. American Midland Naturalist 153:245-256.
Thrall, P. H., L. G. Barrett**, J. J. Burdon, and H. M. Alexander. 2005. Variation in pathogen aggressiveness within a metapopulation of the Cakile maritime-Alternaria brassicicola host-pathogen association. Plant Pathology 54:265-274.
Garrett, K. A., S. P. Dendy, A. G. Power, G. K. Blaisdell, H. M. Alexander, J. K. McCarron, 2004. Barley yellow dwarf luteovirus (BYDV) in natural populations of dominant tallgrass prairie species. Plant Disease 88:574.
Pilson, D., A. A. Snow, L. H. Rieseberg, and H. M. Alexander. 2003. Effects of a Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) transgene on the fecundity and abundance of weeds: a case study of sunflower. Pages 173-189 in T. Lelley, E. Balaz, and M. Tepfer (Eds.), Ecological Impact of GMO Dissemination in Agro-Ecosystems. Proceedings of an OECD Workshop in Grossrssbach, Austria, Sept. 27-28 2002, Facultas Verlags- und Buchhandels AG, ISBN 3-85076-631-4.
Slade, N. A., H. M. Alexander, and W. Dean Kettle. 2003. Estimation of population size and probabilities of survival and detection in a population of Mead’s milkweed. Ecology 84:791-797.
Alexander, H. M. and A. M. Schrag**. 2003. Role of soil seed banks and newly dispersed seeds in population dynamics of the annual sunflower, Helianthus annuus. Journal of Ecology 91:987-998.
(*graduate student authors, **undergraduate student authors)