Welcome! I am Grace Charles, a PhD candidate in ecology at UC Davis. I am advised by Truman Young.
I am broadly interested in understanding the consequences of biodiversity loss. My work has taken place primarily in the savanna ecosystems of East Africa. Here, I am asking how changes in the presence of large mammal species affect plant and insect communities. What happens if elephants go extinct? What if native mammal species were replaced with livestock? I conduct research within the Kenya Long-term Exclosure Experiment (KLEE), as well as the Ungulate Herbivory Under Rainfall Uncertainty (UHURU) project at Mpala Research Centre in central Kenya.
More recently, I have been studying how two keystone species, elephants and termites, interact to influence changes in savanna structure. You can find more about that, as well as some other projects, on my research page.
I am intrigued by complexity in nature. The consequences of one change can reverberate through ecosystems in ways that are difficult to predict, but important to understand. I'm combining research that spans landscape, ecosystem, and community ecology.
March 2018 - I made my very first interactive web app! Check it out here: https://gracekcharles.shinyapps.io/dreps_shinyio/
January 2018 - I am a co-author on a paper recently accepted into Rangeland Ecology & Management - "Relationships between cattle and biodiversity in a multi-use landscape revealed by the Kenya Long-term Exclosure Experiment (KLEE)." Check back soon on my publication page for the accepted copy.
January 2018 - I am currently in the final stages of writing my dissertation. Working on getting my last few chapters completely ready for publication. Expect to read more about savanna biodiversity feedbacks very shortly!
December 2017 - Exciting news-- I was selected as a Presidential Management Fellows finalist! This program is a pathway into federal government careers. I'm looking forward to exploring opportunities integrating science and public service.
November 2017 - I have been working on a few manuscripts with coauthors. We have been examining relationships between cattle and biodiversity and whether termite mounds influence cattle diet selection. Stay tuned for results.
August 2017 - I am in Portland, Oregon to present my results at the Ecological Society of America meetings. Does diversity always beget diversity? How do large herbivores impact woody plant diversity in savannas? Check out the slides for my presentation here.
October - December 2016 - I'm back in Kenya completing my final field season. Currently focusing on collecting plants for functional trait analysis and termites for some future stable isotope analysis. Excited to collect and analyze.
September 2016 - Our paper on the influence of different herbivore groups on productivity has been accepted in Ecological Applications. View the preprint here and view my summary of the research here.
August 2016 - I presented a poster on the effects of different large herbivores on productivity at ESA 2016 in Fort Lauderdale. View the poster here.
October 2015 - Back in California! Working up some manuscripts, including how different herbivores drive patterns in plant productivity.
July 2015 - I was awarded an NSF GRIP to work with the Smithsonian Institute on the biotic and abiotic drivers of tree diversity at Mpala Research Centre. I will be conducting experiments next spring.
July 2015 - Back in Kenya! I am again investigating the role of termites and in this system. I am also working with REU student Sara Germain of Utah State University looking at how large herbivores drive intra- and interspecific variation in plant functional traits.
June 2015 - I am a co-author on a paper in ecology on the natural history of a sticky plant that wears dead insects like a coat of armor. Pretty metal, right?
May 2015 - I am a co-author on a lab-written paper on the low invasion of harsh sites. Are harsh sites less invaded? Why or why not? A great resource for understanding the relationship between harsh sites and native and invasive plant abundance.
March 2015 - I successfully authored an REU application. I will be taking an undergraduate with me this field season to study how functional traits shift in response to herbivory.
August 2014 - I presented at ESA 2014. View my slides here.
April 2014 - I am in Kenya for the next three months conducting research. Stay tuned!
April 2014 - Paper on the effects of browsers on Solanum campylacanthum survival published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
March 2014 - Data paper on the first five years of the UHURU experiment published in Ecology.
Department of Plant Sciences
Mail Stop 1
UC Davis, 95616
Office: PES 2236
Tel. 530 752 2667
Email gcharles (at) ucdavis (dot) edu