William C. Wetzel

PhD Candidate
Population Biology Grad Group
University of California, Davis

wcwetzel {a} ucdavis dot edu

Office: 2350 Storer Hall

CV pdf

Spatial ecology of an insect food web
I am interested in how food web dynamics and animal movement may interact to produce spatial distributions of species abundances. The distribution of a consumer species depends on the distribution of its resource, and consumers can influence the distribution of their resources. I seek to understand how bottom-up (resource) and top-down (predation) forces shape the distribution of a food web that includes sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata), a gall-making fly (Eutreta diana), and several species of ants and parasitoid wasps. My field sites are in the eastern Sierra Nevada at the University of California's Valentine Eastern Sierra Reserve. My research combines field observation and experiments with mathematical models using statistical methods including maximum likelihood and hierarchical Bayes.

Press: "Lord of the Flies," The Sheet News, September 2, 2011.

Rangeland conservation
For a second major project, I work with an interdisciplinary team of graduate students ( NSF IGERT) to predict how changing land tax policy will affect ranchers and rangeland conservation in California. The California Land Conservation Act of 1965 (the Williamson Act) until recently provided counties with funds that allowed them to reduce property taxes for land owners who agreed to restrict their land to agricultural uses. The Governor cut nearly all funding to this program, thereby jeopardizing the future of millions of acres of California rangeland. Our group aims to estimate how important the Williamson Act is for the ranching industry and then predict what California would look like if the program were cancelled. For more information, see http://reach.ucdavis.edu/programs/williamsonact.html.

Press: "Loss of Williamson Act would threaten wildlife habitat," Western Farm Press, March 8, 2011.

"Survey finds loss of Williamson Act would threaten wildlife habitat," The Davis Enterprise, March 21, 2011.

Peer-reviewed publications
Karban, R., W.C. Wetzel, K, Shiojiri, S. Ishizaki, S. Ramirez, and J. Blande. Deciphering the language of plant communication: volatile chemotypes of sagebrush. In review at New Phytologist.

Wetzel, W.C. 2014. Density-dependent recruitment structures a heterogeneous distribution of herbivores among host-plants. Ecology (in press).

Hammock, B. and W.C. Wetzel. 2013. The relative importance of drift causes for stream insect herbivores across a canopy gradient. Oikos 122: 1586-1593.

Karban, R. K. Shiojiri, S. Ishizaki, W.C. Wetzel, and R. Evans. 2013. Kin recognition affects plant communication and defense. Proceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences 280: 20123062.

Wetzel, W.C., I. Lacher, S. Daniel, S. Moffitt, and D. Manning. 2012. Survey and landscape analysis reveal potential consequences of Williamson Act for rangeland. California Agriculture 66:131-136. [Journal cover story]

Meek, M., A. Wintzer, W.C. Wetzel, and B. May. 2012. Climate change likely to facilitate the invasion of the non-native hydroid, Cordylophora caspia, in the San Francisco Estuary, CA. PLoS ONE 7:e46373.

Chong, G., W.C. Wetzel, and M. Holloran. 2010. Greater sage-grouse of Grand Teton National Park: Where do they roam? Park Science 27(3): 42-49.

Research photos

↑ An adult female Eutreta diana and the puparium from which she emerged

↑ An adult female Eutreta diana. Drawn by Devyn Orr.

↑ A Eutreta diana larve feeding inside its gall. Drawn by Devyn Orr.

↑ An ant attacking a Eutreta diana gall

↑ The pupa of a parasitic wasp next to the remains of its Eutreta diana meal

↑ Experiments restricting movement or haunted shrubs?


Population Biology Graduate Group

Center for Population Biology

National Science Foundation IGERT: Responding to Rapid Environmental Change

Valentine Eastern Sierra Reserve, University of California Natural Reserve System