RICK (CHARLES F) WILLIAMS
Associate Professor of Biology
Department of Biological Sciences
921 S. 8th Avenue, Stop 8007
Idaho State University
Pocatello, ID 83209-8007 USA
Curator of Botany
Ray J. Davis Herbarium
Idaho Museum of Natural History
921 S. 8th Avenue, Stop 8096
Idaho State University
Pocatello, ID 83209-8096 USA
Ecology and Evolutionary Genetics of Plant Reproduction and Dispersal,
Pollination and Seed Dispersal Biology, Mating System Evolution, Gynodioecy
Molecular Ecology, Population and Quantitative Genetics, Behavior
Research Teaching Students Publications CV Etc.
My research examines the interelationships between plant ecology and population genetics, and how these in turn influence the evolution of plant reproduction. In this regard I study things like how differences in fruit and seed morphology affect dispersal and gene flow, how pollinator behaviors differ in relation to flower and inflorescence size or density, and how this in turn affects plant outcrossing rates, etc. Most projects involve both a field and laboratory component. Much of the field work currently takes place at The Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, near Crested Butte, Colorado. In the lab I use a number of genetic markers (allozymes, nuclear microsatellites, AFLPs, and chloroplast DNA RFLPs and sequences) to examine the genetic consequences of variation in reproductive ecology and infer the ecological and evolutionary history of different plant populations and species. I also collaborate with other researchers and students to apply molecular genetic techniques to answer ecological and evolutionary questions about a variety of other organisms, both plants and animals. Several of my main projects are outlined below:
Hermaphrodite Flower Female Flower
1. Evolution of Gynodioecy in Geranium richardsonii. Gynodioecy is the production of separate hermaphroditic and female individuals in a population. Femaleness, or loss of male reproductive function, is caused by one or more male-sterility genes typically located in the mitochondrial genome. Male sterility should be at a fitness disadvantage unless it is compensated for by increased female reproductive success relative to hermaphrodites. My research with Geranium richardsonii examines several hypotheses for the selective maintenance of male sterility including resource allocation to flowers and seeds (female flowers are smaller, but produce more seeds than hermaphrodites), and self-fertilization and inbreeding depression (females cannot self, while hermaphrodites do so at rates > 50% and appear to suffer substantial inbreeding depression at different stages of the life cycle). Additionally, relative fitness of the genders is density- and frequency-dependent, with females suffering pollen limitation when at high frequency. I am investigating this phenomenon of density- and frequency-dependent fitness at a number of different spatial scales (local neighborhood, population, metapopulation). I am also investigating the mode of inheritance of male-sterility through a multi-generation crossing experiment. Finally, I am developing chloroplast DNA markers to investigate gene flow through seeds, and its relation to dispersal of male-sterility genes.
2. Reproductive Ecology and Genetics of Delphinium species. The genus Delphinium (Ranunculaceae), or Larkspurs is globally distributed and over 60 species occur in North America. Larkspurs are pollinated predominantly by bumblebees and hummingbirds. I have been investigating the reproductive biology, population genetics, and mating systems of two common species of the Western US, Delphinium nuttallianum, and D. barbeyi. Delphinium nuttallianum blooms shortly after snowmelt and has only 5-10 flowers on a single stalk. This species is highly outcrossed and hence shows little spatial genetic structure. Delphinium barbeyi blooms later, and has hundreds of flowers on multiple stalks. Self pollination by geitonogamy (between flowers on the same plant) reduces outcrossing to about 50%, and populations are highly structured in space at a number of scales. With students and collaborators I am currently investigating the effect of variation in inflorescence size and plant density on the mating systems of these and other Delphinium species.
3. Alternative Male Mating Strategies and Multiple
Paternity in Burying Beetles. In
Dr. Rosemary Smith (ISU), I have been investigating the paternity of burying beetle (Nicrophorus sp.) broods using microsatellite markers. Burying beetles have biparental care of their brood, which is raised on a buried small mammal carcass as a resource. Larger males are at a reproductive advantage in securing a carcass and defending it against intruding males. Smaller males may adopt a "female mimic" strategy in which they are able to sneak copulations and thus gain at least partial paternity of broods they do not help to raise. Additionally, females may be able to store sperm and thus not all offspring within the brood may by the progeny of the resident male. Using highly variable microsatellite DNA markers we are assessing the prevalence of multiple paternity in the field and the success of alternative male strategies in laboratory-raised broods.
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I've taught several courses since coming to ISU. There are links to each course web site for those I am currently teaching. I am also involved in teaching and mentoring research students at The Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory each summer.
General Ecology - BIOL 209. 4 credits; (Fall 2000)
Flora - BIOL
2213. 2 credits. Identification and natural history of regional fall
flora. Field trips, collections, laboratory examination of plant
material. Every Fall (Fall 2011)
Spring Flora - BIOL 2214. 2 credits. Identification and natural history of regional spring flora. Field trips, collections, laboratory examination of plant material. Every Spring (Spring 2010)
Ecological Topics - BIOL 318/518. 2 credits. Molecular Techniques in Ecology. PREREQ. BIOL 209 (Fall 1999).
General Genetics - BIOL 358. 3 credits. Basic principles of heredity and variation including transmission (Mendelian), molecular, and population genetics. PREREQ: BIOL 101 AND 102, AND BIOL 206. Every semester (Fall 2001, Spring 2006)
Systematic Botany - BIOL 412/512. 4 credits. Study of the classification and evolution of flowering plants, and techniques of phylogeny reconstruction based on molecular and morphological characters. Collection and identification of local flora. Field trips. PREREQ: BIOL 101 AND 102, BIOL 358 and 417 recommended. Every Spring semester (Fall 2001, Spring 2003, 2004, 2008).
- BIOL 442/542. 3 credits. Coevolutionary relationships of
plants and animals emphasizing pollination, herbivory, parasitism,
frugivory/seed dispersal and evolution of plant/animal form and
function. PREREQ: BIOL 209. Alternate Spring semesters
(2003, 2005, 2009).
Evolutionary Ecology - BIOL 614. 3 credits. Evolutionary theory applied to ecological processes. Topics include: selection theory, ecological correlates of evolutionary forces, life-history theory, ecological genetics, coevolution. PREREQ: BIOL 209, 358, 417. Alternate Fall semesters (Fall 2002, 2004, 2007, 2009)<>Seminar in Floral Biology - BIOL 692 - Reading and discussion of the primary literature in pollination biology and floral evolution. Topics include genetic basis of floral variation, adaptive nature of floral traits, natural selection on floral form, floral gender dimorphism, coevolution and speciation. Occasional offering (Spring 2005 - with Paul Beardsley).
Evolution Seminar - BIOL 692 - Reading and discussion of the primary
literature in morphological evolution and diversity, focusing on
adaptation, definitions of fitness, multivariate selection, and
speciation. Occasional offering (Spring 2005 - with Noah Anderson)
Darwin Seminar -
BIOL 499/599 - A seminar for graduate students and advanced
undergraduates to read and discuss Darwin's influential work.
Occasional offering (On the Origin of Species - Spring 2006, Descent of
Man and Selection in Relation to Sex - Fall 2008)
Evolution of Flowers Seminar - BIOL 499/599 - Using Harder and
Barrett's (2006) volume "Ecology and Evolution of Flowers" and the
primary literature to explore recent theoretical and empirical advances
in the field (Fall 2008)
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INFORMATION FOR PROSPECTIVE STUDENTS: Students interested in research in molecular ecology, plant reproductive ecology, and plant population genetics, evolution or systematics are welcome to contact me about the graduate program and potential research projects at ISU and RMBL. I have been actively involved in training undergraduate and graduate students in research and teaching. There are many opportunities for research at both the undergraduate and graduate levels in the Department of Biological Sciences at Idaho State University. The department offers graduate training in the Master of Science, Ph.D. and Doctor of Arts (for students emphasizing college teaching) programs. There is funding available for both undergraduate and graduate research through the University Undergraduate and Graduate Research Committees, Teaching Assistanceships in the Department of Biological Sciences and the NSF funded GK-12 program. Graduate students are encouraged to develop an independent research project and apply for external funding through State and Federal agencies, including the National Science Foundation.
STUDENTS: Since moving to ISU I've worked with a
number of M.S. and Ph.D. students as
research advisor, graduate committee member, and mentor for Doctor of Arts (D.A.) teaching internships.
Some of the students and projects are listed below:
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versions of some of these papers are available by clicking on the links
below. If you need a
copy of Acrobat Reader for your computer it can be downloaded for free at the Adobe Acrobat site.
D.T., A.R. Ahedor, C.F. Williams, C. DePamphilis, D.J. Crawford, and
Q.-Y. Xiang. 2008.
Genetic analysis of a broad hybrid zone in Aesculus (Sapindaceae) – Is there evidence of
long-distance pollen dispersal? International Journal of Plant Sciences 169(5):647-657.
Saprolegniaceae identified on amphibian eggs throughout the Pacific Northwest,
transcribed spacer sequences and phylogenetic analysis. Mycologia 100(2):171-180.
2007. Effects of floral display size and biparental inbreeding on
outcrossing rates in
Delphinium barbeyi (Ranunculaceae). American Journal of Botany 94(10): 1696-1705.
Keeler, K. H., C.
F. Williams, and L. S. Vescio. 2002. Clone size of Andropogon
gerardii Vitman (Big
Bluestem) at Konza Prairie, Kansas. American Midland Naturalist 147:295-304.
Williams, C. F.,
Ruvinsky, J., Scott, P. E., and D. K. Hews. 2001.
Pollination, breeding system, and genetic
structure in two sympatric Delphinium (Ranunculaceae) species. American Journal of Botany 88(9):
Waser, N. M., and
C. F. Williams. 2001. Inbreeding and outbreeding. Pp.
84-98 In C.W. Fox, D. A. Roff, and
D. J. Fairburn (eds.), Evolutionary ecology: concepts and case studies. Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford, UK.
Williams, C. F.,
M. A. Kuchenreuther, and A. Drew. 2000. Floral
pollinator attraction and
self-fertilization in gynodioecious Geranium richardsonii. (Geraniaceae). American Journal of Botany
Williams, C. F.
and N. M. Waser. 1999. Spatial genetic structure in Delphinium
about gene flow. Heredity 83(5):541-550.
Storz, J. F., and
C. F. Williams. 1996. Summer population structure of
bats in Colorado.
Southwestern Naturalist 41(3):322-324.
F. 1994. Genetic consequences of seed dispersal in
sympatric forest herbs. II.
Microspatial genetic structure within populations. Evolution 48(6): 1959-1972. [Evol94b.pdf]
Williams, C. F.
and R. P. Guries. 1994. Genetic consequences of seed
dispersal in three sympatric forest
herbs. I. Hierarchical population genetic structure. Evolution 48(3): 791-805. [Evol94a.pdf]
Williams. 1990. Phenology, seed dispersal, and
(Cecropiaceae) in Costa Rican tropical dry forest. J. Trop. Ecol. 6:163-178.
Mock, D.W., T. C.
Lamey, C.F. Williams, and A. Pelletier. 1987.
Flexibility in the development of heron sibling
aggression: an intraspecific test of the prey-size hypothesis. Anim. Behav. 35:1386-1393.
C.F. 1986. Social organization of the bat, Carollia
perspicillata (Chiroptera: Phyllostomidae).
C.F. Williams, F.J. Bonaccorso, and L.H. Herbst. 1985.
Phenology, seed dispersal, and
colonization in Muntingia calabura, a neotropical pioneer tree. Amer. J. Botany 72:383-391.
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Download a .pdf version of my recent CV (updated August 2007)
EDUCATION and TRAINING:
NSF Postdoctoral Fellow, University of California-Riverside and RMBL
Project Title: Spatial genetic structure and genetic demography of Delphinium nelsonii.
Advisor: Nickolas M. Waser
1991 Ph.D. in Botany, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI.
Dissertation title: Spatial genetic consequences of seed dispersal: a comparative study of
three sympatric forest herbs (Umbelliferae). Advisor: Donald M. Waller
1985 M.S. in Biology, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL.
Thesis title: Social organization of the bat, Carollia perspicillata (Chiroptera: Phyllostomidae).
Advisor: Theodore H. Fleming
1979 B.S. in Zoology, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK.
Ecology and evolution of gynodioecy, population genetic consequences of plant-animal interactions and dispersal, molecular population genetics, spatial genetic structure of plant populations, evolution of plant mating systems and co-evolution of plants and pollinators, ecology and genetics of invasive plants, pollination and seed dispersal biology, plant evolutionary ecology, ecology and behavior of bats, birds, and insects.
EMPLOYMENT AND TEACHING RECORD:2008-present Associate Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Idaho State Univ.
Botanical Society of America, Ecological Society of America, Society for the Study of Evolution, Sigma Xi.
Associate Editor: Evolution (2002-2004)
for: American Journal of Botany, American Naturalist, Australian
J. Botany, Biotropica,
Canadian Journal of Botany,
Ecology, Ecology Letters, Evolution, Functional Ecology, Genetics, Heredity, Journal of Heredity, Journal of Tropical Ecology,
Oecologia, The Prairie Naturalist, Trends in Ecology and Evolution, National Science Foundation
Member of the Board of Trustees (two 5 year terms; 1996-2000, 2001-2005); Secretary (2001-2003).
Service on numerous committees, including: Research Committee (1993-2001, Chair 1993-96),
Land Protection Committee (Chair 1996-97), Curriculum Committee (1995-1997, 2000), Internal Review
Committees (1996-98), Master Plan Revision Committee (1999-2000), Douglas Distinguished Lecturer
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Southeast Idaho and Southwest Colorado are pretty nice places to live and work!
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