Welcome to the Tobin
Disturbance Ecology

Patrick Tobin
People in the Lab


Michael Bradshaw (Ph.D. student)
studies the evolution of plant resistance to insect and pathogenic fungi in a variety of systems. The overarching goal of his research is to examine the relationship between host divergence and susceptibility. Michael has a keen interest in ornamental horticulture where non-native organisms have been found to cause substantial economic losses to the industry. Michael received a B.S. from the University of Delaware and a M.S. from the University of Washington studying powdery mildew.

Ryan Garrison (M.S. student)
is interested in the dynamics and management of the Azalea lace bug in Western Washington. This invasive species, which is native to Asia, was detected in the Pacific Northwest in 2008, and it is causing region-wide mortality to azaleas. At particular risk are those azaleas planted along Azalea Way, which was established in the 1930s, at the Washington Park Arboretum. Ryan earned his B.S. from Michigan State University.

Alex Pane (Ph.D. student)
is broadly interested in investigating the interaction of biotic and abiotic disturbance of Western Washington forests in light of the changing climate. The Douglas Fir-Western Hemlock forests of Western Washington are historically characterized by infrequent severe wildfires and relatively low numbers of insect outbreaks, but longer summers mixed with below average rainfall are creating stressful conditions that could increase the frequency of these disturbances. Alex's research looks to unravel these interacting processes to develop models that can more accurately predict these disturbances as the climate continues to change. Alex earned his B.S. from the University of Illinois.

Lila Westreich (Ph.D. student) is interested in pollinator ecology, specifically the developmental effects of non-native plant pollen on native bee species of the Pacific Northwest. The introduction of non-native species can have a direct and cascading effect on the function and structure of native ecosystems. Insect pollinators search among angiosperms to find the most nutritionally sufficient food sources for their offspring, and the effect of pollen from non-native plant species on pollinator colony fitness is not well understood. Lila is working to identify the key factors affecting mason and leafcutter bees across Seattle, as well as native restored and non-native areas, including those affecting emergence. Bee pollinators, especially native species, are increasingly important as other pollinator species are shown to be in decline. Lila earned her B.S. from the University of Minnesota.

Postodoctoral Researchers
Dr. Angela Mech (2016-2017)
Primary project: Predicting the next high-impact insect invasion: Elucidating traits and factors determining the risk of introduced herbivorous insects on North American native plants

Graduate Students
Jacob Betzen, M.S. (2018)
Thesis title: Bigleaf maple decline in western Washington
Sean Callahan,
M.S. (2017)
Thesis title: Effects of traffic-derived Cu pollution and climate change on arboreal Collembola in Western Washington, USA
Michael Freeman,
M.S. (2017)
Thesis title: The role of abiotic and biotic factors in
Douglas-fir decline in the western Cascades, Washington

Riley Metz,
M.S. (2017)
Thesis title: Effects of temperature and host distribution on gypsy moth growth rates along its expanding population front
Marisa Bass,
M.F.R. (2016)
Thesis title: Comprehensive five-year harvest and transportation plan for Hancock Forest Management's Tahoma Client

Undergraduate Students

Kaisja Gifford
Senior Thesis (2017)
Project title: Apples and moths: Phenological asynchrony of plants and insects as a result of climate change

Ceci Henderson,
Senior Thesis (2017)
Project title: The Grapes of Wrath: Invasion potential of Lobesia botrana (European grapevine moth) in Washington State vineyards under varying climate change scenarios
Grace Masaoka, Senior Capstone Project (2017)
Project title: Investigation of the western sword fern disappearance in Seward Park
Constance Lin, Senior Capstone Project (2016)
Project title: Microarthropod species richness and abundance in epiphytic communities along an urban to wildland gradient in Western Washington
Rachel DeCordoba, Senior Thesis (2016)
Project title: Spatial and climate analysis of bigleaf maple decline in Western Washington
Alex Blumenfeld, Senior Capstone Project (2016)
Project title: Modelling the drivers of invasion in North American non-native insects
Kaitlin Stair,
Senior Capstone Project (2015)
Project title: Consumptive and non-consumptive effects of a generalist predator on larval prey growth