Sharon Strauss

image of Sharon Strauss



Population Biology
Evolution and Ecology

Offices and Labs

4326 Storer Hall


1988 PhD Biological Sciences Florida State University
1984 MS Ecology University of Minnesota
1978 BA Biology Harvard University

Research Contribution

Understanding how evolutionary history shapes the traits and ecology of species can provide us with tools for identifying species are 1) more likely to become invasive in new communities, and 2) are less likely to be able to adapt to climate change or other anthropogenic changes in the environment

Research Interests

Multidisciplinary solutions to environmental problems

I am PI and Director of the Responding to Rapid Environmental Change (REACH) IGERT graduate training program. We aim to create students conversant in the many disciplines that are needed for solutions to large environmental problems. We completely support students for two years to take an add-on curriculum to their disciplinary degrees in which students are exposed to the many discplines invovled in solving environmental problems. They receive lectures from ecologists, evolutionary biologists, social scientists, economists, geologists, ethicists and attorneys working with endangered species act and water rights legislation. Students are also trained in communication with policy-makers and the media, and must doa quarter-long non-academic internship with an organization of their choosing. In their second year, students as group conduct a year-long collaborative project in which they take a multidisciplinary approach to a problem of their choosing.

Evolutionary Ecology of Plants and their Interactions with other Species

I am interested in how species evolve as a consequence of community membership (their complex interactions with co-occurring species). I study plant communities mostly, but also work with insect herbivores and pollinators of plants. Most recently, I have been focusing on the role of evolutionary history in community assembly of plants, and in explaining plant-herbivore ecology and evolution. I am also interested also in how invasive species evolve post-invasion in new habitats and the impacts of invasives on the ecology and evolution of co-occurring native species. I am also Principal Investigator on the Responding to Rapid Environmental Change IGERT see below, a graduate training program that fosters collaboration and multidisciplinary solutions to environmental problems. A more detailed discussion of the varied projects going on in my lab can be found at my website.


2002-2003 UC Davis Chancellor's Fellow
2009 Mercer Award from Ecological Society of America
2009 Elected Fellow, California Academy of Sciences

Department and Center Affiliations

Center for Population Biology

CBS Grad Group Affiliations

Population Biology

Specialties / Focus

Population Biology
  • Population Interactions
  • Community Ecology
  • Evolutionary Ecology/Life History Strategies

Graduate Groups not Housed in CBS



5/21/2010 9:26:34 AM
  • Select Recent publications(see others on my website). Odour,A. J.M. Gomez, S.Y. Strauss. 2009. Invasional meltdown or biotic resistance?: differential effects of exotic vertebrate and invertebrate herbivores on plant invasion. Invited contribution to special issue on exotic herbivores in Biological Invasions.
  • Strauss, S. Y., J. A. Lau, T. W. Schoener, and P. Tiffin. 2008. Evolution in ecological field experiments: implications for effect size. Ecology Letters 11:199-207.
  • Lankau, R. A., and S. Y. Strauss. 2008. Community complexity drives patterns of natural selection on a chemical defense of Brassica nigra. American Naturalist 171:150-161.
  • Lankau, R. A., and S. Y. Strauss. 2007. Mutual feedbacks maintain both genetic and species diversity in a plant community. Science 317:1561-1563.
  • Strauss, S. Y., C. O. Webb, and N. Salamin. 2006. Exotic taxa less related to native species are more invasive. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 103: 5841-5845.


Strauss Lab website
  • See website

Field Sites

Northern California coastal prairie at Bodega Bay, Central Valley of California website
serpentine outcrops and other habitats of plants in the clade Streptanthus website

Teaching Interests

Ecology; plant-animal interactions; Evolutionary ecology. Field ecology.


Biolgy BIS 2B Introduction to Biology: Principles of Ecology and Evolution
BIS 002B Introduction to Biology: Principles of Ecology and Evolution
EVE 181 Ecology and Evolution of Animal-Plant Interactions