Catherine A. Toft

image of Catherine A. Toft

Professor Emerita


Evolution and Ecology

Offices and Labs

4331 Storer Hall


1977 PhD Biology Princeton University
1972 BS Fisheries Wildlife Biology Iowa State University

Research Interests

Population biology of desert perennial shrubs and insects, including population structure and demography. Evolution of mating systems using several species of the bee-fly and wasp as model systems. Plant succession, using a demographic approach, on saline alkaline desert lakebeds. Conservation biology of parrots. Citizen science. Animal hoarding.

Department and Center Affiliations

Center for Population Biology
John Muir Institute of the Environment

CBS Grad Group Affiliations

Population Biology

Specialties / Focus

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

Graduate Groups not Housed in CBS


Field Sites

Deserts of the southwestern U.S. including Mono Lake Basin, the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts; tropical rainforests in Peru and Panama

Teaching Interests

Ecology. Conservation biology.


5/21/2010 9:26:34 AM
  • Toft CA and Elliott-Fisk DL. 2000. Patterns of vegetation along a spatiotemporal gradient on shoreline strands of a desert basin lake . Plant Ecology. :in press
  • Toft CA. 1995. A 10-year demographic study of rabbit brush (Chrysothamnus nauseosus): growth, survival, and water limitations. Oecologia. 101:1-12
  • Toft CA. 1989. Population structure and mating system of a desert bee fly (Lordotus pulchrissimus; Diptera: Bombyliidae). 2. Female demography, copulations, and characteristics of swarm sites.. Oikos. 54:359-369
  • Toft, C.A. and J.D. Gilardi, in press. Parrots of the Wild: A Natural History of the World’s Most Endangered Birds. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA.
  • Benard, R.B. and C.A. Toft. 2008. Fine-scale spatial heterogeneity and seed size determine early seedling survival in a desert perennial shrub (Ericameria nauseosa: Asteraceae). Plant Ecology 194:195-205.
  • Benard, R.B. and C.A. Toft. 2007. Effect of seed size on seedling performance in a long-lived desert perennial shrub (Ericameria nauseosa: Asteraceae). International Journal of Plant Sciences 186: 1027-1033.
  • McWilliams, S.R., T. Sloat, C.A. Toft, and D. Hatch. 2007. Effects of prescribed fall burning on a wetland plant community with implications for management of plants and herbivores. Western North American Naturalist 67:299-317.
  • Cook, L.F. and C.A. Toft. 2005. Dynamics of extinction: Population decline in the colonial Tricolored Blackbird Agelaius tricolor. Bird Conservation International 15:73-88.
  • Toft, C.A. and T. Fraizer. 2003. Stage-specific spatial dispersion and density dependence in a population of perennial desert shrub (Chrysothamnus nauseosus: Asteraceae). Ecological Monographs 75:605-624
  • Toft, C.A. and D.L. Elliott-Fisk. 2002. Patterns of vegetation along a spatiotemporal gradient on shoreline strands of a desert basin lake. Plant Ecology, 158: 21-39.
  • Wright, T.F., C.A. Toft , E. Enkerlin-Hoeflich, J. Gonzalez-Elizondo, M.Albornoz, A. Rodríguez-Ferraro, F.J. Rojas-Suárez, V. Sanz, A. Trujillo, S.R. Beissinger, V. Berovides A., X. Gálvez A., A. T. Brice, K. Joyner, J. Eberhard, J. Gilardi, S. E. Koenig, S. Stoleson, P. Martuscelli, J. M. Meyers, K. Renton, A. M. Rodríguez, A. C. Sosa-Asanza, F. Vilella, and J. W. Wiley. 2001. Nest poaching in Neotropical parrots. Conservation Biology 15:710-720.