College of Natural & Agricultural Sciences


Erin Rankin

Erin Wilson-Rankin

Associate Professor

BSc Biology 2002

Georgetown University, Washington DC

PhD Biological Sciences 2009

University of California, San Diego

Research Areas

Invasive species, food webs and trophic dynamics, community ecology

Contact Information
Entomology Bldg. 124
(951) 827-5735

My research focuses on investigating species interactions and their effects on trophic dynamics and ecosystem services within the contexts of invasion biology, community ecology and evolutionary ecology. Biological invasions alter ecosystems and their functioning, but predicting these effects has proven difficult. Both invaders and native taxa can undergo micro-evolutionary changes or display phenotypic plasticity following a biological introduction. The degree and form of this plasticity can affect invaders’ evolutionary and ecological success. Typically, adaptations relevant to invasion success are attributed to either recent evolutionary responses to novel selection pressures (in introduced ranges) or long-term adaptations to local conditions (in native ranges). Thus, native-introduced range comparisons shed light on how and when invader traits evolve. Integrating quantitative, stable isotope and molecular approaches, my work evaluates these interactions by quantifying invader impacts in the field, identifying the mechanisms underlying these interactions, evaluating their contributions to ecosystem services and determining traits that facilitate invasion. Specific areas of current research involve life history evolution of invasive species, invasive generalist predators and trophic impacts of multi-channel omnivory.


Wilson Rankin, EE. 2014. Social context influences cue-mediated recruitment in an invasive social wasp. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. 68:1151-1161

Wilson, EE & EM Wolkovich. 2011. Scavenging: how carnivores and carrion structure communities. Trends in Ecology and Evolution. 26: 129-135.

Wilson, EE, CS Sidhu, KE LeVan & DA Holway. 2010. Pollen foraging behavior of solitary Hawaiian bees revealed through molecular pollen analysis. Molecular Ecology. 19: 4823-4829.

Wilson, EE & DA Holway. 2010. Multiple mechanisms underlie displacement of solitary Hawaiian Hymenoptera by an invasive social wasp. Ecology. 91: 3294-3302.

Wilson, EE, CV Young & DA Holway. 2010. Predation or scavenging? Thoracic muscle pH and rates of water loss reveal cause of death in arthropods. Journal of Experimental Biology. 230: 2640-2646.

Wilson, EE, LM Mullen & DA Holway. 2009. Life history plasticity magnifies the ecological effects of a social wasp invasion. Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences. 106: 12809-12813.

Eckles, MA, EE Wilson, DA Holway & JC Nieh. 2008. Protein quality elevates thoracic temperatures of foraging western yellowjackets, Vespula pensylvanica (Hymenoptera: Vespidae). Naturwissenschaften. 95: 787-792.

Wilson, EE, DA Holway & JC Nieh. 2006. Cold anesthesia decreases foraging recruitment in the New World bumblebee, Bombus occidentalis. Journal of Apicultural Research. 45: 169-172.

Weiss, MR, EE Wilson, & I Castellanos. 2004. Predatory wasps learn to overcome the defenses of their larval prey. Animal Behaviour. 68: 45-54.

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