College of Natural & Agricultural Sciences

Erin Rankin

Erin Wilson-Rankin


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.

In 2023, we established the Entomology Teaching Garden--This “living laboratory” offers students the opportunity to learn about our native plants and observe what insect and bird pollinators they attract. If you are interested in supporting the Entomology Teaching Garden, please reach out:

Entomology Teaching Garden logo.jpg

indicates undergraduate co-author; †† indicates a graduate student co-author

60. Wilson Rankin, E.E., J.L. Knowlton, A.J. Shmerling†, and R. Hoey-Chamberlain. (2023).  Diets of two non-native praying mantids (Tenodera sinensis and Mantis religiosa) show consumption of arthropods across all ecological roles. Food Webs. 35: e00280

59. Wilson Rankin, EE and DT Rankin. (2023) Secondary nectar robbing by Lycaenidae and Riodinidae: opportunistic but not infrequent. Ecology 104( 2): e3892

58. Argueta-Guzmán, M. ††, M. West, ††  MP Gaiarsa, CW Allen††, JM Cecala††,  L. Gedlinske††, QS McFrederick, AC Murillo, M. Sankovitz††, and EE. Wilson Rankin. (2023). Words matter: how ecologists discuss managed and non-managed bees and birds. Scientometrics 128:1745–1764.

57. Sankovitz, M. ††, KJ Loope, EE Wilson Rankin & J Purcell. (In Press) Cheating early in a social transition: insights from invasive yellowjacket wasps. American Naturalist. [Accepted 21 July 2022]

56. García, K††, EM Olimpi, L M'Gonigle; DS Karp; EE Wilson-Rankin; C Kremen; DJ Gonthier. (2023) Semi-natural habitats on organic strawberry farms and in surrounding landscapes promote bird biodiversity and pest control potential. Agricultural Ecosystems & Environment. 347: e108353

55. Miner, M.C. †† and E. E. Wilson Rankin. (2023) Bumble bee avoidance of Argentine ants and ant chemical cues. Journal of Insect Behavior 36: 20-32.

54. Saldivar, J., A. †† Romero†, and E.E. Wilson Rankin.  (2022) Community science reveals high diversity of nectaring plants visited by painted lady butterflies (Vanessa cardui). Environmental Entomology.  51 (6):1141–1149

53. Sidhu, C., Lozano, GE†, Miner, MC††, Howe, E, Wilson Rankin, E.E. (2022) Pollination ecology of island endemic plants: a case study on the California Channel Islands. Western North American Naturalist. 82(4): article 1.

52. Knowlton, JL, RE Crafford†, BA Tinoco, PS Padron, and EE Wilson Rankin. (2022) High foraging fidelity and plant-pollinator network dominance of non-native honey bees (Apis mellifera) in the Ecuadorian Andes. Neotropical Entomology.  doi: 10.1007/s13744-022-00967-6

51. Smith, O††; Kennedy, CM.; Echeverri, A; Karp, D; Latimer, C; Taylor, J††; Wilson-Rankin, EE; Owen, J; Snyder, WE. (2022) Complex landscapes stabilize farm bird communities and their expected ecosystem services. Journal of Applied Ecology.  59(4): 927-941.

50. Cecala, J. M. ††, and E. E. Wilson Rankin. (2022). Diversity and turnover of wild bee and ornamental plant assemblages in commercial plant nurseries. Oecologia 198:773-783.

49. Taylor, J. ††, OM Smith††, M. Edworthy, CM Kennedy, CE Latimer, JP Owen, E Wilson Rankin and WE Snyder. (2022). Bird predation and landscape context shape arthropod communities on broccoli. Ornthithological Applications. doi:10.1093/ornithapp/duac005

48. Rankin, DT, KJ Loope, and EE Wilson Rankin. (2022). Seasonal phenology and colony longevity patterns in a predatory social wasp. Western North American Naturalist. 82(1): e13

47. Cecala, JM†† & EE Wilson Rankin. (2022). Petals and leaves: quantifying the use of nest building materials by the world’s most valuable solitary bee. Ecology. 103(2): e03584 doi:10.1002/ecy.3584

46. Spence, AR††, EE Wilson Rankin, and MW Tingley. (2022). DNA metabarcoding reveals broadly overlapping diets in three sympatric North American hummingbirds. Ornithology (formerly known as The Auk). 139 (1): ukab074

45. Smith, O.M. ††, Olimpi, E.M., Navarro-Gonzalez, N., Cornell, K.A., Frishkoff, L.O., Northfield, T.D., Bowles, T.M., Edworthy, M., Eilers, J., Fu, Z., Garcia, K. ††, Gonthier, D.J., Jones, M.S., Kennedy, C.M., Latimer, C.E., Owen, J.P., Sato, C., Taylor, J. ††M., Wilson-Rankin, E.E., Snyder, W.E. and Karp, D.S. (2022), A trait-based framework for predicting foodborne pathogen risk from wild birds. Ecological Applications. 32(2): e2523.

44. Olimpi, E. M., K. Garcia††, D. J. Gonthier, C. Kremen, W. E. Snyder, E. E. Wilson-Rankin, and D. S. Karp. (2022). Semi-natural habitat surrounding farms promotes multifunctionality in avian ecosystem services. Journal of Applied Ecology 59:898-908.

43. Cecala, J.M. †† & E.E. Wilson Rankin. 2021. Pollinators and plant nurseries: how irrigation and pesticide treatment of native ornamental plants impact solitary bees. Proc Roy Soc B. 288(1955): e2021187

42. Scarparo, G.; Sankovitz, M††; Loope, KJ; Wilson-Rankin, EE; Purcell, J. (2021) Early queen joining and long-term queen associations in polygyne colonies of an invasive wasp revealed by longitudinal genetic analysis. Evolutionary Applications. 14: 2901-2914.

41. Rothman, J††; Loope, KJ; McFrederick, QS; and Wilson Rankin, EE. (2021) Microbiome of the wasp Vespula pensylvanica in native and invasive populations, and associations with Moku virus. PLoS One. 16(7):e0255463

40. Loope, KJ and EE Wilson Rankin. (2021) Viral load, not food availability or temperature, predicts colony longevity in an invasive eusocial wasp with plastic life history. Sci Reports. 11: Article number: 10087.

39. Muletz-Wolz CR, Wilson Rankin E, McGrath-Blaser S, Venkatraman M††, Maldonado JE, Gruner DS and Fleischer RC (2021) Identification of novel bacterial biomarkers to detect bird scavenging by invasive rats. Ecology and Evolution. 11: 1814-1828.

38. Cecala, J.M. †† and E.E. Wilson Rankin. (2021). Wild bee functional diversity and plant associations in native and conventional plant nurseries. Ecological Entomology. 46: 1283-1292

37. Wilson Rankin E.E. (2021) Emerging patterns in social wasp invasions. Current Opinion in Insect Science, 46: 72–77.

36. Hazlehurst, J.A., D.T. Rankin, C.J. Clark, Q.S. McFrederick, and E.E. Wilson Rankin. (2021). Macroecological patterns of resource use in resident and migratory hummingbirds. Basic Appl. Ecol. 51: 71-82.

35. Barney SK†, Fukami T, Flaspohler DJ, Giardina CP, Gruner DS, Leopold DR, Knowlton JL, Pitt WC, Wilson Rankin EE. 2021 Successful management of invasive rats across a fragmented landscape. Environmental Conservation, 48(3), 200-207

34. Kim, A.Y.†, Rankin, D.T., Wilson Rankin, E.E. (2021) What is that smell? Hummingbirds avoid foraging on resources with defensive insect compounds. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 75: e132 10.1007/s00265-021-03067-4


33.  Harrop TWR, Guhlin J, McLaughlin GM, Permina E, Stockwell P, Gilligan J, Le Lec MF, Gruber MAM, Quinn O, Lovegrove M, Duncan EJ, Remnant EJ, Van Eeckhoven J, Graham B, Knapp RA, Langford KW, Kronenberg Z, Press MO, Eacker SM, Wilson-Rankin EE, Purcell J, Lester PJ and Dearden PK (2020) High-quality assemblies for three invasive social wasps from the Vespula genus. G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics 10: 3479-3488

32.  Cecala JM††, Baronia DA† and Wilson Rankin EE (2020) Sugar content of diet does not buffer against chronic oral imidacloprid exposure in the alfalfa leafcutting bee (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae). J Econ Entomol. 10.1093/jee/toaa194

31.  Wilson Rankin EE, Cecala JM††, Hernandez Pineda N†, Lu QY†, Pelayo E† and Choe D-H (2020) Differential feeding responses of several bee species to sugar sources containing iridomyrmecin, an Argentine ant trail pheromone component. J Ins Behav. 33: 83-90

30.  Phan P†, Purcell J and Wilson Rankin EE (2020) Formica francoeuri responds to pheromones and defensive chemical cues of social bees. Ins Soc 67: 547-556

29.  Cecala JM†† and Wilson Rankin EE (2020) Mark–recapture experiments reveal foraging behavior and plant fidelity of native bees in plant nurseries. Ecology. 101: e03021

28.  Olimpi EM††, Garcia K††, Gonthier DJ, De Master KT, Echeverri A, Kremen C, Sciligo AR, Snyder WE, Wilson-Rankin EE and Karp DS (2020) Shifts in species interactions and farming contexts mediate net effects of birds in agroecosystems. Ecol Appl. 10.1002/eap.2115: e02115.

27.  Wilson Rankin EE, Barney SK† and Lozano GE† (2020) Reduced water negatively impacts social bee survival and productivity via shifts in floral nutrition. J Ins Sci. 20: 10.1093/jisesa/ieaa1114

26.  Bodden J†, Hazlehurst JA and Wilson Rankin EE (2019) Floral traits predict frequency of defecation on flowers by foraging bumble bees. J Ins Sci. 19: e2

25.  Loope, K. J., Baty, J. W., Lester, P. J., & Wilson Rankin, E. E. (2019). Pathogen shifts in a honeybee predator following the arrival of the Varroa mite. Proc Roy Soc B. 286(1894), 20182499.

24.  Melgarejo V†, Wilson Rankin EE & Loope KJ (2018) Do queen cuticular hydrocarbons inhibit worker reproduction in Bombus impatiens? Ins Soc. doi: 10.1007/s00040-018-0651-6

23.  Rankin DT, Clark CJ & Wilson Rankin EE (2018) Hummingbirds use taste and touch to discriminate against nectar resources that contain Argentine ants. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 72:e44.

22.  Johnston CA††, Wilson Rankin EE & Gruner DS (2018) Foraging connections: Patterns of prey use linked to invasive predator diel movement. PLoS One. 13:e0201883.

21.  Loope KJ, Millar JG & Wilson Rankin EE (2018) Weak nestmate discrimination behavior in native and invasive populations of a yellowjacket wasp (Vespula pensylvanica). Biol Inv. doi: 10.1007/s10530-018-1783-3

20.  Miller SE, Bluher SE, Bell E, Cini A, Silva RCD, de Souza AR, Gandia KM, Jandt J, Loope K, Prato A, Pruitt JN, Rankin D, Wilson Rankin E, Southon RJ, Uy FMK, Weiner S, Wright CM, Downing H, Gadagkar R, Lorenzi MC, Rusina L, Sumner S, Tibbetts EA, Toth A & Sheehan MJ (2018). WASPnest: a worldwide assessment of social Polistine nesting behavior. Ecology. doi: 10.1002/ecy.2448

19.  Wilson Rankin EE, Knowlton JL, Flaspohler DJ, Buckhardt A†, Fukami T, Giardina CP, Gruner DS & Pitt WC (2018) Hawaiian forest birds show vertical niche partitioning via behavioral plasticity in response to invasive rats across a gradient of forest patch size. PLoS One.13: e0202869.

18.  Sidhu CS & Wilson Rankin EE (2018) Distribution and characterization of wild bee nesting sites on San Clemente Island, California Channel Islands. West N Amer Nat. 78: 811-819.

17.  Levan KE††, Barney SK† & Wilson Rankin EE (2018) Introduced ants reduce interaction diversity in a multi-species, ant-aphid mutualism. OIKOS. 127:1132-1141.

16.  Merrill KC††, Boser CL, Hanna C, Holway DA, Naughton I††, Choe D & Wilson Rankin EE. (2018) Argentine Ant (Linepithema humile, Mayr) eradication efforts on San Clemente Island, CA, USA. West N Amer Nat. 78:e32.

15.  Knowlton JL, Flaspohler DJ, Paxton EH, Fukami T, Giardina CP, Gruner DS & E.E. Wilson-Rankin. (2017) Movement behavior of native Hawaiian birds in a naturally fragmented landscape. J Avian Biology. 48:921-931.

14.  Dobelmann J††, Loope KJ, Wilson Rankin E.E., Quinn O, Baty JW, Gruber M & Lester PJ. (2017) Fitness in invasive social wasps: the role of variation in viral load, immune response and paternity in predicting nest size and reproductive output. OIKOS. 126:1208-1218.

13.  Rust, MK, Choe D, Wilson Rankin, EE, Campbell K, Kabashima J & Dimson M. (2016) Controlling yellowjackets with fipronil-based protein baits in urban recreational areas. International Journal of Pest Management. 63:234-241.

12.  Sidhu, CS & Wilson Rankin EE. (2016) Honey bees avoiding ant harassment at flowers using scent cues. Environmental Entomology. 45:420-426.

11.  Sidhu, CS, Calloway SM, Barney SK† & Wilson Rankin EE.  (2016) Host records of Grammia ursina Schmidt, 2009 on San Clemente Island and its potential effect on rare plant restoration (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae: Arctiinae). Pan Pacific Entomologist. 92(3):151-6.

10.  Wilson Rankin, EE. (2015) Level of experience modulates individual foraging strategies of an invasive predatory wasp. Behavioral Ecology & Sociobiology. 69(3): 491-499.

9.     Wilson Rankin, EE. (2014) Social context influences cue-mediated recruitment in an invasive social wasp. Behavioral Ecology & Sociobiology. 68(7): 1151-1161.

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

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

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

5.     Wilson, EE*, Young CV† & Holway DA. (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.

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

3.     Eckles, MA, Wilson EE*, Nieh JC & Holway DA. (2008) Yellowjackets, Vespula pensylvanica, thermoregulate in response to changes in protein concentration. Naturwissenschaften. 95:787-92.

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

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

* Before 2014, I published as Erin E Wilson

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