The Prior Lab studies the impacts of environmental change on natural systems and strategies to mitigate impacts.
We explore how invasions, climate change, and land-use change alter antagonistic and mutualistic interactions and impact the diversity and function of communities. We also work on solutions for managing communities and interactions in impacted ecosystems. Our fieldwork takes place in several ecosystems, including oak savannas and temperate forests. We mostly work on plant and insect communities and have a particular fondness for ants and wasps!
Thanks for your interest! Check out our research page for more information about what we do.
Interested in joining the lab?
Summer NSF REU Internship
April 2021: We have four student researchers (with several student co-authors) presenting at BU Research Days poster session! We have several presentations on latitudinal patterns in diversity & range expansions - Rachel is presenting on patterns in parasitoid community diversity, Serena on pattens in the strength of apparent competition, and Kelly on patterns in community traits. Will is presenting on interchangeability of seed-dispersing ants.
March 2021: Carmela gave a presentation on ant-medicated seed dispersal in contemporary forests at the Torrey Botanical Society!
March 2021: Wyatt's honors thesis on effects of forest edges on seed dispersal was published in Ecosphere - also with Carmela!
February 2021: Dylan is presenting his research on latitudinal gradients in cynipid diversity and range expansions at two conferences - the Pacific Ecology & Evolution Conference, the Symposium on the Biology of Galls (in Brazil).
February 2021: Welcome to three new undergraduate researchers - Lilly, Genie, and Justin!
February 2021: We are excited to Welcome new PhD student, Rosey Ines to the lab! Rosey comes to us from Humboldt state and is developing a project on anthropogenic change impacts on species interactions - ants and plants!
February 2021: Dylan and Rachel are both presenting their research at the 2021 BGSO symposium!
December 2020: Goodbye to our graduating seniors - Lena, Jenna. Thanks for all your great contributions, and we'll miss you!
December 2020: Congratulations to Suzy Lee for defending her MSc thesis! Suzy now works for the Salt Lake City Department of Public Lands.
October 2020: Wyatt Parker's honors thesis/summer scholars project with Carmela has been accepted in Ecosphere! Impacts of forest edges on seed dispersal!
September 2020: A week of presentations! Dylan presented at the Biology Department Seminar Series at Roanoke College; Will presented at the Summer Scholars Symposium; Rachel presented at the LSAMP Research Presentation Competition, and Kirsten at Kennesaw State University!
August 2020: Welcome back Prior lab undergraduates - Serena, Jenna, Leslie, Kelly, Will, Allie, and Lena!
August 2020: Carmela and Kirsten organized session at ESA, where Carmela presented her research. The session and their research was covered in Science News!
July 2020: Kirsten, former lab member Shannon Meadley-Dunphy, and Megan Frederickson just had a paper accepted in the Journal of Animal Ecology about the effects of within partner guild interactions on seed dispersal mutualisms!
July 2020: We are excited to welcome new PhD student, Aly Milks, to the lab! Aly will be working on altered host-parasitoid communities and interactions under range expansions.
June 2020: Welcome to the lab, Rachel Chen! Rachel will be starting in the accelerated Master's program in the fall and is joining us this summer as a McNair Fellow! Rachel will work on uncovering the diversity of parasitoids that interact with the cynipid gall community on Q. garryana in western North America.
May 2020: Goodbye to our graduating seniors - John, Jesse, Carley, Julia, and Sage. Thanks for all of the great science, and we'll miss you!
April 2020: Congratulations to recent graduate, John Santare, for receiving the SUNY Chancellor's Award in student Excellence!
April 2020: Congratulations to recent lab members for getting in to graduate programs! Roni will be going to Columbia, Megan to Washington State University, Sarah to the University of Buffalo, and Chris to SUNY ESF!!
March 2020: Congratulations to Will Smisko for being selected as a Summer Scholar! Will's project will examine the effect of climate change on seed dispersal.
August 2019: Kirsten and Carmela are headed to ESA in Louisville! Carmela will present on factors effecting ecological recovery post invasive species management. Kirsten will present on community dynamics of range-expansions in insect-parasitoid systems.
August 2019: Dylan and Carmela and their field crews had super successful field seasons! We're looking forward to processing lots of ant and wasp samples over the coming semesters!!
July 2019: Just received notice that our research on the community dynamics of a range-expanding species is being funded by NSF!
May 2019: Field season is officially underway! Dylan and our new field technician Julia are on their way to Oregon to collect galls, I will head up the gall operations with Katie in Victoria, BC. Carmela and team LUHBI (Carly, Catherine, and John) will be travelling around the northeastern forests.
May 2019: Congratulations to Wyatt for successfully defending his Honor's thesis and for being awarded the Shumann Environmental Studies Award!
May 2019: Congratulations and goodbye to all of our graduating seniors - Dudley, Haley, Catherine, Sarah, Wyatt, and Roni!
April 2019: Congratulations to Carmela Buono for receiving an honorable mention for the NSFGRFP!
February 2019: Kirsten has been awarded a Presidential Diversity Research Grant!
January 2019: Dylan gave a great talk at the annual BU BGSO symposium on host-parasitoid networks & range expansions!
January 2019: New myrmecochory paper out in the American Journal of Botany showing asynchrony in fruit dehiscence and dispersal of ant-dispersed plants!
November 2018: We have been awarded a National Geographic Society grant!! This grant is to study gallwasp and parasitoid diversity in western North America - the hotspot of oak gall diversity!
November 2018: Kirsten had a great time presenting at the Entomological Society of America conference in Vancouver.
October 2018: With the Powell Lab, our outreach team BUgs! participated in our local STEAM day event! We had bug holding, eating, and crafts!
Sept 2018: Carmela was awarded the ESA Invasion Ecology Section's Simberloff award for Outstanding Student Presentation at the Ecological Society of America Conference. Congrats!!
Sept 2018: We are excited that our lab is busy again with all of our returning undergraduate researchers, and we welcome Jesse, Roni, and Melina to the lab!
August 2018: Welcome to our newest PhD student - Dylan Jones! We are super happy to have Dylan join our lab. He is coming to us from Montclair State University and will be working on our host-parasitoid system to ask questions about how global change affects community interactions!
June 2018: We welcome Dudley Britton to the lab this summer! A McNair fellow, who will be working on seed dispersal in primary and secondary northern forests.
May 2018: Congrats to Wyatt for receiving an Undergraduate Summer Scholars Fellowship! This summer, Wyatt will be working on the effects of habitat fragmentation on seed dispersal by ants.
April 2018: The Prior lab had a great showing at BU's Research Day's Poster Session - Catherine, Melissa, Wyatt, and Tim all presented posters on their research.
April 2018: Big congrats to Carmela for winning 2nd place for best graduate student talk at mid-Atlantic ESA!
April. 2018: The Prior lab is headed to mid-Atlantic ESA! Suzy is presenting on altered host-parasitoid interactions under range expansions, Tim on the effect of a pervasive ant on arthropod communities, and Carmela on ecological outcomes of invasive species management. Seriously awesome stuff!
Jan. 2018: Suzy and Carmela did excellent jobs presenting their research at the BGSO Symposium! Nice work guys!
Nov. 2017: Kirsten just had a paper accepted in Ecology! Her first (first-author) paper from her work in the rich and amazing east African ant-acacia mutualism system with Todd Palmer.
Nov. 2017: Congratulations to Catherine and Melissa for receiving Undergraduate Research Awards!
Sept. 2017: Welcome to Shannon Meadley Dunphy, our new Lab Manager! Shannon and I have worked together on ants and seed-dispersal for several years (check out some of her work on the Publications page), and I am very excited to have her helping out on several projects in the lab.
Sept. 2017: New review paper out in Biological Invasions about the resilience of ecological systems to invasions!
Sept. 2017: Super excited to welcome our new Ph.D. student, Carmela Buono to the lab! Carmela is coming to us from Rutgers and will be working on invasive species and seed dispersal.