Sean B Menke


Sean Menke (PhD 2007) studied the factors controlling the spread of the invasive Argentine ant. To achieve this goal, Sean employed a combination of manipulative field experiments and geographical information systems (GIS) analyses. The experimental work clearly illustrated how vulnerability to invasion hinges on fine-scale changes in environmental conditions, such that soil moisture largely controls whether or not the Argentine ant penetrates native ant assemblages in southern California. Sean also tested the common assumption that the abundance of introduced species and the diversity of native species respond in parallel to environmental variation. Field manipulations and GIS-based models demonstrate how this assumption is invalidated in this system and how the factors influencing invader occurrence change with spatial scale. Seanís GIS-based research further demonstrated that environmental niche models, which are commonly used to predict the spread of non-native species, have potentially general limitations, especially when they are used to predict species occurrence in novel environments.

Seanís dissertation was supported by a research fellowship from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Office of Coastal Resource Management Ė Estuarine Reserves Division), and he was awarded the Murray F. Buell Award from the Ecological Society of America for the best student presentation at the 2005 ESA meeting in Montreal. After a postdoctoral stint at North Carolina State University, Sean joined the faculty of Lake Forest College where he is currently an assistant professor.

Publications

Menke, SB, AV Suarez, CV Tillberg, CT Chou and DA Holway. 2010. Trophic ecology of the invasive Argentine ant: spatio-temporal variation in resource assimilation. Oecologia, 164:763-773.

Menke, SB, DA Holway, RN Fisher and W Jetz. 2009. Characterizing and predicting species distributions across environments and scales: Argentine ant occurrences in the eye of the beholder. Global Ecology and Biogeography. 18:50-63.

Menke, SB, RN Fisher, W Jetz and DA Holway. 2007. Biotic and abiotic controls of Argentine ant invasion success at local and landscape scales. Ecology. 88:3164-3175.

Menke, SB and DA Holway. 2006. Abiotic factors control invasion by ants at the community scale. Journal of Animal Ecology. 75:368-376.