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Katie Wenzell

katherinewenzell's picture
PhD student
Northwestern University and Chicago Botanic Garden

KWenzell at u dot northwestern dot edu

I'm a third year PhD student in the Skogen-Fant lab. My research centers on how geographic variation in floral traits relates to differences in local pollinators, and how that shapes gene flow and genetic structure among plant populations. I'm currently studying how these factors shape population genetics and phenotypic divergence in the Indian paintbrushes (Castilleja). My work focuses on Castilleja sessiliflora, which shows dramatic variation in floral color (from pink to yellow to white) across its range, and which is the first species in its genus known to be pollinated by hawkmoths. 


Projects
Paintbrushes and Pollinators: Investigating species relationships and possible pollinator shifts in Castilleja (2018)

The wide diversity in the traits and forms of flowers found in flowering plants has long fascinated biologists, and understanding how and why flowers evolve remains important for understanding biodiversity and evolution. In animal-pollinated plants, closely related species are often distinguished based on differences in floral traits, especially if such differences may reflect shifts in major...


Staying connected: How floral variation and local pollinators shape gene flow in downy Indian paintbrush (2017)

Different floral traits-- the color, shape, and scent of flowers-- can attract different groups of pollinators to flowers of a particular species. For many flowering plants, pollinators are primarily responsible for moving the genes of plants (via pollen) between different individuals, and among populations. In population genetics, the movement of gene is termed gene flow, which affects many...


Growing apart?: Documenting range-wide floral variation to investigate a possible pollinator shift in Castilleja sessiliflora (2016)

The adaptation of plants to different kinds of pollinators is considered a driving force of the floral diversity seen among angiosperms. Shifts between pollinators that are accompanied by changes in floral traits provide a key opportunity to investigate the role of pollinators in driving floral trait evolution. Many studies of pollinator shifts, however, fail to address changes in pollinators...