Faculty and Research

David Lab Members

Aspen Taylor Reese
Graduate Student

2339 CIEMAS  
Box 3382 DUMC 
Durham, NC 27708

Phone: 919.684.8712
Fax: 919.668.0795
Email: aspen.reese@duke.edu

Aspen Reese

Research Interests

I am a second-year PhD student in the University Program in Ecology. My dissertation research is on the mechanisms underlying secondary succession–the process of how communities recover from disturbance–with a particular focus on the role of consumers. Applying traditional ecological theory to the human gut microbiome, I am working with the David Lab to understand more about what structures this community and more about ecology in general. I am using longitudinal meta-genomic data and in vitro model community experiments to figure out what causes post-illness secondary succession. I am particularly interested in the possible role of phage predation and changing oxygen concentration. If we understand this process, we can direct medical interventions to support healthy development of host-associated microbiota.

I also do research with Justin Wright, Duke Biology, in abandoned agricultural fields where I use greenhouse studies, field experiments, and modeling to ask “what is the relative importance of predation, resource availability, and plant traits in determining the rate and pattern of woody plant invasion?”

I completed by undergraduate work at Yale where I did research at the macro-scale including using morphology to understand the force of ecology in the evolution of pika and how the ecology of fear affects community dynamics. I hope to continue asking similar questions, but at both the macro- and micro-level, in my dissertation.


Reese, A.T. C.D. Ficken, A. Braswell, and J.B. Heffernan. Invited. Approaches for testing alternative stable states: a quantitative review.  Ecosystems. 

Sargis, E.J., N. Woodman, N.C. Morningstar, A.T. Reese, and L.E. Olson. 2014. Island history affects faunal composition: the treeshrews (Mammalia, Scandentia, Tupaiidae) from the Mentawai and Batu Islands. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 111:290-304. 

Sargis, E.J., N. Woodman, N.C. Morningstar, A.T. Reese, and L.E. Olson. 2013.Morphological distinctiveness of Javan Tupaia hypochrysa (Scandentia, Tupaiidae). Journal of Mammalogy 94:938-947

Strickland, M.S., D. Hawlena, A.T. Reese, M.A. Bradford, and O.J. Schmitz. 2013. Trophic cascade alters ecosystem carbon storage and release. PNAS 110:11035-11038. 

Reese, A.T., H.C. Lanier, and E.J. Sargis. 2013. Skeletal Indicators of Postcranial Specialization in Pika (Mammalia, Ochotonidae). Journal of Morphology 274:585-602. 

Sargis, E.J., N. Woodman, A.T. Reese, and L.E. Olson. 2013. Using hand proportions to test taxonomic boundaries within the Tupaia glis-T. belangeri species complex (Mammalia, Scandentia). Journal of Mammalogy. 94:183-201.

Dornburg, A., J.G. Colosi, C. Maser, A.T. Reese, and G.J. Watkins-Colwell. 2011. A survey of the Yale Peabody Museum Collection of Egyptian Mammals Collected During the Construction of the Aswan Dam: With an Emphasis on Material from the Yale University Prehistoric Expedition to Nubia (Yupen) 1962-1965. Bulletin of the Peabody Museum of Natural History. 52:255-272.

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