Oregon State University Department of Zoology

Elizabeth T. Borer

Assistant Professor

Contact information:

Phone: 541-737-3701
Fax:     541-737-0501


Department of Zoology
Cordley Hall 3029
Oregon State University
Corvallis, OR 97331-2914

Research interests:

I am interested in the ways in which trophic interactions and resource productivity influence community composition.  My approach to understanding communities lies at the interface between quantitative ecological theory and real systems.  In my current work, I am developing community theory that extends existing trophic cascade theory to allow within-trophic level compensation and to account for whole-community stoichiometric constraints.  This spring, I will begin to test this theory with broad-scale experiments in West Coast grasslands, focusing on the community-level (primarily plant and insect) effects of altered nitrogen deposition and exotic plant invasions.  I am also collaborating with several researchers on a project to examine the long-term implications of an aphid-vectored disease, Barley Yellow Dwarf Virus, on West Coast grassland community composition.

My recent projects include synthesizing the divergent theoretical literature on intraguild predation and testing this theory with empirical data to examine the role of intraguild predation in structuring communities.  My other work includes examining where and why trophic cascades occur, mechanisms of coexistence in biological control, and top-down and bottom-up effects in food webs.

I have done quite a bit of work examining the mechanisms of coexistence of two parasitoids: Aphytis melinus and Encarsia perniciosi.  These are two parasitoid wasps involved in biological control of California red scale, an agricultural pest of citrus.  Because the biology this system is well-studied by Bill Murdoch (UC Santa Barbara), Bob Luck (UC Riverside), and many others, and because it has only a few species, it provides a great field system for testing quantitative ecological theory in a real system.


     Borer, E. T., E. W. Seabloom, J. B. Shurin, K.E. Anderson, C. A. Blanchette, B. Broitman, S. D. Cooper, B.S. Halpern. In press. What determines the
strength of a trophic cascade?  Ecology.

Borer, E. T., W.W. Murdoch, and S.L. Swarbrick.  2004. Parasitoid coexistence: Linking spatial field patterns with mechanism.  Ecology 85(3):667-678.

Gram, W. K., E. T. Borer, K. L. Cottingham, E. W. Seabloom, V. L. Boucher, L. Goldwasser, F. Micheli, B. E. Kendall, and R. S. Burton.  2004.  Distribution of plants in a California serpentine grassland: are rocky hummocks spatial refuges for native species?  Plant Ecology 172(2):159-171

Borer, E. T., C. J. Briggs, W.W. Murdoch, and S.L. Swarbrick.  2003.  Testing intraguild predation theory in a field system: Does numerical dominance shift along a gradient of productivity?  Ecology Letters 6:929-935.

Seabloom, E. W., E. T. Borer, V. Boucher, K. L. Cottingham, W. K. Gram, B. E. Kendall, L. Goldwasser, F. Micheli, and R. S. Burton.  2003.  Competition, seed limitation, disturbance, and reestablishment of California native annual forbs.  Ecological Applications 13: 575-592.

Borer, E. T.  2002.  Larval competition of guild members: implications for coexistence via intraguild predationJournal of Animal Ecology 71: 957-965.

Borer, E. T., K. Anderson, C. A. Blanchette, B. Broitman, S. D. Cooper, B. Halpern, E. W. Seabloom, J. B. Shurin.  2002.  Topological approaches to food web analyses: a few modifications may improve our insights.  Oikos 99: 398-403.

Shurin, J. B., E. T. Borer, E. W. Seabloom, K. Anderson, C. A. Blanchette, B. Broitman, S. D. Cooper, B. Halpern.  2002.  A cross-ecosystem comparison of the strength of trophic cascades.  Ecology Letters 5:785-791.

Collins, J. P., A. P. Kinzig, N. B. Grimm, W. F. Fagan, D. Hope, J. Wu, and E. T. Borer. 2000. A new urban ecology. American Scientist 88: 416-425 (.pdf file does not include figures).

Chance, B., E. Borer, A. Evans, G. Holtom, J. Kent, M. Maris, K. Mccully, J. Northrop, M. Shinkwin. 1988. Optical and nuclear magnetic resonance studies of hypoxia in human tissue and tumors. Annals of the N.Y. Academy of Science 551: 1-16.

Weiss, J., E. Borer, and E. Brozyna. 1988. The use of MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imagery) in diagnosis of TMJ disease. Florida Dental Journal 59(4): 9-11.

My full CV

A link to find  out more about NCEAS, where I did a postdoc.