Research InterestIndirect interactions, Natural selection, Plant-animal interactions, Plant evolutionary ecology, Plant mating systems, Predator-pollinator-plant interactions
University of Guelph, MS Integrative Biology, 2016
Trent University, BA Biology and Anthropology, 2011.
Originally hailing from upstate New York, Amanda has lived and worked around the globe including Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, and South Korea. She has a keen interest in education which began with a summer job as an Environmental Educator. After completing an honors BA, Amanda taught English in public elementary and middle schools in South Korea for two years. She began her PhD here at UT in 2016 and has been an active member of the EEB community serving on numerous committees, as the president of the graduate student organization GREBE, and as an organizer and mentor for the EEB Mentoring Program to connect undergraduate students with grad student mentors. In addition to serving as a teaching assistant, Amanda has been instructor of record for Field Botany and the Evolution Discussion seminar.
Indirect species interaction – when one species affects another through an intermediary species – are ubiquitous in nature, yet the eco-evolutionary dynamics of these indirect interactions and their effect on adaptive evolution and are poorly understood. Plant-pollinator interactions form a keystone mutualism that drives diversification and adaptive evolution. However, many predators prey upon pollinators altering their abundance and behavior. I explore the myriad ways that pollinator predators indirectly affect plants by altering pollinator abundance and behavior. Specifically, I am investigating the impact of crab spiders on interactions between a long-lived perennial wildflower Calochortus luteus [Liliaceae] and its pollinator community to determine how crab spiders: 1) affect the frequency and duration of pollinator visits and the taxonomic identity of floral visitors ; 2) alter phenotypic selection on floral traits; and 3) affect plant mating system, fitness and inbreeding depression within plant populations.
Awards and Recognitions
Outstanding publication by a graduate student, UT EEB 2020
Teaching Excellence Award, Graduate Student Senate, UT 2017
American Society of Naturalists Research Grant 2020
Sigma Xi Grant in Aid of Research 2019
Botanical Society of America Research Grant 2017
Rosemary Grant Graduate Research Award from the Society for the Study of Evolution 2017
Benoit, A. D. and S. Kalisz. In press. Predator effects on plant-pollinator interactions, plant reproduction, and floral evolution. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics.
Benoit, A. D., M.G. Oliver, R. J. Vichich, and J. M. Budke. In review. First record of the non-native plant Portulaca amilis (Portulacaceae) in Tennessee. Castanea.