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Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Cornell University Cornell University Cornell University Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Alison Power


Hylodes phyllodes, a stream-breeding frog from Atlantic Coastal Forest of Brazil


Biology of Fishes class collecting at Oneida Lake


An Acacia tree backlit by the African sunset


Pisaster ochraceus in the intertidal


Common milkweed, Asclepias syriaca, growing in Ithaca

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Power, Alison


phone: 607-254-4233
room: E331 Corson Hall


Department of Science and Technology Studies
Food Systems and Poverty Reduction IGERT


B.S. 1979, University of Alaska

Ph.D. 1985, University of Washington

Graduate Fields:

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Conservation and Sustainable Development
International Agriculture and Rural Development
Latin American Studies
Science and Technology Studies

Other Cornell Affiliations:

Professor, Department of Science and Technology Studies


agroecology, disease ecology, plant-insect interactions, plant viruses, insect vectors, international agriculture, ecosystem services, food security

Research Focus

My research program focuses on disease ecology in plant communities. Using manipulative field and greenhouse experiments, my students and I have examined how landscape heterogeneity, plant community diversity and composition, host genetic diversity, and plant density and dispersion affect herbivores and pathogens in natural and agricultural ecosystems. We have addressed these topics in various locations in the U.S., Central America, Southeast Asia, and Africa. I am particularly interested in the influence of plant community structure on the epidemiology of insect-borne pathogens of plants, along with the reciprocal impacts of pathogens on the structure of plant communities. In recent years, we have used a group of aphid-transmitted viruses, widespread pathogens of grasses, as a model system to address virus dynamics in western grasslands, co-infection by multiple pathogens, and the ecological risks of transgenic virus resistance in crops. I also have a long-standing interest in agroecology and the interface between food security, food systems, and ecosystem services to and from agricultural systems.

Recent Courses Taught

  • BioEE 1610 Ecology and the Environment
  • IARD 6040 Food Systems and Poverty Reduction: Concepts and Themes
  • IARD 6060 Food Systems and Poverty Reduction: Integration

Selected Publications

O'Rourke, M. E., K. Rienzo-Stack, and A. G. Power. 2011. A multi-scale, landscape approach to predicting insect populations in agro-ecosystems.  Ecological Applications 21:1782-1791.

Power, A. G., E. T. Borer, E. W. Seabloom, P. R. Hosseini, C. E. Mitchell, and E. W. Seabloom. 2011. The community ecology of barley/cereal yellow dwarf viruses in Western US grasslands.  Virus Research 159:95-100.

Borer, E. T., E. W. Seabloom, C. E. Mitchell, and A. G. Power. 2010. Local context drives infection of grasses by vector-borne generalist viruses.  Ecology Letters 13:810-818.

Hall, G. S., J. S. Peters, D. P. Little, and A. G. Power. 2010. Plant community diversity influences vector behaviour and barley yellow dwarf virus population structure.  Plant Pathology 59:1152-1158.

Power, A. G. 2010. Ecosystem services and agriculture: tradeoffs and synergies.  Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 365:2959-2971.

Seabloom, E. W., C. E. Mitchell, A. G. Power, and E. T. Borer. 2010. Viral diversity and prevalence gradients in North American pacific coast grasslands.  Ecology 91:721-732.

Borer, E. T., C. E. Mitchell, A. G. Power, and E. W. Seabloom. 2009. Consumers indirectly increase infection risk in grassland food webs.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 106:503-506.

Power, A. G. 2008. Community ecology of plant viruses. In: Plant virus evolution (M. Roossinck, ed.). Pp. 15-26. Springer, New York.

Power, A. G. and C. E. Mitchell. 2004. Pathogen spillover in disease epidemics.  The American Naturalist 164:S79-S89.

Mitchell, C. E. and A. G. Power. 2003. Release of invasive plants from fungal and viral pathogens.  Nature 421:625-627.