Jennifer S. Thaler



I study the ecological interactions between plants, herbivores, and carnivores in wild and agricultural Solanaceous plant species. My approach focuses on understanding behavioral and phytochemical mechanisms of such tri-trophic interactions, testing theory on the organization of multi-trophic communities, and generating novel strategies to control insect pests.

I teach a variety of courses at Cornell including: BioEE 3690/ENTOM 3690/BioNB 3690 Chemical Ecology, and BioEE 4550/ENTOM 4550 Insect Ecology.

Research Focus

My research goals are to develop a predictive framework for understanding the complex interactions that occur between plant and insect species. Studies of fundamental ecological processes, in both agricultural and wild systems, can provide insight into controlling insect pests and understanding the natural world. My research focuses on ecological interactions between plants, herbivores, and carnivores in agricultural and wild Solanaceous plants. Current research projects focus on understanding the non-consumptive effects of predators on prey and understanding how plants integrate their defenses against multiple attackers.


  • Tigreros, N., A.A. Agrawal & J.S. Thaler (In press): Genetic variation in parental effects contributes to the evolutionary potential of antipredator plasticity. American Naturalist (bioRxiv748251)
  • Aflitto, N., and J.S. Thaler. 2020. Predator Pheromone Elicits a Temporally Dependent Non-Consumptive Effect in Prey. Ecological Entomology, 45: 1190-1199.
  • Wetzel, W.C., N. Aflitto, J.S. Thaler. 2018. Plant genotypic diversity interacts with predation risk to influence an insect herbivore across its ontogeny. Ecology,
  • Hermann, S.L. and J.S. Thaler. 2018. The effect of predator presence on the behavioral sequence from host selection to reproduction in an invulnerable stage of insect prey. Oecologia, 10.1007/s00442-018-4202-7.
  • Tigreros, N., E. Wang and J.S. Thaler. 2018. Prey nutritional state drives divergent behavioural and physiological responses to predation risk. Functional Ecology. 10.1111/1365-2435.13046
  • Helmberger, M., J.S. Thaler; E. Shields; K. Wickings. Entomopathogenic nematode performance against Popillia japonica (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae) in school athletic turf: Effects of traffic and soil properties. Biological Control, accepted.
  • Wetzel, W.C. and J.S. Thaler. 2017. Host-choice reduces, but does not eliminate, the negative effects of a multi-species diet for an herbivorous beetle. Oecologia 186:483-493.
  • Kersch-Becker, M.F., Kessler, A, and J.S. Thaler. 2017. Plant defenses limit herbivore population growth by changing predator-prey interactions. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 284:20171120. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2017.1120
  • Tigreros, N, R. Norris, E. Wang, J. S. Thaler. 2017. Maternally induced intraclutch cannibalism: an adaptive response to predation risk? Ecology Letters 20: 487-494. 10.1111/ele.12752
  • Garrido, E., Díaz, M.F., Bernal, H., Ñústez, C.E., Thaler, J., Jander, G. and K. Poveda. 2017. Costs and tradeoffs of resistance and tolerance to belowground herbivory in potato. Plos One 12:e0169083.
  • Claflin, S., A.G. Power, J.S. Thaler. 2017. Aphid density and community composition differentially affect apterous aphid movement and plant virus transmission. Ecological Entomology 42: 245-254. DOI: 10.1111/een.12381
  • Claflin, S, Jones, L, Thaler, J, Power, A. 2016. Crop-dominated landscapes have higher vector-borne plant virus prevalence. Journal of Applied Ecology 54:1190-1198. 10.1111/1365-2664.12831
  • Wetzel, W. C. and J.S. Thaler. 2016. Does plant trait diversity reduce the ability of herbivores to defend against predators? The plant variability-gut acclimation hypothesis. Current Opinion in Insect Science 14:25-31.
  • Orrock, J.L., A. Sih, M.C.O Ferrari, R. Karban, E.L. Preisser, M.J. Sheriff, and J.S. Thaler. 2015. Error management in plant allocation to herbivore defense. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 8:441-445.
  • Kersch-Becker, M. and J.S. Thaler. 2015. Plant resistance reduces the strength of consumptive and non-consumptive effects of predators on aphids. Journal of Animal Ecology, 84:1222-1232. 10.1111/1365-2656.12371 **winner of 2nd place Elton Prize (best paper of the year by a young scientist)
  • Claflin, S., J.S. Thaler, A. Power. 2015. Predators, host abundance, and host spatial distribution affect the movement of wingless non-colonizing vector Rhopalosiphum padi (L.) and PVY prevalence in an oat/potato system. Arthropod-Plant Interactions 9:301-309. 10.1007/s11829-015-9370-3
  • Thaler, J.S., E.L. Olsen, I. Kaplan. 2015. Jasmonate-induced plant defenses and prey availability impact the preference and performance of an omnivorous stink bug, Podisus maculiventris. Arthropod-Plant Interactions, 9:141-148. DOI: 10.1007/s11829-015-9357-0.
  • Raguso, R.A., Agrawal, A.A., Douglas, A.E., Jander, G., Kessler, A., Poveda, K, and J.S. Thaler. 2015. The raison d'être of chemical ecology. Ecology, 96:617-630. DOI 10.1007/s00442-014-3069-5

BIOEE Courses - Spring 2024

BIOEE Courses - Fall 2024