UVA Biology People Jessamyn Manson

Jessamyn Manson

Associate Professor of Biology, General Faculty
420 PLSB 
(434) 924-8831


  • B.Sc.,University of British Columbia
  • Ph.D., University of Toronto

Research Interests

My research examines interactions between plants and animals, focusing on the dynamics that arise when traits that defend plants against antagonists alter relationships with mutualists.  I am interested in how these dynamics structure interactions at different ecological scales, from pairwise relationships up to whole-community responses, as well as how tradeoffs in traits that drive attraction and defense affect fitness in plants and the animals they host.  Specifically, my research examines how the composition of floral rewards and flowering plant communities affect plant-pollinator interactions and pollination.  Using a combination of field experiments and surveys, as well as lab studies, I examine the consequences of variation in floral rewards for native pollinators and plant-pollinator communities in natural and agriculture ecosystems. I use bumble bees as a model lab system to examine pollinator behavior, physiology and health, while my fieldwork addresses interactions between pollinators and individual plants, plant populations, and whole plant communities.

For more information on my research interests, please visit my website.

Representative Publications

  • Kohler, M., A. Sturm, C.S. Sheffield, C.N. Carlyle and J.S. Manson. 2020. Native bee communities vary across three prairie ecoregions due to land use, climate, sampling method and bee life history traits. Insect Conservation and Diversity 13: 571-584.

  • Parachnowitsch, A.L., J.S. Manson and N. Sletvold. 2019. Evolutionary ecology of nectar. Annals of Botany 123: 247-261.

  • Parachnowitsch, A.L.* and J.S. Manson*. 2015.The chemical ecology of plant pollinator interactions: recent advances and future directions. Current Opinion in Insect Science 8:41-16.
  • Manson, J.S., D. Cook, D.R. Gardner and R.E. Irwin. 2013. Dose-dependent effects of nectar alkaloids in a montane plant-pollinator community. Journal of Ecology 101: 1604-1612.
  • Manson, J.S., S. Rasmann, R. Halitschke, J.D. Thomson and A.A. Agrawal. 2012. Cardenolides in nectar are not a mere consequence of allocation to other plant parts: a phylogenetic study of milkweeds (Asclepias). Functional Ecology 26: 1100-1110.
  • Manson, J.S.*, M.C. Otterstatter* and J.D. Thomson. 2010. Consumption of a nectar alkaloid reduces pathogen load in bumble bees. Oecologia. 162: 81-89.
  • Gegear, R.J.*, J.S. Manson*, and J.D. Thomson. 2007. Ecological context influences pollinator deterrence by alkaloids in floral nectar.  Ecology Letters 10: 375-382.

*Equally contributing authors