Dr. Mowery earned a PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Toronto. Her research explores invasiveness in animal populations, developing an integrated assessment of traits related to invasive potential in widow spiders.
At Ben-Gurion University, Dr. Mowery will investigate genetic diversity and adaptation in the invasive brown widow spider, Latrodectus geometricus, a globally-distributed generalist predator with neurotoxic venom. Building on her previous work, which found differences in fecundity, size, dispersal propensity, and plasticity in invasive widow spiders, Dr. Mowery will investigate connectivity and genetic differentiation in traits among invasive populations, using single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs).
Invasive spiders can outcompete and displace native species, and may have cascading effects on native prey species and entire ecosystems. To address these issues, Dr. Mowery will lead a research group that studies fast-evolving and ecologically important invasive species using methods in behavioural ecology, evolutionary biology, physiology, and population genetics. The group will use a combination of experimental evolution and common garden experiments in the lab, and studies of the relevance and context of these traits in the field, to focus on how invasive species evolve and adapt to new habitats.