Ted consulting with scrub jays at Archbold Biological Station.

My research focuses on ecological interactions between frugivorous and nectarivorous vertebrates and their food plants. For the animals, I am interested in the impact of plant phenology on their demography, social organization, and foraging behavior. For plants, I am interested in the impact of vertebrate food choice and foraging behavior on their density and dispersion patterns and genetic structure. My general goal is to determine the degree to which vertebrate mutualists and their food plants are coevolved. 

My recent research has focused on plant-pollinator interactions in the Sonoran Desert, including  gene flow within and between populations of four species of cacti, the evolution of trioecy in the cactus Pachycereus pringlei, the evolution of the obligate mutualism between the senita moth and senita cactus, and the evolution of migratory behavior in Leptonycteris bats.  I am currently exploring plant-animal interactions in the Bahamas.


B.A., Albion College, 1964
M.S., University of Michigan, 1968
Ph.D., University of Michigan, 1969

Field work:

Ecology and behavior of tropical vertebrates; mutualistic interactions between plant-visiting vertebrates and their food plants.


Recent Representative Publications:

 Wilkinson, G. S., and T. H. Fleming.  1996.  Migration and evolution of lesser long-nosed bats, Leptonycteris curasoae, inferred from mitochondrial DNA.  Molecular Ecology: 5: 329-339.

 Fleming, T. H., S. Maurice, and J. L. Hamrick.  1998.  Geographic variation in sex ratios in the trioecious cactus Pachycereus pringlei: the role of Leptonycteris bats.  Evol. Ecology 12: 279-289.

 Fleming, T. H., and J. N. Holland.  1998.  The evolution of obligate mutualisms: the senita cactus and senita moth.  Oecologia 114: 368-375.

Fleming, T. H.  2000.  Pollination of  Sonoran Desert cacti.  American Scientist 88: 432-440.

 Fleming, T. H., C. T. Sahley, J. N. Holland, J. D. Nason, and J. L. Hamrick.  2001.  Sonoran Desert columnar cacti and the evolution of generalized pollination systems.  Ecological Monographs 71: 511-530.

Fleming,  T. H. and A. Valiente-Banuet (eds.).  2002.  Columnar cacti and their mutualists: evolution, ecology, and conservation.  University of Arizona Press, Tucson, AZ.

Research of Current and Recent Graduate Students:

 Ferrari, M.   The effects of  forest fragmentation on populations of Eschweilera coriacea (Lethycidaceae) in eastern Brazil

 Holland, JN.  Linking ecological processes with mutualistic outcomes in an obligate pollination mutualism.

McCain, C.  Effects of forest fragmentation on plant-animal interactions in the Brazilian Amazon.

Muchhala, N.  Evolution of hummingbird- and bat-pollination in Ecuadorian Campanulaceae.

 Nassar, J.  Pollination systems and genetic structure of five species of Venezuelan cacti.

 Newton, L.  Migration and  genetic structure of two species of neotropical nectar-feeding bats.

 Sahley, CT.  Bat and hummingbird pollination of two species of columnar cacti: effects on fruit production and pollen dispersal.

 Wright, D.  Diet and food choice in the dwarf cassowary in Papua New Guinea.

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