Humans may not like pack rats and other desert rodents, but biologist Mary V. Price understands their ecological role as seed eaters and plant pollinators. She will fill us in on the lives and habits of these rodents at 3:30 p.m. Thursday (April 12) in the Great Room of the Arizona Senior Academy.
A professor emerita from the University of California at Riverside, Price is now retired but still very active in her field. She has returned to Tucson, along with her husband and colleague Nick Waser, where she continues her studies of “our cousins and neighbors,” the rodents.
Price earned a BA in biology at Vassar College in 1971 and a PhD in zoology and botany at the University of Arizona in 1976.
Price’s research focuses on understanding the ecology of North American deserts and mountains. She has asked why so many desert rodents can coexist, how best to conserve endangered kangaroo rat species, how pollinators and herbivores influence floral evolution and plant population dynamics, and how climate change affects ecological systems. She has studied the impact of rodents as both pollinators and seed distributors in our lands of little rain.
Asked to describe her work, Price once said: “I am exploring how ecologically similar seed-eating desert rodents compete and coexist, and the nature of their interactions with plants. This work also encompasses population and conservation biology of threatened or endangered rodent species.”
Written by Betty Feinberg, Academy Village Volunteer