Professor Nicholas A. Barber

Photo of Nicolas A. Barber

Assistant Professor

Educational Background

Ph.D., 2009, University of Missouri-St. Louis

B.S., 2003, St. Louis University

Fields of Interest: plant-herbivore interactions, community ecology.


Nicholas A. Barber

Office: MO 449 (815) 753-4215
Lab:  MO 317 (815) 753-8674
Dept. of Biological Sciences
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, IL 60115

Research Lab Website




Representative Publications

Barber, N. A. and R. T. Fahey.  2015.  Consequences of phenology variation and oxidative defenses in Quercus.  Chemoecology. 

Milano, N. J., N. A. Barber, and L. S. Adler.  2015.  Conspecific and heterospecific aboveground herbivory both reduce preference by a belowground herbivore.  Environmental Entomology 44:317-324.

Orrock, J. L., H. P. Dutra, R. J. Marquis, N. A. Barber.  2015.  Disentangling roles of direct and indirect effects of exotic plant species: competition reduces plant abundance and both competition and apparent competition reduce native plant richness.  Ecology 96:1052-1061.

 Theis, N., N. A. Barber, S. J. Gillespie, R. V. Hazzard, and L. S. Adler.  2014.  Attracting mutualists and antagonists: Trait variation in plants explains the distribution of specialist herbivores and pollinators on crops and wild squash. American Journal of Botany 101:1314-1322.

Barber, N. A. and N. L. Soper Gorden.  2014.  How do belowground organisms influence plant-pollinator interactions?  Journal of Plant Ecology 8:1-11.

Barber, N. A., E. T. Kiers, R. V. Hazzard, and L. S. Adler.  2013.  Context-dependency of arbuscular mycorrhial fungi on plant-insect interactions in an agroecosystem.  Frontiers in Plant Science, in press. 

Barber, N. A., N. Theis, E. T. Kiers, R. V. Hazzard, and L. S. Adler.  2013.  Linking agricultural practices, mycorrhizal fungi, and traits mediating plant-insect interactions.  Ecological Applications, in press.

Barber, N. A., L. S. Adler, N. Theis, E. T. Kiers, and R. V. Hazzard.  2012.  Herbivory reduces plant interactions with above- and belowground antagonists and mutualists. Ecology 93:1560-1570.

Barber, N. A. and R. J. Marquis.  2011.  Light environment and the impacts of foliage quality on herbivorous insect attack and bird predation. Oecologia 166:401-409.

Barber, N. A. and R. J. Marquis.  2011.  Leaf quality, predators, and stochastic processes in the assembly of a diverse herbivore community. Ecology 92:699-708.

Barber, N. A., L. S. Adler, and H. Bernardo.  2011.  Effects of above- and belowground herbivory on growth, pollination, and reproduction in cucumber. Oecologia 165:377-386.

Mooney, K. A., D. S. Gruner, N. A. Barber, S. A. Van Bael, S. M. Philpott, and R. Greenberg.  2010.  Interactions among predators and the cascading effects of vertebrate insectivores on arthropod communities and plants. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 107:7335-7340.

Barber, N. A., R. J. Marquis, and W. P. Tori.  2008.  Invasive prey impacts the abundance and distribution of native predators. Ecology 89:2678-2683.

Van Bael, S. A., S. M. Philpott, R. Greenberg, P. Bichier, N. A. Barber, K. A. Mooney, and D. S. Gruner.  2008.  Birds as predators in tropical agroforestry systems. Ecology 89:928-934.

Research Interests

Photo of caterpillar

My research explores how environmental and biotic factors influence plant traits that affect the outcomes of trophic interactions.  I use manipulative field and greenhouse experiments to explore the direct and indirect interactions between plants, plant mutualists, insect herbivores, and predators. 

Most plants interact with fungal symbionts through an association called mycorrhizae in which plants exchange photosynthates for nutrients taken up by the fungi.  Despite the ubiquity of this interaction, we know relatively little about the ecological and evolutionary consequences of mycorrhizal associations for other community members that interact with plants, such as herbivores and pollinators.  Through greenhouse and field experiments, my research examines how mycorrhizae mediate these plant-insect interactions.

The environmental conditions that plants experience can influence foliage traits with important consequences for insect herbivores.  In the past I studied how light environment, through its effects on leaf quality, affected herbivore community structure and impacts.  I am now examining how variation in plant phenology (timing of spring leaf growth), which may be influenced by climate change, affects insect herbivores and their impacts on plants.