Professor and Dean of Life Sciences
office: Terasaki Life Science Bldg 4139
lab: Terasaki Life Science Bldg 4141
EE BIOL 194B - Research Group or Internship Seminars: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
EE BIOL 261 - Molecular Ecology of Plant Populations
ENVIRON 121 - Conservation of Biodiversity
My research examines evolutionary and ecological processes that affect the genetic composition of natural populations of trees and how that existing genetic variation influences the ability of populations to respond to environmental change.
My current focus employs genomic tools to understand the geographical patterns of adaptive genetic variation in California oak populations by studying environmental gradients of SNPs in candidate genes. This work has direct application for concerns about the ability of tree populations to respond to climate change.
A second area of interest is the study of pollen and seed movement at a landscape scale. Using molecular markers and novel statistical approaches, we study contemporary gene movement through pollen and seeds to understand how these processes shape the genetic composition of tree populations and their long-term evolutionary potential.
A third research interest is phylogeography, which is the study of historical gene flow by analyzing geographic patterns of genetic markers such as gene sequence data or short repeat sequence makers. We have used this approach to two widespread western North America taxa?the epiphytic lace lichen, Ramalina menziesii, and a California endemic oak, Quercus lobata--to understand why the California floristic province is an area of such high biological diversity.
In all these topics, my research integrates genetic patterns across scales that range from a single nucleotide base in a DNA sequence of plant to the landscape to the species' range. This work addresses fundamental questions about the evolutionary ecology of tree species and utilizes that information to inform policies about reserve networks that will optimize their survival in constantly changing landscapes and rapidly changing environment.
Wang, H., Sork, V.L., Wu, J. and Ge, J., "Effect of patch size and isolation on mating patterns and seed production in an urban population of Chinese Pine (Pinus tabulaeformis Carr)", Forest Ecology and Management, 260 : 965-974 (2010) .
Sork VL, FW Davis, R Westfall, A Flint, M Ikegami, HF Wang, and D Grivet., "Gene movement and genetic association with regional climate gradients in California valley oak (Quercus lobata Née) in the face of climate change. ", Molecular Ecology, 19 : 3806-3823 (2010) .
Waits L and VL Sork. (Co-editors), "Special Issue on Landscape Genetics", Molecular Ecology, 19 (17): 3489-3835 (2010) .
Werth S and VL Sork, "Identity and genetic structure of the photobiont of the epiphytic lichen Ramalina menziesii on three oak species in southern California", American Journal of Botany, 97 : 821-830 (2010) .
Scofield DG, VL Sork, and PE Smouse, "Influence of acorn woodpecker social behaviour on transport of coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia) acorns in a southern California oak savannah", Journal of Ecology, 98 : 561-572 (2010) .
Sork, VL & L Waits, " Landscape genetic contributions to molecular ecology ? approaches, insights, and future potential", Molecular Ecology, 19 : 3489-3495 (2010) .
Sork, V.L., F.W. Davis and D. Grivet, "Incorporating genetic information into conservation planning for California valley oak", Proceedings of the Sixth Symposium on Oak Wookdlands: California's Oaks: Today's Challenges, Tomorrow's Opportunitites, Merelender, A., McCreary, D., Purcell, K.L. (tech. eds.), Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-GTR-217. Albany, CA U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station 19 : 497-509 (2008) .
Werth, S. and V.L. Sork, "Local genetic structure in the North American epiphytic lichen, Ramalina menziesii Tayl (Ramalinaceae)", Amer. J. Botany, 95 : 568-576 (2008) .
Grivet, D., V.L. Sork, R.D. Westfall and F.W. Davis, "Conserving the evolutionary potential of California valley oak (Quercus lobata Nee): a multivariate genetic approach to conservation planning", Molecular Ecology, 17 : 139-156 (2008) .
Fernandez-M, J.F.and V.L. Sork, "Genetic variation in fragmented forest stands of the Andean oak Quercus humboldtii Bonpl. (Fagaceae)", Biotropica, 39 : 72-78 (2007) .