Victoria                       Sork

Victoria Sork

Professor and Dean of Life Sciences

phone:  310-825-7755
fax:  310-206-0484
office:  Terasaki Life Science Bldg 4139
lab:  Terasaki Life Science Bldg 4141

Recent Courses

EE BIOL 194B - Research Group or Internship Seminars: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
EE BIOL 250 - Professional Skills for Biological Research
EE BIOL 261 - Molecular Ecology of Plant Populations

Research Interests

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.

Selected Publications

Thompson. P.T., P.E. Smouse, D.G. Scofield, and V.L. Sork, "What seeds tell us about bird movement: a multi-year analysis of Acorn Woodpecker foraging patterns on two oak species", Movement ecology, 2 : 12- (2014) .

Werth, S. and V.L. Sork, "Ecological specialization in Trebouxia photobionts of R. menziesii across six species-wide ecoregions of western North America", American Journal of Botany, 101 : 1127-1140 (2014) .

Ortego, J., P..F Gugger, E..C Riordan, and V.L. Sork, "Influence of climate niche suitability and geographical overlap on hybridization patterns in southern Californian oaks", Journal of Biogeography, 41 : 1895-1908 (2014) .

Gaddis, K.D., H.L. Zukin, I.A. Dieterich, E. Braker, and V.L. Sork, "Effect of clonal reproduction on genetic structure in Pentaclethra macroloba (Fabaceae: Mimosoideae)", International Journal of Tropical Biology, 62 : 443-454 (2013) .

Moroney, J., P.W. Rundel, and V.L. Sork, "Phenotypic plasticity and differentiation in fitness-related traits in invasive populations of the Mediterranean forb, Centaurea melitensis (Asteraceae", American Journal of Botany, 100 : 2040-2051 (2013) .

Gugger, P., M. Ikegami, and V.L. Sork, "Influence of late Quaternary climate change on present patterns of genetic variation in valley oak, Quercus lobata Ne", Molecular Ecology, 22 : 3598-3612 (2013) .

Andrew RL, L Bernatchez, A Bonin, CA Buerkle, BC Carstens, BC Emerson, D Garant, T Giraud, NC Kane, SM Rogers, J Slate, H Smith, VL Sork, GN Stone, TH Vines, L Waits, A Widmer, LH Rieseberg, "A road map for molecular ecology", Molecular Ecology, 22 : 2605-2626 (2013) .

Petit RJ, J Carlson, AL Curtu, M-L Loustau, C Plomion, A Gonzalez-Rodr?guez, V Sork, A Ducousso, "Fagaceae trees as models to integrate ecology, evolution and genomics. IUFRO Conference, Genetics of Fagaceae and Nothofagaceae, in Bordeaux, France. October 2012", New Phytologist, 197 : 369-371 (2013) .

Sork, V.L., S.N. Aitken, R.J. Dyer, A.J. Eckert, P. Legendre, D.B. Neale, "Putting the landscape into the genomics of trees: Approaches for understanding local adaptation and population responses to changing climate", Tree Genetics and Genomics, 9 : 901-911 (2013) .

Gonzalez-Zamora A, Arroyo-Rodriguez, V., Oyama, K., Sork, V., Chapman, C.A., Stoner, K.E., "Sleeping sites and latrines of spider monkeys in continuous and fragmented rainforests: Implications for seed dispersal and forest regeneration", PLOS ONE, 7 (10): e46852- (2012) .