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Morrison, Colin

Colin R Morrison

Postdoctoral Fellow
Department of Integrative Biology

herbivory, plant-insect interactions, community ecology, chemical ecology, biological invasions


Office Location

Hello! I am a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of Texas at Austin. I am a member of of the Invasive Species Research group based at UT Austin's Brackenridge Field Laboratory. 

Our research program investigates topics about the ecology and evolution of biological invasions. We use integrative theoretical and experimental approaches to advance basic understanding of our field. We also collaborate with international researchers to deliver classical biological control agents of invasive plants and insects, and apply our understanding to landscape level habitat restoration.

My role is conceiving, supervising implementing projects in the plant-herbivorour insect interactions section of the lab.

CLICK HERE for a link to my CV.




I am fascinated with developing an expansive knowledge of natural history and the ways in which researchers can combine theory, observation, and quantitative tools to develop deeper understanding of it. My eyes are open for interesting interactions and I am keen to entertain the possibility of conducting investigations that explore questions that field observations raise. 

Feel free to reach out to me if you are interested in discussing collaboration at crmorrison@utexas.edu 

And check out my pesonal website for more details about past and current work:




Publications as of March 2024:

Morrison, C. R., Smiley, J. T., MacNeill, F., Salazar, G., Sedio, B. A., and L. E. Gilbert. In prep. Secondary metabolites and ant attendance drive the diverse assemblage structure of a coevolved passion vine specialist insect community.  

Moskowitz, N. A., Alvarez-Buylla, A., Morrison, C. R., Chamba, A., Rentería, J., Tapia, E. A., Coloma, L. A., Donoso, D. A., and L. A. O’Connell. In prep. Poison frog diet and chemical defense are influenced by availability and selectivity for ants https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2022.06.14.495949v1

Morrison, C. R., Armstrong, W.A., and L. E. Gilbert. In press. Egg cannibalism by passion vine specialist Disonycha Chevrolat flea beetles (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae). https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.04.15.005611v1

Morrison, C.R., Hart, L., Wolf, A., Sedio, B. E., Armstrong, W.A., and L. E. Gilbert. 2024. Higher soil nutrient availability provides plants with survival bonuses, not trade-offs: correlated growth traits, chemical defenses, and metabolomic expression of a tropical passion vine. Functional Ecology. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2435.14537

The Herbivory Variability Network, … C.R. Morrison, … and W.C. Wetzel. 2023. Plant size, latitude, and phylogeny explain within-population variability in herbivory. Science 382: 679–683. https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/

Morrison, C.R., Plowes, R. M., Ng'iru, I., Rhodes, A. C., Martins, D. J., & Gilbert, L. E. 2023. Arthropod associates of Kenyan buffelgrass (Cenchrus ciliaris): a field survey for biological control candidates of a globally important invasive grass. African Entomology 31. http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/2254-8854/2023/a16178

Morrison, C.R., Nguyen, C., and L. E. Gilbert. 2023. The role of host plant usage and the accumulation of toxic secondary chemical compounds across the life cycle of a passion vine specialist butterfly. Ecological Entomology. https://doi.org/10.1111/een.13229

Morrison C. R., Rhodes, A. R., Bowman, E. A., Sedio, B. E., Plowes, R. M., and L. E. Gilbert. 2023. Adding insult to injury: Light competition and novel weapons interact to facilitate Guinea grass invasion. Ecosphere 14:e4438. https://doi.org/10.1002/ecs2.4438

Morrison, C. R., Plowes, R. M., Jones, N. T., and L. E. Gilbert. 2020. Host quality does not matter to native or invasive cactus moth larvae: grave implications for North American prickly pears. Ecological Entomology 46:319–333. https://doi.org/10.1111/een.12964

Darragh, K., Montejo-Kovacevich, G., Kozak, K. M., Morrison, C. R., Figueiredo, C., Ready, J., Salazar, C., Linares, M., Byers, K. J. R., Merrill, R. M., McMillan, W. O., Schulz, S., and C. D. Jiggins. 2020. Species specificity and intraspecific variation in the chemical profiles of Heliconius butterflies across a large geographic range. Ecology and Evolution 10:3895–3918. https://doi.org/10.1101/573469.

Smiley, J. and C. R. Morrison. 2020. Using a portable hydrogen cyanide gas meter to uncover a dynamic phytochemical landscape. Applications in Plant Sciences 8:e11336. https://doi.org/10.1002/aps3.11336

Concha, C., Wallbank, R. W. R., Hanly, J. J., Fenner, J., Livraghi, L., Rivera, E. S., Paulo, D. F., Arias, C., Vargas, M., Sanjeev, M., Morrison, C. R., Tian, D., Aguirre, P., Ferrara, S., Foley, J., Pardo-Diaz, C., Salazar, C., Linares, M., Massardo, D., Counterman, B. A., Scott, M. J., Jiggins, C. D., Papa, R., Martin, A., and W. O. McMillan. 2019. Interplay between developmental flexibility and determinism in the evolution of mimetic Heliconius wing patterns. Current Biology 29:3996–4009. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2019.10.010

Morrison, C. R., Aubert, C., and D. M. Windsor. 2019. Variation in Host Plant Usage and Diet Breadth Predict Sibling Preference and Performance in the Neotropical Tortoise Beetle Chelymorpha alternans (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae: Cassidinae). Environmental Entomology 48:382–394. https://doi.org/10.1093/ee/nvy194.

Morrison, C. R. 2018. Predation of top predators: cane toad consumption of bullet ants in a Panamanian lowland wet forest. The Journal of Tropical Ecology 0:1–5, https://doi.org/10.1017/S0266467418000342.

Morrison, C. R., and D. M. Windsor. 2017. The life history of the neotropical Tortoise Beetles Chelymorpha alternans from the Republic of Panama. Annals of the Entomological Society of America 111:31–41. https://doi.org/10.1093/aesa/sax075.

Darragh, ​K., Vanjari, S., Mann, F., Gonzalez, M. R., Morrison, C. R., Salazar, C., Pardo-Diaz. C., Merrill, R. M., McMillan, W. O, Schulz, S., and C. D. Jiggins. 2017. Male sex pheromone components in Heliconius butterflies released by the androconia affect female choice. PeerJ e3953. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.3953.

Glassmire, A. E., Jeffrey, C. S., Forister, M. L., Parchman, T., Nice, C. C., Jahner, J. P., Wilson, J., Walla, T., Robinson, L., Smilanich, A. M., Morrison, C. R., Simbaña, W., Salgaje, L. A., Dodson, C., Miller, J., Leonard, M. D., and L. A. Dyer. 2016. Intraspecific phytochemical variation drives population and community structure for specialist caterpillar. New Phytologist 212:208–219. https://doi.org/10.1111/nph.14038.

  • Special commentary from the editor: Kessler A. (2016) The geographic mosaic of plant chemistry and its

effects on community and population genetic diversity. New Phytologist 212:8–10.  https://doi.org/10.1111/nph.14136.

Bernhard, J. M., Morrison, C. R., Pape, E., Beaudoin, D. J., Todaro, A., Pachiadaki, M. G., Kormas, K. A., and V. P. Edgcomb. 2015. Metazoans of redoxocline sediments in Mediterranean deep-sea hypersaline anoxic basins. BMC Biology 13. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12915-015-0213-6.

Bernhard, J. M., Kormas K., Pachiadaki, M. G., Rocke, E., Beaudoin, D. J., Morrison, C. R., Visscher, P. T., Cobban, A.,Starczak, V. R., and V. P. Edgcomb. 2014. Benthic protists and fungi of Mediterranean deep hypersaline anoxic basin redoxcline sediments. Extreme Microbiology 5. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2014.00605.

Baguley, J. G., Montagna, P. A., Cooksey, C., Hyland, J. L., Bang, H. W., Kamikawa, A., Bennetts, P., Morrison, C. R., Saiyo, G., Parsons, E., Herdener, M., and M. Ricci. 2014. Community response of deep-sea soft-sediment metazoan meiofauna to the Deepwater Horizon blow out and oil spill. Marine Ecological Progress Series 528:127–140. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps11290 .

Awards as of March 2024:


Over $156,000 in grants, scholarships and fellowships awarded over career. Over $123,000 awarded as a graduate student.

Ari Blattstein Fellowship, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, USA

  • January 2023 ($3,000)

Graduate School Professional Development Award, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, USA

  • June 2022 ($845)

UT Integrative Biology Research Award, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, USA

  • Spring 2021- Fall 2022 ($7,450)

Stengl-Wyer College of Natural Science Fellowship, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, USA

  • September 2020 – August 2021 ($34,000)

Coleopterists Society Graduate Student Research Enhancement Award, Coleopterists Society, USA

  • May 2020 ($2,000)

Jean Andrews Intern Summer Fellowship, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, USA

  • Summer 2020 ($6,600)

Sigma Xi Grant in Aid of Research, Sigma Xi: The Scientific Research Honor Society, Research Triangle, NC, USA

  • January 2020 ($450)

UT Integrative Biology Start Up Grant, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, USA

  • April 2019 ($1,960)

NSF LSAMP – REU Mentor Program, National Science Foundation USA & Organization for Tropical Studies, CR

  • Summer 2019 ($3,600)

UT Departmental Recruitment Fellowship, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, USA

  • Fall 2018 – Summer 2019 ($27,000)

UT Summer Research Fellowship, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, USA

  • Summer 2018 ($6,600)

NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program, National Science Foundation USA

  • Spring 2018 (Honorable Mention)

Texas Ecolab Research Grant, Braun & Gresham Associates, Dripping Springs, TX, USA

  • Spring 2018 – Fall 2020 ($28,875)

Linda Escobar Award, UT Austin, Austin, TX, USA

  • February 2017 ($1,500)

STRI Pre-doctoral Fellowship, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama City, Panama

  • December 2015 – November 2017 ($22,000)

STRI Short-Term Fellowship, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama City, Panama

  • June 2015 – November 2015 ($4,800)

Pack Pride Scholarship, University of Nevada, Reno, NV, USA

  • 2008 to 2010 ($3,000)

Millennium Scholar, University of Nevada, Reno, NV USA

  • 2008 to 2012 ($7,680)

Eagle Scout Award, Boy Scouts of America, Las Vegas, NV USA

  • 2008

Presentations as of March 2024:


3rd International Biological Control Congress – Invited talk (June 2024)

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, UT Austin – Invited talk (April 2024)

UTeach – Invited talks (February 2024)

Ecological Society of America – Contributed talk (August 2022, 2023)

Entomological Society of the USA – Contributed talk (August 2022, 2023)

City of Austin Wild Neighbors Series – Invited talk (June 2023)

Texas Master Naturalists, Balcones Canyonlands – Invited talk (August 2021)

Native Plant Society of Texas – Invited talk (December 2021)

Coleopterists Society Annual Meeting – Invited talk (December 2020)

Entomological Society of the USA – Poster (November 2020)

Ecological Society of America – Late Breaking Poster (August 2020)

Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology – Invited Rising Star in Organismal Botany (January 2020)

Entomological Society of the USA – Contributed Ten Minute Paper Competition (November 2017, 2018, 2020, 2021)

UT Science Under the Stars Public Lecture Series – Science education (March 2019, October 2020)

UT Ecology Seminar – Contributed Ecolunch Research Presentation (Spring 2018, Spring 2019, and Spring 2020)

UT Integrative Biology – Contributed Graduate Research Symposium (April 2018)

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute – Invited Fellows Symposium (February 2016)

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute – Contributed Behavioral Discussion Group (October 2015)

Courses Taught: 

Teaching Assistant – The University of Texas at Austin

  • Ecology (BIO 373), Spring 2022
    • Professor: Dr. Laura Gonzales
  • Freshman Research Initiative - Biodiversity (BIO 206L/NSC 109), Spring 2018
    • Professor: Dr. Susan Cameron Devitt
  • Introduction to Cell & Molecular Biology (BIO 311C), Fall 2017
    • Professor: Dr. Jennifer Frtitz

       Course Facilitator – The University of Texas at Austin

Guest Lecturer – Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

  • Yale Tropical Biology Course, Entomology Section, Spring 2016
    • Professor: Dr. Eliza Comita
  • Introductory Tropical Field Biology (aka Gigante Course), Fall 2015
    • Professors: Dr. Sabrina Amador & Dr. James Coronado Riviera

Teaching Assistant – University of Nevada, Reno

  • Entomology (Biology 437), Spring 2013 & 2014
    • Professors: Dr. Lee Dyer

Teaching Assistant – University of Nevada, Las Vegas

  • Aikido (PEX 115), Fall 2016 & Spring 2017
    • Professor: Sensei Don Bannai


I am from Las Vegas, NV. It has been many years since I left Las Vegas to begin the journey of finding myself an amazing career. This journey took me to Reno, NV (where I did my undergaduate studies at UNR), then to Gamboa Panama (long-term Fellowship with STRI), back to Nevada for a quick breather, next to Austin TX where I completed my PhD in Ecology, Evolution and Behavior with the legendary Dr. Larry Gilbert!