James Mickley

James Mickley

Current Research

My thesis research explores the evolutionary and ecological significance of pentamerism (five-petaled) flowers. As angiosperms diversified, there was a reduction in petal number, and a tendency to fix on five petals throughout many lineages. I am testing whether this fixation for pentamerism is the result of adaptation or stabilizing selection in response to pollinators, or the result of evolutionary constraints.

Most of my research involves the Phlox family (Polemoniaceae), in which many species exhibit natural variation in petal number or inconstancy to the predominantly pentamerous phenotype. By examining the causes of this natural variation, I hope to answer questions about why many other plants are invariant with respect to petal number.

Currently, I am testing the following hypotheses:

  1. Is variation in petal number heritable and can increased/decreased petal number be selected?
  2. Do environmental factors affect petal number?
  3. Do species with different pollination modes or self-pollinated species have varying degrees of inconstancy in petal number?
  4. Do pollinators prefer a certain number of petals?
  5. Is there a fitness cost to increased inconstancy or to maintaining a constant phenotype?


See my website for more information: JamesMickley.com


  • Ferson, S., O’Rawe, J., Antonenko, A., Siegrist, J., Mickley, J., Luhmann, C. C., Sentz, K., and Finkel, A., 2015. Natural language of uncertainty: numeric hedge words. International Journal of Approximate Reasoning, 57, pp.19–39. Link

  • Ferson, S., Mickley, J., & McGill, W., 2012. Uncertainty Arithmetic on Excel Spreadsheets: Add-In for Intervals, Probability Distributions, and Probability Boxes. In First International Symposium on Uncertainty Modeling and Analysis and Management (ICVRAM 2011); and Fifth International Symposium on Uncertainty Modeling and Anaylsis (ISUMA). Reston, VA: American Society of Civil Engineers, pp. 70–77. Link

  • Lowry, E., Rollinson, E. J., Laybourn, A. J., Aiello-Lammens, M. E., Gray, S. M., Mickley, J., and Gurevitch, J.,  2012. Biological invasions: a field synopsis, systematic review, and database of the literature. Ecology and evolution, 3(1), pp.182–196. PDF

  • Mickley, James, Tree Density and Fire Scarring in Minnesota Oak Savanna: Implications for Restoration. Kalamazoo College. 2008 (Undergraduate thesis) PDF

Curriculum Vitae

ResearchGate profile


B.A.(2008) Kalamazoo College, Department of Biology
M.A. (2010) Stony Brook University, Department of Ecology and Evolution
Doctoral Student (2010 – Present) University of Connecticut, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Contact Info

James Mickley
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
75 North Eagleville Rd, U-43
Storrs, CT 06269
Office: Torrey Life Sciences (TLS) 363
Voice: (860) 486-4638
Fax: (860) 486-6364
Email: james.mickley@uconn.edu

Other Interests

  • Biological invasions
  • Fire ecology
  • Lyme disease
  • Field botany
  • Coding in PHP, R, SQL, Python, C++, VBA
  • Photography (Photo website)
  • Ecological research using Arduino and cheap electronic sensors
  • Risk analysis and uncertainty


Links: Altmetrics | Impactstory | ORCID