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Photo of Ashley, Mary

Mary Ashley, PhD


Biological Sciences


Building & Room:

1031 SELW


900 West Taylor Street Chicago, IL 60607

Office Phone:

(312) 355-8003

Related Sites:


I am a molecular ecologist and population geneticist. I am interested in using genetic variation to investigate ecological and evolution processes including mating systems, gene flow, and landscape genetics. I am also especially interested in applying ecological genetics to issues in conservation biology and the management of threatened species, including genetic aspects of restorations and reintroductions. While my students, postdocs and I have investigated many different species, including both plants and animals, I do have longstanding interests in oaks (genus Quercus) and the evolution of the flora and fauna of the California Channel Islands. Outside of the lab, I am active in promoting participation of women and minorities in STEM fields. I am currently PI on an NSF grant for Hispanic Serving Institutions to develop a culturally relevant curriculum for biology and chemistry students, using the theme of monarch and milkweed interactions.

Selected Publications

(Complete list of publications on Google Scholar)

  1. Capurucho, J. M. G., M. V. Ashley, C. C. Ribas and J. M. Bates. 2018. Connecting Amazonian, Cerrado, and Atlantic Forest histories: Paraphyly, old divergences, and modern population dynamics in tyrant-manakins (Neopelma/Tyranneutes, Aves: Pipridae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution127: 696-705.
  2. Kim, E. S., D. N. Zaya, J. B. Fant, and M. V. Ashley. 2019. Reproductive trade-offs maintain bract color polymorphism in Scarlet Indian paintbrush (Castilleja coccinea). PLoS ONE 14: e0209176.
  3. Palagi, J. M. and M. V Ashley. 2019. Deer florivory is associated with changes in clonal structure of the woodland plant bluebead lily. International Journal of Plant Science180: 357-365.
  4. Ashley, M.V., J. R. Backs, L. Kindsvater and S. T. Abraham. 2018. Genetic variation and structure in an endemic island oak, Quercus tomentellaand mainland canyon oak, Quercus chrysolepis. International Journal of Plant Science179:151-161.
  5. Jinga, P. and M. V. Ashley. 2018. A mountain range is a strong genetic barrier between populations of Afzelia quanzensis (Pod mahogany) with low genetic diversity. Tree Genetics and Genomes, 14 (1).
  6. Zaya, D. N., S. A. Leicht-Young, N. B. Pavlovic, C. S. Hetrea and M. V. Ashley. 2017. Widespread mislabeling of an invasive vine (Celastrus orbiculatus) as a native congener (C. scandens) in horticulture. Invasive Plant Science and Management 10:313-321.
  7. Backs, J. R. and M. V. Ashley. 2016. Evolutionary history and gene flow of an endemic island oak: Quercus pacifica K. Nixon & C.H. Muller (Fagaceae). American Journal of Botany103:2115-2125.
  8. Caballero, I.C. J.M. Bates, M. Hennen,and M.V. Ashley. 2016. Sex in the city: Breeding behavior of urban peregrine falcons in the Midwestern US. PLoS One 11(7): e0159054.
  9. Ashley, M. V., S. T. Abraham, J. R. Backs and W. D. Koenig. 2015. Landscape genetics and population structure in valley oak (Quercus lobata Neé). American Journal of Botany 102:2124-2131.
  10. Kim, E. S., D. N. Zaya, J. B. Fant and M. V. Ashley. 2015. Genetic factors accelerate demographic decline in rare Asclepias species. Conservation Genetics 16:359-369. DOI: 10.1007/s10592-014-0663-3.
  11. Zaya, D.N., S. A. Leicht-Young, N. B. Pavlovic, K. A. Feldheim and M. V. Ashley. 2015. Genetic characterization of hybridization between native and invasive bittersweet vines (Celastrus spp.). Biological Invasions 17(10): 2975-2988. DOI: 10.1007/s10530-015-0926-z


PhD, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, California

BA, Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio