Eric Goolsby

Eric Goolsby

Eric Goolsby

Visiting Fellow

1300 Centre Street
Boston, MA 02131
Phone: 617.384.5631
Fax: 617.384.6596


PhD Candidate, University of Georgia
BS Biology, University of Georgia

Research Interests

I am interested in the evolution of a rare plant trait called metal hyperaccumulation, which is the uptake and storage of extremely high concentrations of normally toxic metals (e.g., arsenic, lead, nickel, cadmium) in plant leaves. For my dissertation research, I am studying the evolution of heavy metal hyperaccumulation and abiotic stress tolerance in plants using the diverse genus Helianthus as a study system. I am particularly interested in the evolution of phenotypic responses to abiotic stress, and a major component of my dissertation research has been the development of phylogenetic comparative methods for studying function-valued trait evolution (Goolsby 2015, Systematic Biology). Using these novel methods, I am investigating the evolutionary interplay between abiotic stresses (soil salinity and heavy metals) and plant physiological responses (salt and metal tolerance and accumulation, and changes in key plant ecophysiological traits) using a dose-response curve approach. I am also using these tools to test evolutionary hypotheses regarding the adaptive benefits of heavy metal hyperaccumulation in a phylogenetically explicit framework.

At the Arnold Arboretum, I am working to expand these methods to incorporate other types of function-valued and other high-dimensional complex multivariate phenotypes, such as plant morphometric evolution and developmental trajectories. I am also evaluating the descriptive and predictive power of these methods in empirical systems using the vast collections at the Arnold Arboretum.

Selected Publications

  • Goolsby EW. 2015. “Phylogenetic comparative methods for evaluating the evolutionary history of function-valued traits.” Systematic Biology. In press.
  • Goolsby EW, Mason CM. 2015. “Toward a more physiologically and evolutionarily relevant definition of metal hyperaccumulation in plants.” Frontiers in Plant Science. 6:33.
  • Donovan LA, Mason CM, Bowsher AW, Goolsby EW, Ishibashi CD. 2014. “Ecological and evolutionary lability of plant traits affecting carbon and nutrient cycling.” Journal of Ecology. 102:302-314.
  • Goolsby EW, Mason CM, Jordan AM, Wojcik AM, Black MC. 2013. “Acute and chronic effects of diphenhydramine and sertraline in Ceriodaphnia dubia.” Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. 32:2866-2869.
  • Milton EF, Goolsby EW, Donovan LA. 2013. “Cultivated Helianthus annuus differs from two wild relatives in germination response to simulated drought stress.” Helia. 36(59):35-46.