David W. Tonkyn


Contact Information

Phone: 864 656-3588
FAX: 864 656-0435
Email: tdavid@clemson.edu


  • Ph.D. Biology, Princeton University
  • A.M. Biology, Princeton University
  • A.B. Biology, Princeton University

Research Interests

  • As a population biologist, I have carried out field, laboratory and theoretical research on a variety of problems in ecology and conservation biology.  My experimental work has focused on the ecology of plants, insects, plant-insect interactions, and even plant-insect-microbe interactions.  My theoretical analyses have addressed problems in population dynamics, evolution, dispersal, and dispersion.  I am always interested in linking these experimental and theoretical studies.  My primary interests now are in two areas of conservation ecology.  First, I am studying the interacting threats of genetic and demographic changes, and disease, to small (captive or endangered) populations.  Second, I am studying the threats of climate change to selected species, particularly those of southern mountains which might be trapped by global climate change.  In both areas, I seek to quantify the risks and to develop management responses that best reduce these risks. 
  • My students have worked on a broad range of projects, mostly of their own choice.  Recent studies include the phylogeography of a high-elevation endemic salamander, the influence of soil calcium on land snail diversity, the island biogeography of ground beetles, and the effects of climate change on a threatened butterfly.
  • Every year I take students to the northern Rocky Mountains of North America and to India, with other colleagues on the faculty, and I am very interested in students wishing to conduct field conservation studies in these areas.

Selected Publications

  • O’Grady, J. J., Brook, B. W., Reed, D. H., Ballou, J. D., Tonkyn, D. W. & R. Frankham.  2006.  Realistic levels of inbreeding depression strongly affect extinction risk in wild populations.  Biological Conservation 133:42-51
  • Jones, M. T., Voss, S. R., Ptacek, M. B., Weisrock, D. W. & D. W. Tonkyn. 2006.  River drainages and phylogeography: An evolutionary significant lineage of shovel-nosed salamander (Desmognathus marmoratus) in the southern Appalachians.  Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 38: 280-287.        
  • Westman, A. L., Medel, S., Spira, T. P., Rajapakse, S., Tonkyn, D. W. & A.G. Abbott.  2004.  Molecular genetic assessment of the potential for gene escape in strawberry, a model perennial study crop,   pp. 75-88 in Introgression from genetically modified plants into wild relatives, H. C. M. den Nijs, D. Bartsch, J. Sweet, eds., CABI Publishing. 
  • Brook, B. W., Tonkyn, D. W., O'Grady, J. & R. Frankham.  2002. Contribution of inbreeding to extinction risk in threatened species. Conservation Ecology 6:16 (16 pp.) [Online] URL:http://www.consecol.org/vol6/iss1/art16
  • Kostreva, M. M., Ogryczak, W. & D. W. Tonkyn.  1999.  Relocation problems arising in conservation biology.  Computers and Mathematics with Applications 37: 135-150. Special journal volume "Global Optimization, Control and Games III", E. A, Galperin, ed.
  • Snyder, W. E., Tonkyn, D. W. & D. A. Kluepfel.  1999.  Transmission of a genetically engineered rhizobacterium by grasshoppers in the laboratory and field.  Ecological Applications 9: 245-253.
  • Snyder, W. E., Tonkyn, D. W. & D. A. Kluepfel.  1998.  Insect-mediated dispersal of the rhizobacterium Pseudomonas chlororaphis.  Phytopathology 88: 1248-1254.
  • Lamb, T. G., D. W. Tonkyn, & D. A. Kluepfel. 1996. Movement of Pseudomonas aureofaciens from the rhizosphere to aerial plant tissue.
    Canadian Journal of Microbiology 42: 1112-1120.
  • Kluepfel, D. A., Lamb, T., Snyder, B. & D. W. Tonkyn.  1994.  Six years of field testing a lacZY modified fluorescent pseudomonad.  pp. 169-176 in The Biosafety Results of Field Tests of Genetically Modified Plants and Microorganisms,  D. D. Jones, ed., University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Oakland, CA. 
  • Tonkyn, D. W. 1992. Estimates and bounds on the rate and extent of allele frequency change.  Heredity 68:465-471.
  • Kulasekera, K. B. & D. W. Tonkyn. 1992.  A new discrete distribution, with applications to survival, dispersal and dispersion.  Communications in Statistics. Series B. Simulation and Computation 21: 499-518.
  • Tonkyn, D. W. & J. H. Plissner. 1991.  Models of multiple dispersers from the nest: Predictions and inference.  Ecology 72: 1721-1730.
  • Tonkyn, D. W.  1986.  Predator‑mediated mutualism: theory and tests in the Homoptera.  Journal of Theoretical Biology 118: 15‑31.
  • Tonkyn, D. W. & B. J. Cole.  1986.  The statistical analysis of size ratios.  American Naturalist 128: 66‑81.

Recent Courses

  • Biosc 441/H441/641 - Ecology
  • Biosc 445/H445/645 - Ecology Laboratory
  • Biosc 803 - Population dynamics
  • Biosc 490 - Rocky Mountain field ecology
  • Biosc 490 - Biodiversity and conservation in India
  • Biosc 494 - Ecoinformatics
  • Biosc 871 - Ecology of infectious diseases
  • Biogeography
  • Community ecology
  • Conservation biology
  • Mathematical modeling in behavioral ecology

Graduate Students

  • Carrie Wells

Professional Affiliations

  • American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • American Zoo and Aquarium Association
  • Conservation Breeding Specialist Group of the IUCN
  • International Biogeography Society
  • Montana Native Plant Society 
  • Society for Conservation Biology