Steven J. Franks

Steve Franks


Department of Biological Sciences
Fordham University
Larkin Hall - 350
441 East Fordham Road
Bronx, NY 10458

Phone: 718-817-3609
Fax: 718-817-3645
Email: [email protected]
Franks' Lab Website

  • A.B., Brown University, Biology, 1993
    Masters Certificate, University of Georgia, Conservation Biology, 2002
    Ph.D., University of Georgia, Botany, 2002
    Research Associate, USDA Invasive Plant Research Lab, 2002-2004
    Postdoctoral Researcher, University of California, Irvine, 2004-2007


  • I study plant ecology and ecological genetics and am particularly interested in rapid, contemporary evolution. I work on topics such as evolutionary responses to climate change and evolution in invasive species. One of the main approaches I use for studying evolution is the resurrection approach of comparing ancestors and descendants under common conditions. My research combines field work, greenhouse and lab experiments, and quantitative and molecular genetics and genomics. I focus on testing key components of contemporary ecological and evolutionary theory with the goal of attaining a more complete understanding of evolution in natural systems.

  • Project Baseline
    This NSF-funded multi-collaborator effort entails collecting seeds of key species throughout North America in a way that will allow the use of ancestor-descendant comparisons ( Franks et al. 2008) to investigate evolution in natural populations in response to ongoing changes in climate.

    The Genetic Basis of Climate Change Adaptation
    Following the first study to demonstrate rapid evolution in a natural plant population in response to a change in climate ( Franks et al. 2007), I am currently investigating the genetic basis of evolutionary changes in flowering time in the annual plant Brassica rapa (field mustard).

    Other Projects
    Other projects in the lab involve examining evolution in invasive and introduced species, evolution of herbicide and herbivory resistance, and plant reproductive ecology and evolution.

    Graduate and undergraduate positions may be available for work on these and other projects. For more information, please contact me ([email protected]).

  • Johnson, S, E Hamann, SJ Franks. 2022. Rapid-cycling Brassica rapa evolves even earlier flowering under experimental drought. American Journal of Botany 109: 1683-1692. DOI: 10.1002/ajb2.16002

    Ćalić, I, SC Groen, JY Choi, Z Joly-Lopez, E Hamann, MA Natividad, K Dorph, CLU Cabral, RO Torres, G Vergara, A Henry, MD Purugganan, SJ Franks. 2022. The influence of genetic architecture on responses to selection under drought in rice. Evolutionary Applications 15: 1670-1690. DOI: 10.1111/eva.13419

    Johnson, S, E Hamann, SJ Franks. 2022. Rapid, parallel evolution of field mustard (Brassica rapa) under experimental drought. Evolution 76: 262-274. DOI: 10.1111/evo.14413

    Kottler, EJ, J Sexton, NC Emery, E Dickman, SJ Franks. 2021. Draining the swamping hypothesis: Little evidence that gene flow reduces fitness at range edges. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 36: 533-544. DOI: 10.1016/j.tree.2021.02.004

    VanWallendael, A, M Alvarez, SJ Franks. 2021. Patterns of population genomic diversity in the invasive Japanese knotweed species complex. American Journal of Botany 108: 857-868. DOI: 10.1002/ajb2.1653

    O'Hara, NB, SJ Franks, NC Kane, S Tittes, JS Rest. 2021. Evolution of pathogen response genes associated with increased disease susceptibility during adaptation to an extreme drought in a Brassica rapa plant population. BMC Evolutionary Biology 21:61. DOI: 10.1186/s12862-021-01789-7

    Hamann, E, C Blevins, SJ Franks, MI Jameel, JT Anderson. 2020. Climate change alters plant-herbivore interactions. Invited review in New Phytologist 229: 1894-1910. DOI: 10.1111/nph.17036

    Hamann, E, CS Pauli, Z Joly-Lopez, SC Groen, JR Rest, NC Kane, MD Purugganan, SJ Franks. 2020. Rapid evolutionary changes in gene expression in response to climate fluctuations. Molecular Ecology 30: 193– 206. DOI: 10.1111/MEC.15583

    Groen, SC, I Ćalić, Z Joly-Lopez, AE Platts, JY Choi, M Natividad, K Dorph, WM Mauck, B Bracken, CL Cabral, A Kumar, RO Torres, R Satija, G Vergara, A Henry, SJ Franks, MD Purugganan. 2020. The strength and pattern of natural selection on rice gene expression. Nature 578: 572–576 DOI: 10.1038/s41586-020-1997-2

    Franks, SJ, MR Sekor, S Davey, AE Weis. 2019. Artificial seed aging reveals the invisible fraction: Implications for evolution experiments using the resurrection approach. Evolutionary Ecology 33: 811-824. DOI: 10.1007/s10682-019-10007-2

    Brown, P, RELISH Consortium [SJ Franks is of many authors], Y Zhou. 2019. RELISH-DB a large expert-curated database for benchmarking biomedical literature search. Scientific Data. DOI: 10.1093/database/baz085

    Ziska, LH, DM Blumenthal, SJ Franks. 2019. Evolution of invasive weeds in a changing climate. Invasive Plant Science and Management. Invited review. (Accepted April 9, 2019).

    Ansaldi, BH, JJ Weber, C Goodwillie, SJ Franks. 2019. Low levels of inbreeding depression and enhanced fitness in cleistogamous progeny in the annual plant Triodanis perfoliata. Botany. DOI: 10.1139/cjb-2019-0022

    Dickman, E, L Pennington, SJ Franks, J Sexton. 2019. Evidence for adaptive responses to historic drought across a native plant species range. Evolutionary Applications. DOI: 10.1111/eva.12803

    Ansaldi, BH, SJ Franks and JJ Weber. 2018. The influence of environmental factors on breeding system allocation at large spatial scales. AoB Plants. 10: ply069. DOI: 10.1093/aobpla/ply069

    Sekor, MR and SJ Franks. 2018. An experimentally introduced population of Brassica rapa (Brassicaceae). 2. Rapid evolution of phenotypic traits. Plant Ecology and Evolution. In press.

    Hamann, E, AE Weis and SJ Franks. 2018. Two decades of evolutionary changes in Brassica rapa in response to fluctuations in precipitation and severe drought. Evolution. In press.

    Ansaldi, BH, JJ Weber and SJ Franks. 2018. The role of phenotypic plasticity and pollination environment in the cleistogamous, mixed-mating breeding system of Triodanis perfoliata. Plant Biology. DOI:10.1111/plb.12877

    Sekor, MR and SJ Franks. 2018. An experimentally introduced population of Brassica rapa (Brassicaceae). 1. Phenotypic selection over three years following colonization of a novel environment. Plant Ecology and Evolution. 151 (2): 209–218. DOI: 10.5091/plecevo.2018.1354.

    VanWallendael, A, E Hamann and SJ Franks. 2018. Evidence for plasticity, but not local adaptation, in invasive Japanese knotweed (Reynoutria japonica) in North America. Evolutionary Ecology.

    Franks, SJ, N Genovese, M Stockdale, JJ Weber, B Ansaldi, E van Wilgenburg. 2018. The effects of artificial selection for rapid cycling in Brassica rapa on herbivore preference and performance. International Journal of Plant Sciences.

    Franks, SJ, E Hamann and AE Weis. 2018. Using the resurrection approach to understand contemporary evolution in changing environments. Evolutionary Applications 11: 17-28. doi: 10.1111/eva.12528.

    Emel, S, SJ Franks and R Spigler. 2017. Phenotypic selection varies with pollination intensity across populations of Sabatia angularis. New Phytologist. 215: 813-824. doi: 10.1111/nph.14608

    Franks, SJ. 2016. A harvest of weeds yields insight into a case of contemporary evolution. Molecular Ecology 25: 4421-4423.

    Franks, SJ, NC Kane, NB O’Hara, S Tittes, JS Rest. 2016. Rapid genome-wide evolution in Brassica rapa populations following drought revealed by sequencing of ancestral and descendent gene pools. Molecular Ecology. doi: 10.1111/mec.13615. Cover Article.

    O’Hara, NB, JS Rest and SJ Franks. 2016. Increased susceptibility to fungal disease accompanies adaptation to drought in Brassica rapa. Evolution 70: 241-248. doi: 10.1111/evo.12833.

    Weber, JJ, LB Vary, CES Berg, BH Ansaldi and SJ Franks. 2016. How evolution occurs in a population: The pollination game. American Biology Teacher. 78: 149-154. doi: 10.1525/abt.2016.78.2.149.

    Etterson, JR, SJ Franks, SJ Mazer, RG Shaw, NL Soper-Gorden, HE Schneider, JJ Weber, KJ Winkler, AE Weis. 2016. Project Baseline: An unprecedented resource to study plant evolution across space and time. Invited paper in a special feature in American Journal of Botany 103: 164-173. doi:10.3732/ajb.1500313

    Brown, JL, JJ Weber, D Alvarado-Serrano, MJ Hickerson, SJ Franks, AC Carnaval. 2016. Predicting the genetic consequences of future climate change: the power of coupling demography, the coalescent, and contemporary genetic patterns. Invited paper in a special feature in American Journal of Botany 103: 153-163. doi:10.3732/ajb.1500117.

    Franks, SJ. 2015. The unique and multifaceted importance of the timing of flowering. American Journal of Botany 102: 1401-1402. doi: 10.3732/ajb.1500234.

    Welt, RS, A Litt, SJ Franks. 2015. Analysis of population genetic structure and gene flow in Brassica rapa following a rapid evolutionary response to drought. AoB Plants 7: plv026. doi:10.1093/aobpla/plv026. This paper received an ‘Editor’s Choice’ award.

    Weis, AE, SM Wadgymar, MR Sekor and SJ Franks. 2014. The shape of selection: Using alternative fitness functions to explore patterns of selection on flowering time. Evolutionary Ecology 28: 885-904.

    Franks, SJ, J Munshi-South. 2014. Go forth, evolve, and prosper: The genetic basis of adaptive evolution in an invasive species. Molecular Ecology 23: 2137-2140.

    Colautti, RI, SJ Franks, RA Hufbauer, PM Kotanen, M Torchin, JE Byers, P Pyšek, O Bossdorf. 2014. The Global Garlic Mustard Field Survey: Challenges and opportunities of a unique, large-scale collaboration for invasion biology. NeoBiota 21: 29–47.

    Franks, SJ JJ Weber, S Aitken. 2014. Evolutionary and plastic responses to climate change in terrestrial plant populations. Invited contribution to a special issue of Evolutionary Applications 7: 123-139.Barnum, K, SJ Franks. 2013. Seed extracts impede germination in Brassica rapa plants. International Journal of Plant Biology. In press.

    Franks, SJ, AA Hoffmann. 2012. Genetics of climate change adaptation. Annual Reviews in Genetics 46:185-208.

    Franks, SJ, G Wheeler and C Goodnight. 2012. Genetic variation and evolution of secondary compounds in native and introduced populations of the invasive plant Melaleuca quinquenervia. Evolution. 66: 1398-1412.

    Franks, SJ. 2011. Plasticity and evolution in drought avoidance and escape in the annual plant Brassica rapa. New Phytologist 190: 249-257.

    Franks, SJ, PD Pratt and ND Tsutsui. 2011. Genetic consequences of a demographic bottleneck in a biological control insect. Conservation Genetics 12: 201-211.

    Franks, SJ. 2010. Population genetics of island and coastal dune plants. Journal of Plant Biology. 2: 481-488.

    Richards, CL, SN White, MA McGuire, SJ Franks, LA Donovan, R Mauricio. 2010. Plasticity, not adaptation to salt level, explains variation along a salinity gradient in a salt marsh perennial. Estuaries and Coasts 33: 840-852.

    Franks, SJ. 2009. Genetics, evolution and conservation of island plants. Journal of Plant Biology 2: 481-488.

    Franks, SJ, and AE Weis. 2009. Climate change alters reproductive islolation and potential gene flow in an annual plant. Evolutionary Applications 2:481-488.

    Franks, SJ, PD Pratt, FA Dray, and EL Simms. 2008. Selection of herbivory resistance and growth rate in an invasive plant. American Naturalist 171:678-691.

    Franks, SJ, JC Avise, WE Bradshaw, JK Conner, JR Etterson, SJMazer, RG Shaw, and AE Weis. 2008. The Resurrection Initiative: storing ancestral genotypes to capture evolution in action. BioScience 58: 870-873.

    Franks, SJ and AE Weis. 2008. A change in climate causes rapid evolution of multiple life-history traits and their interactions in an annual plant. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 21: 1321-1334.

    Franks, SJ, PD Pratt, FA Dray, and EL Simms. 2007. No evolution of increased competitive ability or decreased allocation to defense in Melaleuca quinquenervia since release from natural enemies. Biological Invasions 10: 455-466.

    Franks, SJ, S Sim, and AE Weis. 2007. Rapid evolution of flowering time by annual plant in response to a climate fluctuation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 104: 1278-1282.

    Franks, SJ, AM Kral, and PD Pratt. 2006. Herbivory by introduced insects reduces growth and survival of Melaleuca quinquenervia seedlings. Environmental Entomology 35: 366-372.

    Weis, AE and SJ Franks. 2006. Herbivory tolerance and coevolution: an alternative to the arms race? New Phytologist 170: 423-425.

    Center, TD, TK Van, FA Dray, SJ Franks, MT Rebelo, PD Pratt, and MB Rayamajhi. 2005. Herbivory alters competitive interactions between two invasive aquatic plants. Biological Control 33: 173-185.

    Franks, SJ, PD Pratt, FA Dray, and EL Simms. 2004. Selection for resistance in invasive plants. Weed Technology 18: 1486-1489.

    Franks, SJ, CL Richards, E Gonzales, J Cousins, and JL Hamrick. 2004. Multi-scale genetic analysis of Uniola paniculata L.: a coastal species with a fragmented linear distribution. American Journal of Botany 91(9): 1345-1351.

    Franks, SJ. 2003. Facilitation in multiple life-history stages: evidence for nucleated succession in coastal dunes. Plant Ecology 168(1): 1-11.

    Franks, SJ and CJ Peterson. 2003. Burial disturbance leads to facilitation among coastal dune plants. Plant Ecology 168(1): 13-21.

    Franks, SJ. 2003. Competitive and facilitative interactions among two species of coastal dune perennials. Canadian Journal of Botany 81(4): 330-337.

    Books and Book Contributions

    Franks, SJ. 2013. Rapid evolution of an annual plant in response to climate change. Invited 'guest box' in Allendorf, F. Conservation Genetics. Wiley-Blackwell.