College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences

Charles B. Fenster

Charles Fenster



Office Phone: 301.405.1640
Fax: 301.314.9358
Office Address: 3233 Bio-Psych


BSCI 370 Evolution

BEES 708E  Evolutionary Genetics

Graduate Program Affiliations

  • BISI - BISI-Behavior, Ecology, Evolution, & Systematics (BEES)

Research Interests

My work is broadly conceptually driven, focused on the elucidation of evolutionary process, using plants as model organisms. Because of the broad perspective of my research, I use a combination of approaches incorporating statistical, ecological, quantitative genetic and molecular marker based techniques to address the questions of my research program. While some of my work reflects greenhouse or laboratory based studies, for the most part my studies are conducted in the wild, where the connection between genotype and fitness, as mediated by natural selection can be quantified. Although much of my research focus is quantifying the input of genetic variation into the evolutionary process, albeit studied in the context of natural selection, there are many interesting details of natural selection that are relatively unknown, that if understood would provide much greater insight into the underpinnings of the evolutionary process. To examine the details of natural selection, I use flowers as models of adaptation. While the intellectual focus of the lab is on understanding fundamental issues of evolutionary biology, our work also provides insight for important concerns in conservation genetics and invasive species biology. I begin by summarizing ongoing projects and finish with a description of past projects, and questions that remain from those completed projects.

Recent Publications

  • Fenster, C. B., W. S. Armbruster, P. Wilson, J. D. Thomson and M. R. Dudash. 2004. Pollination Syndromes and Floral Specialization. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics, 35: 375-403.
  • Stenøien, H. K., C. B. Fenster, A. Tonteri and O. Savolainen. 2005. High genetic variability in natural populations of Arabidopsis thaliana from Northern Europe. Molecular Ecology, 14:137-148.
  • Kephart S., R. J. Reynolds, M. T. Rutter, C. B. Fenster, and M. R. Dudash. 2006. Pollination and seed predati on by moths on Silene and allied Caryophyllous species: A model system to study the evolution of mutualisms. New Phytologist, 169:667-680.
  • Erickson , D. E. and C. B. Fenster. 2006. Intraspecific hybridization and the recovery of fitness in the native legume Chamaecrista fasciculata. Evolution, 60: 225-233.
  • Fenster, C. B., G. Cheely**, R. J. Reynolds and M. R. Dudash. 2006. Nectar Reward and Advertisement in Hummingbird-Pollinated Silene virginica, (Caryophyllaceae). American Journal of Botany, 93: 1800-1807.
  • Huang, S.-Q. and C. B. Fenster. 2007 Absence of long-tongued pollinators for long corolla- tube Himalayan Pedicularis species: implications for the evolution of corolla length. International Journal of Plant Sciences, 168: 315-331.
  • Fenster, C. B. and S. M. Rodriguez. 2007. Pollination specialization and the evolution of reproductive assurance mechansisms through autonomous selfing. International Journal of Plant Sciences, 93: 1800-1807.
  • Rutter, M. T. and C. B. Fenster. 2007. Testing for adaptation to climate in Arabidopsis thaliana: A calibrated common garden approach. Annals of Botany, 99: 529-536.
  • Reynolds, R. J., and C. B. Fenster. 2008. Simulating point and interval estimates of pollinator importance: a study using pollination data of Silene caroliniana. Oecologia, 156: 325-332.
  • Marten-Rodriguez, S., and C. B. Fenster. 2008 Pollination ecology and breeding systems of five Gesneria species from Puerto Rico. Annals of Botany, 103: 23-30.


Ph.D., University of Chicago, 1988. Plant evolution biology; mating systems; epistasis.