Catherine A. Toft

Catherine Toft

Position Title
(In Memoriam) Professor Emerita

Department of Evolution and Ecology


Research Interests

Population biology of desert perennial shrubs and insects, including population structure and demography. Evolution of mating systems using several species of the bee-fly and wasp as model systems. Plant succession, using a demographic approach, on saline alkaline desert lakebeds. Conservation biology of parrots. Citizen science. Animal hoarding.

Grad Group Affiliations

  • Ecology
  • Population Biology

Specialties / Focus

  • Community Ecology
  • Evolutionary Ecology and Life History Strategies
  • Population Dynamics

Field Sites

  • Deserts of the southwestern U.S. including Mono Lake Basin, the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts; tropical rainforests in Peru and Panama


  • 1972 BS Fisheries Wildlife Biology Iowa State University
  • 1977 PhD Biology Princeton University


Toft CA and Elliott-Fisk DL. 2000. Patterns of vegetation along a spatiotemporal gradienton shoreline strands of a desert basin lake . Plant Ecology. :in press

Toft CA. 1995. A 10-year demographic study of rabbit brush (Chrysothamnus nauseosus): growth, survival, and water limitations. Oecologia. 101:1-12

Toft CA. 1989. Population structure and mating system of a desert bee fly (Lordotus pulchrissimus; Diptera: Bombyliidae). 2. Female demography, copulations, and characteristics of swarm sites.. Oikos. 54:359-369

Toft, C.A. and J.D. Gilardi, in press. Parrots of the Wild: A Natural History of the World’s Most Endangered Birds. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA.

Benard, R.B. and C.A. Toft. 2008. Fine-scale spatial heterogeneity and seed size determine early seedling survival in a desert perennial shrub (Ericameria nauseosa: Asteraceae). Plant Ecology 194:195-205.

Benard, R.B. and C.A. Toft. 2007. Effect of seed size on seedling performance in a long-lived desert perennial shrub (Ericameria nauseosa: Asteraceae). International Journal of Plant Sciences 186: 1027-1033.

McWilliams, S.R., T. Sloat, C.A. Toft, and D. Hatch. 2007. Effects of prescribed fall burning on a wetland plant community with implications for management of plants and herbivores. Western North American Naturalist 67:299-317.

Cook, L.F. and C.A. Toft. 2005. Dynamics of extinction: Population decline in the colonial Tricolored Blackbird Agelaius tricolor. Bird Conservation International 15:73-88.

Toft, C.A. and T. Fraizer. 2003. Stage-specific spatial dispersion and density dependence in a population of perennial desert shrub (Chrysothamnus nauseosus: Asteraceae). Ecological Monographs 75:605-624

Toft, C.A. and D.L. Elliott-Fisk. 2002. Patterns of vegetation along a spatiotemporal gradient on shoreline strands of a desert basin lake. Plant Ecology, 158: 21-39.

Wright, T.F., C.A. Toft , E. Enkerlin-Hoeflich, J. Gonzalez-Elizondo, M.Albornoz, A. Rodríguez-Ferraro, F.J. Rojas-Suárez, V. Sanz, A. Trujillo, S.R. Beissinger, V. Berovides A., X. Gálvez A., A. T. Brice, K. Joyner, J. Eberhard, J. Gilardi, S. E. Koenig, S. Stoleson, P. Martuscelli, J. M. Meyers, K. Renton, A. M. Rodríguez, A. C. Sosa-Asanza, F. Vilella, and J. W. Wiley. 2001. Nest poaching in Neotropical parrots. Conservation Biology 15:710-720.