Brigitte Tenhumberg
Brigitte Tenhumberg
Associate Professor

Ph.D. University of Göttingen, 1992
Dipl. Ing. University of Hannover, 1988
Contact Information
412 Manter Hall


Research Interests

The interaction between a consumer and its resource is the fundamental building block of community structure; understanding the nature of this interaction is essential to almost every aspect of community ecology. As a consequence, substantial theory exists for consumer resource interactions, and there is a large body of empirical research documenting significant impacts of consumers on vital rates of the resource. One of the latest challenges is to bridge empirical and theoretical research by constructing mathematical models that are tailored to specific systems. These models can synthesize a large body of empirical data, incorporating key life history strategies, to quantify the effect of consumers on resource growth rates, as well as aid management of both consumer and resource. My research synergistically combines theoretical and empirical work on consumer-resource interactions. I am providing modeling expertise when collaborating with empirical scientists and ecological expertise when collaborating with mathematicians. The majority of my work focuses on insect-plant systems to address these questions in basic and applied ecology.

My work spans four broad areas of inquiry:

(1)     Quantifying biological drivers of plant and insect population dynamics:
I use stage structured population models to identify key factors shaping population dynamics.

(2)     Optimal decisions in behavior and life history:
I use mathematical models predicting ultimate causes for the evolution of specific phenotypes.

(3)     Transient dynamics:
Traditional models focus on long term (stable) dynamics, and ignore the often dramatically different transient dynamics that happen before the system stabilizes. Recently there is an increasing recognition that frequent disturbances like fire or drought prevent populations in many systems from reaching stable dynamics.

(4)        Population management:
My research evaluates alternative perturbation methods for stage structured population models; perturbation analysis is the corner stone for identifying which life history stage should be targeted to most effectively reach ones management goal. 


Recent Publications


Haridas, C.V., Eager, E. A., Rebarber, R., and Tenhumberg, B. Frequency-dependent population dynamics: Effect of sex ratio and mating system on the elasticity of population growth rate, Theoretical Population Biology, in press.

Haridas, C.V., Keehler, K. H., and Tenhumberg, B.: Variation in the local population dynamics of the short-lived Opuntia macrorhiza (Cactaceae), Ecology, in press.

Eager, E. A., Rebarber. R., Tenhumberg, B.: Modeling and analysis of a density-dependent stochastic integral projection model for a disturbance specialist plant and its seed bank, Bulletin of Mathematical Biology, in press

Guiver, C., Logemann, H., Rebarber, R., Bill, A., Tenhumberg, B., Hodgson, D., and Townley, S. (2014) Integral control for population management, Journal of Mathematical Biology, in press.

Prendeville, H.R., Tenhumberg, B., and Pilson, D. (2014): Effects of virus on plant fecundity and population dynamics, New Phytologist 202, 1346-1356.

Eckberg, J.O., Louda, S.M., and Tenhumberg, B. (2014): Native insect herbivory limits population growth rate of a non-native thistle, Oecologia 175, 129-138, selected for F1000Prime.

Purandare, S.R, Tenhumberg, B., and Brisson, J. (2014): Comparison of the wing polyphenic response of pea aphids (Acyrthosiphon pisum) to crowding and predator cues, Ecological Entomology, 39, 263-266.  

Siegfried, B. D., Rangasamy, M., Wang, H., Spencer,T.,  Haridas, C.V., Tenhumberg, B., Sumerford, D. V., and Storer, N. P. (2014): Estimating the frequency of Cry1F resistance in field populations of the European Corn Borer (Lepidoptera: Crambidae), Pest Management Science, DOI: 10.1002/ps.3662.

Eager, E., Rebarber, R., and Tenhumberg, B. (2014): Global asymptotic stability of plant-seed bank models, Journal of Mathematical Biology, 1-37.


Eager, E. A., Herbert M., Hellwig, E., Hernadez, F., Rebarber, R., Tenhumberg, B., and Wigiantio, B. (2013)  Global Attracting Equilibria for Coupled Systems with Ceiling Density Dependence, International Journal of Difference Equations 8, 179-193.

Eager, E., Haridas, C.V., Pilson, D., Rebarber, R., and Tenhumberg, B. (2013): Disturbance frequency and vertical distribution of seeds affect long-term population dynamics: a mechanistic seed bank model, The American Naturalist, 182, 180-190.

Hinkelman, T. M., and Tenhumberg, B. (2013): Larval performance and consumption of Hippodamia convergens on Aphis fabae and Acyrthosiphon pisum, Journal of Insect Science, 13, Article 46 (

Haridas, C. V., Prendeville, H. R., Pilson, D., Tenhumberg, B. (2013): Response of population size to changing vital rates in random environments, Theoretical Ecology 6, 21-29

Ledder, G., and Tenhumberg, B. (2013): Creating an interdisciplinary research course in mathematical ecology, in: Undergraduate mathematics for the life sciences: models, processes, and directions, In: G. Ledder, J. P. Carpenter, and T. D. Comar (eds), Undergraduate mathematics for the life sciences: processes, models, and directions, Mathematical Association of America (MAA) Notes series, 81, p. 133-138.

Ledder, G., and Tenhumberg, B., and Adams, T.G (2013): An interdisciplinary research course in theoretical ecology for young undergraduates, in: Undergraduate mathematics for the life sciences: processes, models, and directions, In: G. Ledder, J. P. Carpenter, and T. D. Comar (eds), Undergraduate mathematics for the life sciences: models, processes, and directions, Mathematical Association of America (MAA) Notes series, 81, p. 69-82.


Eckberg, J.O., Tenhumberg, B., and Louda, S.M. (2012): Insect herbivory and propagule pressure influence Cirsium vulgare invasiveness across the landscape, Ecology, 93, 1787-1764.

Purandare, S. R., and Tenhumberg, B. (2012): Influence of aphid honeydew on the foraging behavior of Hippodamia convergens larvae (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae), Ecological Entomology 37, 184-192.

Rebarber, R., Tenhumberg, B. and Townley, S. (2012): Global asymptotic stability of density dependent integral projection models, Theoretical Population Biology 81, 81-87.

Townley, S., Rebarber, R., and Tenhumberg, B. (2012): A feedback control systems analysis of density dependent population dynamics, Systems & Control Letters 61,309-315.

Eager, E.A., Rebarber, R., and Tenhumberg, B. (2012): Choice of density-dependent seedling recruitment function affects predicted transient dynamics: A case study with Platte thistle, Theoretical Ecology, 5, 387–401.


Louda, S. M., Rand, T. A., Kula A. A. R., Arnett A. E., West, N., and Tenhumberg, B. (2011): Priority resource access mediates competitive intensity between an invasive weevil and native floral herbivores, Biological Invasions 13, 2233-2248.

Keeler, K. and Tenhumberg, B. (2011): Population dynamics of the western prickly pear, Opuntia macrorhiza (Cactaceae), Southwestern Naturalist 56(2), 147–153. 


Miller, TEX and Tenhumberg, B. (2010): Contributions of demography and dispersal parameters to the spatial spread of a stage-structured insect invasion, Ecological Applications 20, 620-633.

Briggs, J., Dabbs, K., Holm, M., Lubben, J., Rebarber, B., Tenhumberg, B., Riser-Espinoza, D. (in press): Structured Population Dynamics: An Introduction to Integral Modeling, Mathematics Magazine 83(4), 243-257.

Tenhumberg, B. (2010): Ignoring population structure can lead to erroneous predictions of population size. Nature Education Knowledge 1 (10): 2.


Lubben, J., Boeckner, D., Rebarber, R., Townley, S. and Tenhumberg, B. (2009): Parameterizing the growth-decline boundary for uncertain population projection models Journal of Theoretical Biology 75, 85-97.

Tenhumberg, B., Tyre, A.J., and Rebarber, R. (2009): Model complexity affects predicted transient population dynamics following a dispersal event: A case study with Acyrthosiphon pisum. Ecology 90, 1878-1890.