Crop domestication, global human-mediated migration, and the unresolved role of geography in pest control

One of the major assumptions of sustainable agriculture is that studying the ecology of insect pests in agroecosystems should lead to improved ecologically-based pest management. In the majority of studies, the geographic origin of the plants and insects are rarely considered. As a result, there has been little discussion as to whether species origins influence the success of pest control.

In this new commentary, I discuss how geography structures the evolution of insect as pests, and how this may influence the success of ecologically-based pest control approaches. I propose that further advances in developing ecologically-based management may come by developing a line of questioning that acknowledges both agricultural history and geography.

The article is freely available from Elementa: Science of the AnthropoceneFig. 1 final-RGB_small

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Celebrating student research at the UVM Student Research Conference

One of our undergraduate lab members, Sam Zuckerman, will be presenting the results of his research today at the UVM Student Research Conference (SRC). Although his presentation may be only 15 minutes long, each slide represents hours of learning, lab and field work, and data analysis. Sam has been a valuable member of our lab group, working behind the scenes to help maintain our swede midge colony and tackling important issues in swede midge management. Today Sam presents the results of his work with swede midge, titled “Developing damage and action thresholds for swede midge–an invasive pest of brassicas.”

Sam successfully defended his undergraduate thesis last week. Congratulations, Sam! As part of Sam’s research, he developed an economic threshold for swede midge, which allows for growers to make informed management decisions based on field population levels.

IMGP4678           SamSRC (1)



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Andrei Alyokhin is featured in IPM Insights

Our collaborator, Andrei Alyokohin of University of Maine, was featured in IPM Insights, a publication from the Northeastern IPM Center. Capture

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Ross wins the Public Research Impact Award from UVM

Ross Pilischer just  received the Public Research Impact Award from the Office of Undergraduate Research at UVM for his work on swede midge. Ross is studying whether exogenous soil amendments can induce resistance to swede midge.

Congratulations Ross!

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Collecting species associated with wild and cultivated chili in Papantla, Veracruz



As part of my project with Angelica Cibrain, I traveled with Dr. Salvador Montes (INIFAP) and his assistant Lupita Fernandez to Veracruz to collect insects and microbiomes associated with wild and cultivated chili and squash. Our trip happened to make it into the local news….

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