Beyond the honeybee: How many bee species does a meadow need for pollination and ecosystem health? Way more than previously known according to a new study by UMD Ento's postdoctoral associate Michael Roswell. Follow link to read full AGNR article, https://go.umd.edu/qD2
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[Seminar Blog] Exploring the Role of Sunflower Pollen in Mediating Disease in the Common Eastern Bumblebee
The Entomological Society of America's Eastern Branch Early Career Award recognizes early professionals who have made outstanding contributions to entomology, shown commitment to extension or outreach, and excelled in entomological education. Congratulations to Dr. Karin Burghardt, the recipient of this year's award!
Dr. Karin Burghardt is an Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist in the Department of Entomology at the University of Maryland College Park. Trained as a community ecologist, she specializes in understanding plant-insect interactions in human-modified landscapes ranging from suburban yards to abandoned agricultural fields to managed forests. Her research and extension program helps determine best practices for how humans can share space with a variety of flora and fauna.
In April, Karin will be honored at the Eastern Branch Meeting in Philadelphia and entered for consideration for the Society–level award given at ESA's Annual Meeting. Congratulations again on the well-deserved recognition Dr. Burghardt!
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[Seminar blog] The role of interaction networks in describing plant-pollinator interactions and predicting vulnerability to environmental change
written by: Kathleen Evans
While there remains more to learn about the functional role that biodiversity plays in agroecosystems, it is evident that high-diversity ecosystems promote important ecosystem services such as decomposition and nutrient cycling, pollination, and biotic pest control (Tscharntke et. al. 2005). Biodiversity is thought to provide ecosystem stability and resilience to disturbance, but such evidence is scarce. Significant losses in biodiversity occurred during the post-war era when agriculture practices transformed from traditional to modern and rapid agriculture intensification practices created more homogeneous and simplified landscapes (Tscharntke et. al. 2005; Vandermeer 1997). Unfortunately, there is still a knowledge gap in our understanding of how changes in land-use and simplification have altered the local and regional ecological processes, community structure and ecosystem services. Interaction networks enable us to understand how ecological communities assemble and function and is a useful tool for measuring changes in the stability and resilience of ecological communities. Dr. Adam Vanbergen, Director of Research (écologie des insectes) UMR Agroécologie in Dijon, France, studies interspecific interaction networks (e.g. plant- pollinator) and ecosystem services (e.g. pollination) and how they are affected by environmental change and kindly shared his work with the UMD Entomology Department at our weekly seminar series.
[Seminar Blog] “One should make one’s life a mosaic. Let the general design be good, the colors lively, and the materials diversified.” – Marthe Bibesco
written by: Eva Perry and Jonna Sanders
Dr. Joe Hanly’s research on speciation genomics in Colias Butterflies (sulphurs) of North America is the very embodiment of this phrase, through his investigation of wing patterns in the evolution and diversity of these butterflies. A post-doctoral researcher at George Washington University, Dr. Hanly’s research for the past several years has focused on understanding the relationship between genotypes to phenotypes, or rather, how specific genomes, through the processes of development and evolutionary selection, lead to specific phenotype expressions in wing patterns in Colias butterflies.
When Krisztina Christmon, PhD Student, vanEngelsdorp Lab, finds time away from studying host-parasite-pathogen interaction of honeybees she can be found working out ways to clean up and recycle agricultural plastics.
“Plastic films and tubing are essential for farming but at the end of the season most of these materials end up in landfills, burnt in the field, or buried in the soil,” explained Christmon. “The safer alternative would be to recycle them; however the recycling infrastructure of the U.S. is not equipped to handle many farm plastics.”
Read more in Momentum Winter 2022 edition
Tune into Bug Talk for honest reflections from scientist Dr. Megan Fritz on starting a family while pursuing a #STEM career. This semester Megan connected with her alma mater Michigan State University, Department of Entomology. While there she chatted with Bug Talk's Zsofia about her path to entomology, her choice to start a family in graduate school, raising children while completing her Ph.D. and the supportive environment that MSU cultivated for female students with children.
Check out Bug Talk's podcast to listen to full Fritz episode: https://www.buzzsprout.com/911479/10162569
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Big round of applause to the 11 undergrad minors and researchers who made it on the Fall 2021 CMNS Dean's List! Congrats Sejal Sinha, Jenan El-Hifnawi, Aaron Chan, Sankara Ganesh, Jane Quackenbush, Helen Craig, Shane Windsor, Colette Lord, Matthew Nikzad, Jenica Liu and Arthur Young on completing your classes with flying colors !
(& apologies if we missed anyone)
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A team of UME educators received more than $200,000 from U.S. Department of Agriculture NIFA to increase access to education in environmentally sustainable methods of managing pests in both urban and rural communities.
“We have specialists who will be addressing the different aspects of the diversity in agriculture and natural resources,” said Anahí Espíndola, assistant professor of entomology and lead investigator on the grant that will support this IPM work throughout 2022. “Every group on this team provides meaningful Extension programs – meaningful to their community’s needs.” Read more about their work: https://extension.umd.edu/news-events/news/integrated-pest-management-diverse-state?fbclid=IwAR33bmtd3JXgBoWwAKmnuSEVhdH22Qa9OGz66t1GLMoIStTixJp2xzLn5F8
Dr. Jeff Shultz, quoted in The New York Times commenting on a recent publication out in Molecular Biology and Evolution that suggest rather than occupying their own individual lineage, horseshoe crabs are in the same family as arachnids.
Quote: “Personally, I think it is an interesting finding,” said Jeffrey Shultz, a professor of entomology at the University of Maryland who studies arachnid evolution, “but experience shows that results can change when the same data are analyzed by different workers, when new data are added to the mix or when new insights into genomic evolution come to light.”
Link to article here: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/18/science/horseshoe-crabs-arachnids.html?action=click&module=Well&pgtype=Homepage§ion=Science
[Seminar Blog] Tiny wasps to the rescue: investigating biological control of the brown marmorated stink bug and emerald ash borer
written by: Max Ferlauto and Madeline Potter
Most tiny insects go unnoticed, yet tiny insects can greatly impact humans and our ecosystems. Dr. Nicole Quinn has spent the past five years researching how to utilize particularly tiny insects, known as parasitic wasps, to help manage invasive insect pests (non-native species that cause harm). The invasive pests Dr. Quinn focused on were the brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys) during her PhD research at Virginia Tech University, and the emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) during her postdoctoral research with USDA-ARS Beneficial Insects Introduction Research Unit and University of Massachusetts. Her research helps reveal and enhance methods to effectively control invasive insects.
Eriophyid mites, aka rust, gall and bud mites feed on all kinds of plants and have been estimated that there are close to a million species on the planet. Several species of eriophyid mites can cause stunting, curling and brown discoloration of leaves on host plants leading to millions of dollars in losses in production on grasses, ornamentals, forest and fruit trees. So what can farmers and other agricultural agents do to manage these mites? And can management be done sustainably?
Researchers from the University of Maryland Department of Entomology Professor Emeritus Galen Dively and MS student Maggie Hartman team up with USDA's Ron Ochoa to investigate a more sustainable strategy for mite management involving the integration of chemical control, host plant resistance, and cultural practices. Their study, "Population Dynamics of Eriophyid Mites and Evaluation of Different Management Practices on Timothy Grass" published this month in the Journal of Economic Entomology, is the first to demonstrate the relative effectiveness of alternative management practices that could reduce the need for chemical control of eriophyoid mites on timothy grass. Read the paper here>>.
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written by: Angela Saenz and Taís Ribeiro
Our identity and background shape how we work. This is not different in science. In their seminar for the University of Maryland Entomology department, Dr. Lauren Esposito gave a presentation entitled "Why Entomology Needs Queer Voices", sharing their story and how it has inspired them to work towards increasing diversity and inclusion in STEM.
The beautiful and abundant plant genus Calceolaria L. is one of most iconic Andean plant genera. However, its evolutionary relationships have remained evasive despite dozens of years of research. Further understanding of the evolutionary history of the group can hold the key to recognizing patterns of diversification across the world's largest mountain ranges, the Andes. Researchers Lauren Frankel (former researcher in the EspindoLab), Dr. Murúa and Dr. Espindola’s latest paper – published this week by the Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society – used chloroplastic genome analyses to help fill in the gap of Calceolaria’s evolutionary history. Through this approach they were able to resolve for the first time the backbone of the genus, identify two main clades that also display interesting pollination-relevant traits, and estimate a timing of diversification contemporaneous to major climatic and orogenic events. Check out paper here>>
Additional shout out to Lauren Frankel; this is her 1st first-authored paper, and to Anahi Espindola her proud UMD mentor. Fun fact, this is the same journal in which Anahi had her first first-author paper published!
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[Seminar Blog] Meet the bee relatives: What can phylogenies teach us about bee evolution and ecology?
written by: Taís Ribeiro and Darsy Smith
Have you ever thought about how scientists know how organisms are related? Similar to how humans can use family trees to know who are their relatives, scientists can study the relationship between groups of organisms by constructing phylogenetic trees. These phylogenetic trees are two-dimensional diagrams that can represent the evolution and diversification of a group of organisms (Figure 1). Phylogenetic trees can show what organisms are in the base (or the root) of a tree, and more closely related groups in closer branches. Phylogenetic relationships help us understand the diversity of species and address ecological and evolutionary questions. Traditionally phylogenies were constructed using morphological data – what organisms look like—but advances in molecular phylogenetics, first with a few genetic markers and now with phylogenomic studies that use hundreds of genes, have transformed our understanding of these biological questions.
[Seminar Blog] USDA Protects US Agriculture Using Sterilized and Genetically Engineered (GE) Insects
Written by: Krisztina Christmon and Veronica Yurchak
From its first use in the 1950’s through present day, scientists have been trying to manage insect pests using the sterile insect technique (SIT). Today, USDA ‘s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) - Plant Protection and Quarantine unit uses SIT as part of their Fruit Fly Exclusion and Detection Program, the goal of which is to protect US Agriculture from potentially invasive and damaging exotic fruit fly species. Dr. Corey Bazelet is responsible for coordinating this fruit fly program and presented her work as part of the University of Maryland’s Safeguarding American Agriculture seminar series.
Written by: Patrick McNamara and Jonna Sanders
Dr. Peter Kozmus is a zoologist, author, diplomat, and worldwide advocate for political action to protect honeybees, insects, and insect diversity. He is a leading figure at the world honeybee association, Apimondia, as well as among Europe’s Entomologists focused upon honeybee genetics. Since 2011, Dr. Kozmus has been the Director of the Republic of Slovenia’s Carniolan Bee Breeding program at the Slovenian Beekeeping Association, Čebelarska zveza Slovenije. This program strives to protect Apis mellifera carnica, the Carniolan bee, which is the indigenous honeybee subspecies in Slovenia. A graduate of the Biotechnical Fakulteta at Slovenia’s University of Ljubljana, his Doctoral research explored the morphological and molecular markers of bumblebees. In 2014, he joined the Slovenian Beekeeping Association, which is a honeybee industry advocacy center, a research institute, and a powerful political ecological voice in Slovenia. In 2017, Dr. Kozmus was elected to the position of Vice President of Apimondia.
Congratulations to Dr. Leslie Pick for being named a 2021 Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Dr. Pick is being recognized for her “distinguished contributions to the fields of evolutionary developmental biology (evo devo) and insect biology, particularly the role of Hox genes in embryogenesis and organismal diversification.”
In February, Leslie will be awarded at the AAAS Annual Meeting. Congratulations again on the well-deserved recognition Dr. Pick!
See full CMNS press release here>>
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Congratulations to Dr. Dan Gruner, recipient of the Entomological Society of America's Eastern Branch, Distinguished Achievement Award in Teaching! Dr. Gruner has a long teaching career with undergraduate courses in the Biological Sciences Program, graduate classes in Entomology, and mentoring student researchers. Currently he teaches “Principles of Ecology,” where he incorporates ecology-related projects that highlight environmental issues, encouraging students to document current events and work with real world data. In 2021 this course was praised by students and the college alike for offering “A Hole New Perspective on Brood X.”
In April, Dan will be honored at the Eastern Branch Meeting in Philadelphia and entered for consideration for the Society–level award given at ESA's Annual Meeting. Congratulations again on the well-deserved recognition Dr. Gruner!