- View All
- January 1, 2009 - December 31, 2009
has contribution area
has academic priority
has USDA Area
impact statement impact
- None yet.
impact statement issue
- In total, plants and insect herbivores comprise about one half of the earth's macroscopic biodiversity and herbivory accounts for major losses in agriculture. Given that herbivory is the conduit through which most of plants' autotrophic energy (i.e., generated by sunlight, water, and CO2) is transmitted to the rest of the food chain, the focus on plant-herbivore interactions is justifiably important. We are essentially studying why some plants are attacked by insects and ways that might reduce this attack. This work is needed to advance both our basic understanding of the ecology and evolution of species interactions, and to develop novel ways to manipulate such interactions in pest control.
impact statement response
- In sum, our lab group publishes 5-10 peer review papers per year in international journals. In addition, we are involved in outreach activities through the Cornell Institute for Biology Teachers (CIBT). We have set up some massive experiments close to campus, including replicated deer exclosure plots to study the impact of deer grazing on plant successional dynamics in the post agrciultural landscapes (which dominates New York). This project focuses on plant dynamics, especially the success of invasive species, but collaborators are also examining soil seed banks, nutrient cycling, and underground microbes. The aquatic cousin of this project is an experiment to look at the impact of geese grazing on the success of aquatic invasive plants conducted at the Cornell experimental ponds. In addition, we have installed major experiments to study the community ecology of insect interactions on the two common native milkweed species. This work is being funded by the BBI initiative, a National Science Foundation Career grant, and start-up funds.
impact statement summary
- We are studying the patterns of attack by a community of insect herbivores on plants; the work involves field biology, chemical ecology, genetics, and entomology. Our basic research involves milkweed plants, nearly 120 species from North America (and 20 from South America), which grow in various habitats and are attacked by a specialized community of insects. Some of the work is evolutionary in terms of quantifying phylogenetic patterns associated with the evolution of specialization (in insects parasites) and other work is more ecological, based on community interactions. Our applied work considers two major issues: why invasive plant species are successful, and the impact of genetic diversity in plant communities on ecosystem stability. Here again, we take a community and evolutionary approach. Finally, we are working on the insect and disease pests of potato, and attempting to develop novel means of pest control by manipulating the plants' own defense systems. In sum, we are motivated by studying the interactions between plants and their pests and strongly believe in the synergy between basic and applied work. My lab group freely moves between study systems, from tropical rainforest to local agroecosystems. We are also committed to integrative studies that combine techniques from ecological genetics, chemistry, and field biology.
Other federal funding
- National Science Foundation
- DiTommaso, Antonio Researcher
- Duke University Partner (Duke University)
- Fishbein, Mark Researcher
- Goodale, Christine L Researcher
- Johnson, Marc Researcher
- Klironomos, John Researcher
- MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY Partner (Michigan State University)
- Maron, John Researcher
- Portland State University; Oregon Partner (Portland State University)
- Thaler, Jennifer S. Researcher
- University of Guelph; Canada Partner (University of Guelph)
- University of Montana Partner (University of Montana)
- Both Basic Research and Applied Research
- Agrawal, Anurag Cornell Faculty Member