- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Research entomologist William Meikle of the Carl Hayden Bee Research Center, Agricultural Research Center, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA-ARS) will speak on "Using Continuous Monitoring to Measure Colony-Level Behavior in Social Insects: A Case Study with Honey Bees" when he visits the University of California, Davis, on Wednesday, March 15.
His seminar, open to all interested persons, will take place from 4:10 to 5 p.m. in 122 Briggs Hall, Kleiber Hall Drive.
Meikle, who joined the Carl Hayden Bee Research Center in 2012, conducts research on continuous monitoring of weight, temperature, humidity, CO2 concentration, and other parameters in honey bee colonies, linking those data with bee colony growth and activity. "I am currently involved in investigating how various stressors, including disease incidence, nutritional stress and agrochemical exposure manifest themselves at the colony level," he says.
"Individuals are the fundamental units of the social insect colony and are thus logical subjects for the study of those colonies," Meikle explains in his abstract. "However, such colonies also exhibit emergent properties or behaviors, such as forager traffic and brood nest temperature control in this case honey bee colonies, that can only be measured using colonies or groups of bees."
"Honey bee colonies offer singular opportunities for study because they can be taken apart with little or no adverse effects, and because they are typically stationary and so can easily be fitted with sensors or placed permanently on electronic scales. The resulting continuous sensor data, such as the weight and temperature data we have focused on, provides information on colony behavior and on how colonies respond to changes in the environment. The idea is that once we know how to interpret continuous data, we can then collect continuous data as response variables in manipulative experiments."
Meikle says much of the work "has focused on collecting such data to monitor behavior of honey bee colonies subjected to sublethal concentrations of pesticides. Because colony behaviors depend on the proper functioning and coordination of many individuals, changes in those behaviors may emerge at lower pesticide concentrations than have been found to affect individual biology. Indeed, field and cage studies showed significant effects at pesticide concentrations as low as 5 ppb in sugar syrup."
Meikle received his bachelor's degree in biology from Pomona College, Claremont, in 1982, and his doctorate in entomology from UC Berkeley in 1992. His career took him from UC Berkeley to the West African country of Benin, then to France, then back to the United States--Texas and Arizona.
After earning his doctorate at UC Berkeley, Meikle served as a scientist and postdoctoral fellow from 1992 to 2001 at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Calavi, Benin, where he developed an ecological and economic framework of stored product systems in West Africa, including population models of important pests (larger grain beetle and maize weevil), natural enemies (including insects and insect pathogens), sequential sampling plans and scouting programs for farmers, and links of pest population dynamics to weather and to local commodity prices.
Two other positions followed:
- 2001-2009: European Biological Control Laboratory, USDA-ARS, Montferrier-sur-Lez, France, where he researched the use of entomopathogens, such as fungi and nematodes, as biological control agents against different pests, including locusts, termites and Varroa mites of honey bees. "We collected naturally occurring entomopathogenic fungi of Varroa mites, including a new species, and evaluated biopesticide formulations," he related.
- 2009-2012: Honey Bee Research Unit, Kika de la Garza Subtropical Agricultural Research Center, USDA-ARS, Weslaco, Texas, where he explored the ecology and population dynamics of small hive beetles, a recently introduced pest of honey bees in the U.S. "I collaborated with other researchers in investigating the biological control of the Asian citrus psyllid and the larger black flour beetle."
Meikle's seminar, hosted by the UC Davis Department of Entomoogy and Nematology, is the last seminar of the winter quarter. Agricultural entomologist Christian Nansen (email@example.com), assistant professor in the department, coordinates the seminars. They are recorded for later viewing on UCTV.