- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Claudio Gratton, associate professor in the Department of Entomology, University of Wisconsin, will speak on “Sustainable Bioenergy Landscapes: Can We Balance Our Need for Production and Biodiversity?” at a UC Davis Department of Entomology seminar on Wednesday, April 10.
His seminar will take place from 12:05 to 1 p.m. in Room 1022 of the Life Sciences Addition, corner of Hutchison and Kleiber Hall drives. Katharina Ullmann of the Neal Williams lab is the host. The seminar is scheduled to be recorded for later viewing on UCTV.
“Increasing demands for food, and now fuel, have put pressure on our agricultural lands,” Gratton says. “Land use and land cover are continuing to change the way we manage our lands with significant biological and ecosystem-level consequences.”
“The ‘simplification’ of the agricultural landscape, that is the removal of natural and semi-natural areas in the landscape and the increase in monocultures of annual crops, is typically associated with a decrease in species richness and increases in crop pest abundance,” he said. “These effects go beyond mere aesthetics. The consequences of landscape simplification are felt by growers who apply more pesticides in landscapes dominated by annual cropland. The question then, is can we balance our needs for agricultural production (both food and fuel) in a way that supports other ecosystem services on which we as humans depend?”
“I argue that understanding the relationships between landscape structure and the tradeoffs between ecosystem services will be a key a designing ‘custom’ multifunctional landscapes.”
Gratton, who has a bachelor of science degree in biology from the University of Illinois (1991) and a doctorate in entomology from UC Berkeley (1997), joined the University of Wisconsin faculty in 2003. His research group works broadly in the field of landscape ecology in both agricultural and natural systems. In Wisconsin agriculture, he has been interested in understanding how beneficial insects, such as pollinators and lady beetles, utilize the landscape and carry out important functions such as pollination of crops and suppression of insect pests.
His work in agroecology has included studying insect landscape ecology and conservation in potatoes, rotational grazing, grasslands, soybeans, cranberries and apples.
Gratton has worked with growers to understand how to best manage non-crop “natural” areas in the landscape in order to enhance and conserve beneficial insects. He is also an active member of the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center as part of the team looking at developing sustainable bioenergy crops. He teaches courses in insect biological control, multivariate analysis and coastal field ecology.