Unfortunately, those ant encounters neither cement good relationships with the family of ants, Formicidae, nor the world's family of ant researchers, known as myrmecologists.
“All myrmecologists are united by stories of meeting people and having them ask what they should do to get rid of the ants,” says ant specialist Brendon Boudinot, a doctoral student in Phil Ward's Department of Entomology and Nematology lab, University of California, Davis.
Boudinot, who recently won a first-place President's Award for his presentation on “Revising Our Vision of Ant Biodiversity: Male Ants of the New World” at the 2014 Entomological Society of America meeting in Portland, Ore., is passionate about ants, particularly male ants.
Like the late Rodney Dangerfield who proclaimed “I don't get no respect,” male ants get little respect or attention, said Boudinot, who aims to raise public awareness of their importance and demystify them through his scientific research.
“There are about 12,800 living species of ants described to date,” explained Boudinot, who enrolled in the UC Davis doctoral program after receiving his bachelor's degree at Evergreen State College, Olympia, Wash., in 2012. “Males are known for only 27 percent of these species, and no identification resource exists for identifying male ants for most bioregions.”
Addressing this concern, he provided the first male-based identification keys to subfamily and genus level for the New World. The keys cover 13 of the 16 subfamilies and 151 of the 324 genera. This, coupled with a global male-based key to all 16 ant subfamilies he submitted in November, will enable male ants to be identified by genus in the New World---encompassing North, Central, and South America---for the first time.
Boudinot's first research publication, “The Male Genitalia of Ants: Musculature, Homology, and Functional Morphology (Hymenoptera: Aculeata: Formicidae),” conducted as an undergraduate, appeared in the January 2013 volume of The Journal of Hymenoptera Research). Subsequently, he guest-blogged about the research for Alex Wild's Myrmecos column. Wild, now with the University of Texas, holds a doctorate in entomology from UC Davis and is an alumnus of the Phil Ward lab.
As for telling the difference between a male and a female ant, that's not easy, even for many ant researchers, Boudinot acknowledged. “Males and reproductive females, queens, usually have wings and look different from workers. Males are usually differentiated from females by having slightly different morphology. Besides having complex and strange genitalia, male ants also tend to have one more antennal segment, larger eyes, and in general look more ‘waspy.' "
The genitalia of male ants are fascinating, he said. “Think of a Leatherman or Swiss Army knife which has paired muscular claspers, graspers, and sawblades. Male ants have evolved winglessness and worker-like morphology at least five times in the ants, which has historically led to the accidental description of these wingless males as new species. This is a weird phenomenon which I will be focusing on for a chapter of my dissertation. Why have they evolved winglessness? What are the evolutionary patterns of skeletomuscular reduction? Are there trade-offs for a colony when they lose the ability to produce dispersing males? Anyway, this should be fun.”
In addition to the United States, Boudinot has studied ants in four Latin American countries: Costa Rica, Honduras, Panama, and Brazil. “Ant-wise, my colleagues and I have collected numerous new species,” he said. A surprising example is a new species of Aphaenogaster he collected in 2010 in the foothills of Mt. Diablo, outside of Danville. He discovered it in a cow pasture less than 100 feet from suburban sprawl in a densely populated part of the state. On a recent trip to Brazil, he discovered the male of the martian ant (Martialis heureka) which is remarkable, as the martian ant is arguably the earliest branching lineage of living ants and yields important implications about the evolution of ants.
Boudinot looks forward to more ant collecting trips, especially to Brazil. “I really liked visiting Brazil because I had to teach myself Portuguese, had a tiny budget, was traveling alone, met awesome people, and visited some great places,” he recalled. “I worked in museums in São Paulo, Curitiba (in the South East), and Manaus in the Amazon basin. I got to see the Amazon river and rainforest (and ants), discovered some important things for my dissertation, and spent time with amazing people!”
Boudinot became enthralled with ants while volunteering as an undergraduate for a major research project, Leaf Litter Arthropods of Mesoamerica (LLAMA). “Initially I was saddled with the job of sorting and curating hundreds of samples which contained thousands and thousands of ants, but later I became involved in the field expedition to Honduras and independent research,” he said. “In one day I ended up individually counting over 8,000 specimens; at this point I forgot why my mentor made me count them. I was drawn to ants by their spectacular form and variation; every third genus of ants has some bizarre modification of the mandibles, or some weird structure on their body which is mysterious and in many cases simply unexplained. It took me a long time to become familiar with ants, but eventually I developed expertise in male ants, which very few people study.”
Why should people get interested in ants? “Ants are incredibly diverse social animals, with over 12,800 species and many more to be described,” the UC Davis myrmecologist said. “Their biology is spectacular; for example, their diet ranges from granivory and predation to agriculture. Ants invented agriculture about 55 million years before humans evolved, refining their agricultural practices to a remarkable degree at least 20 million years ago. (These are the famous leaf cutter ants and their relatives, see Wikipedia for some more information about them.) Ants are known to be agriculturally important in various parts of the world, are used in food dishes in Latin America and Southeast Asia, and are a critical system for studying sociality and numerous evolutionary and ecological questions.”
Boudinot noted that the inaccurate portrayals of ants in Hollywood movies lead to lifelong misinterpretations. “There is a perception that there are two kinds of ants: red ants and black ants--and sometimes yellow ants--and that the workers of ants include both sexes, as in the Disney movies A Bug's Life and Antz,” Boudinot said. “Really, ants are incredibly diverse---which is why I am fascinated with them in part.”
Reproductory misinformation abounds in “A Bug's Life,” the 1998 American computer-animated comedy adventure film, Boudinot said. All worker ants are female and sterile, but Princess Atta marries a male, Flik. “Flik and Princess Atta wouldn't have married, and if they did, Flik wouldn't be the dad as chances are she, as a worker, would be able to lay only unfertilized eggs which would become clonal males.”
If there's one thing that Boudinot wants youngsters of today to know about ants, it's this: “There are remarkable things to discover everywhere, and unanswered questions abound. Discovery is borne out of observation, and there is so much to observe in any single square meter of Earth's surface. I like ants in this respect because they are everywhere! In tropical rainforests ants and termites (another group of social insects) may make up to one-third of the total animal biomass, dwarfing that of vertebrates such as panthers, birds, and amphibians. There are about 90 species of ants in Sonoma, Napa, Yolo, and Sacramento counties alone, including fungus-cultivating ants!”
Boudinot encourages people to check out AntWeb.org. “This website is a digital database of thousands and thousands of species of ants, many of which look like they are extraterrestrials or are strange beasts out of nightmares,” he said, adding “Okay, and some of which are just fluffy and adorable.”
Ants and honey bees, which belong to the same order, Hymenoptera, are more similar than once believed. “In 2013 scientists discovered that ants are more closely related to bees and bee-like wasps than to yellowjackets and other wasps,” Boudinot said. “Our knowledge of this relationship is so new that we haven't even had time to reevaluate their physical similarity.”
“Ants are terrestrial, with a suite of adaptations for walking, while bees are highly efficient flyers. Bees are much more diverse than most people believe. In addition to the honey bee, there are about 20,000 described species of bees, not all of which are highly social like the honey bee! Unlike bees, there are no known non-social species of ants.”
“Bees are critical pollinators; ants are really poor pollinators. Ants are really good at protecting plants, though. Tight ant-plant mutualism has evolved several times, with the plants providing homes and food for ants while the ants provide protection for the plants from insect and vertebrate herbivores as well as competitor plants.”
After receiving his doctorate in entomology, Boudinot aspires “to be a professor so that I may continue to do research and to fulfill my love of teaching and mentoring.”
In the meantime, “I am just trying to learn as many valuable skills as I can while feeding my burning fascination with ants and insects in general. I have gained so much in terms of learning how to see and think about the natural world. Above all, I want to communicate this knowledge to people in whatever manner I can.”
“There is a logic to the biological universe,” Boudinot said, “and once you start to pick up this logic, interpreting the complex tapestry of life becomes a routine and deeply enjoyable task.”
(Editor's Note: More information on the ant images above: These are all males of the subfamily Leptanillinaea. This plate appears in Brendon Boudinot's manuscript, "Contributions to the Knowledge of Formicidae (Hymenoptera, Aculeata, Formicidae): A New Diagnosis of the Family, the First Global Male-Based Key to Subfamilies, and a Treatment of Early Branching Lineages" which he submitted to the European Journal of Taxonomy in November. "They have highly variably and spectacular morphology, and are extremely poorly known," he said. "Some of these males are so highly modified that they violate the diagnosis of the Formicidae." The genera: A, B, and D are Protanilla; C is a Leptanilla; E is Scyphodon; and F is Noonilla.)
Hammock joins two other UC Davis scientists in the 170-member Class of 2014 fellows:
- Kyriacos A. Athanasiou, department chair and distinguished professor of biomedical engineering, and the Child Family Professor of Engineering, who holds a joint appointment in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery
- M. Saif Islam, professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and co-director of the Center for Nano and Micro Manufacturing, or CNM2
The new fellows will be inducted March 20 at the NAI's fourth annual conference, to be held at the California Institute of Technology (Cal Tech) Tech, Pasadena. The Deputy U.S. Commissioner for Patent Operations, from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), will preside. The fellows will be presented with a special trophy, medal and rosette pin.
Hammock has made major innovations in multiple fields. Most recently his laboratory found potent enzyme inhibitors that dramatically reduce inflammation, inflammatory pain and neuropathic pain. He is the founder and CEO of EicOsis, and through EicOsis, the compounds are in clinical trials for companion animals and the Pre-Investigational tional New Drug Application (Pre-IND) Consultation Program for neuropathic pain in human diabetics. Hammock is developing both enzyme inhibitors and natural products as drugs for use in the United States and developing countries. In agriculture, his laboratory developed the first recombinant viruses as greeninsecticides, while in environmental chemistry, they pioneered the use of immunodiagnostics for environmental analysis and biosensor development, currently applying alpaca nanobodies to sensor technology.
Hammock is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, a fellow of the Entomological Society of America, and the recipient of the Bernard B. Brodie Award in Drug Metabolism, sponsored by the America Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. He directs the campuswide Superfund Research Program, National Institutes of Health Biotechnology Training Program, and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Combined Anayltical Laboratory.
A member of the UC Davis faculty since 1980, he received his bachelor of science degree magna cum laude from Louisiana State University in entomology and chemistry, and his doctorate from UC Berkeley in entomology and toxicology, working in xenobiotic metabolism.
Hammock was co-nominated by NAI member Glenn Prestwich of the University of Utah who spent a sabbatical year in entomology at UC Davis. The NAI also recognizes mentoring young scientists in entrepreneurship, an area where Hammock has been very active.
Hammock describes himself as a basic scientist who “sometimes fines something interesting.” He attributes his success to “having wonderful colleagues and students.” He also describes himself as “an avid, if incompetent hiker and climber,” and occasionally teaches white-water kayaking with UC Davis Outdoor Adventures.
NAI was founded in 2010. The total number of NAI fellows is now 414. They represent more than 150 prestigious research universities and governmental and non-profit research institutions.
Included among all of the NAI Fellows are 61 presidents and senior leadership of research universities and non-profit research institutes, 208 members of the other National Academies, 21 inductees of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, 16 recipients of the U.S. National Medal of Technology and Innovation, 10 recipients of the U.S. National Medal of Science, 21 Nobel Laureates, 11 Lemelson-MIT prize recipients, 107 Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and 62 fellows of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, among other awards and distinctions.
Academic inventors and innovators elected to the rank of NAI fellow were nominated by their peers for outstanding contributions to innovation in areas such as patents and licensing, innovative discovery and technology, significant impact on society, and support and enhancement of innovation.
In a news release, NAI officials said that election as an NAI fellow “is a high honor bestowed upon academic innovators and inventors who have demonstrated a prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions and innovations that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development, and the welfare of society.”
Athanasious studies the healing processes of cartilage, and works to augment them via the application of tissue engineering principles. “Our approach entails the use of biodegradable scaffolds designed to incorporate suitable bioactive agents and signals to regenerate cartilage,” his website states. He is the recipient of the Marshal Urist Award for Excellence in Tissue Regeneration Research, the Thomas A. Edison Patent Award and a number of innovation awards.
Islam's research focuses on ultrafast optoelectric devices, molecular electronics, and the integration of semiconductor nanostructures in devices for imaging, sensing, computing and energy conversion. He holds 37 U.S. patents. He is the co-founder of Atocera, the co-founder of Atocera, a start-up that plans to bring its silicon surgical and razor blades to market as a less expensive alternative to ceramic and diamond blades. Atocera is housed in the College of Engineering's incubator — officially known as the Engineering Translational Technology Center.
Chancellor Katehi was elected to NIA in 2012. She holds 19 U.S. patents and was recognized her work as an electrical engineer whose cell phone, radar and antenna circuits are used in signal transmitting, receiving and processing.
Jerry Woodall, distinguished professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, was elected in 2013.Woodall is a pioneer in the research and development of compound semiconductor materials and devices. He has collected 85 issued U.S. patents. He is best known for inventing the high-efficiency red LEDs used in remote control and data-link applications such as TV sets and IR LAN, and the super-bright LEDs used in CD players and short link optical fiber communications. Fully half of the world's annual sales of compound semiconductor components have been made possible by his research legacy. Other projects include the “pseudomorphic” high electron mobility transistor (HEMT), a state-of-the-art, high-speed device used in cell phones and satellites; and the weight-efficient solar cell.
(UC Davis News Service contributed to this report.)
“To say that Dr. Mary Louise Flint has been key to the success of California agriculture is not a misstatement or exaggeration,” Borg told the attendees. “The greatest threats to California's agriculture are the myriad of introduced and native pests and diseases. Keeping agricultural pests and diseases at bay while preserving the environment by an informed, balanced and interdisciplinary approach, an approach that is a hallmark of UC Davis.”
Borg, who chaired the Meyer Award Committee and served as the emcee at the dinner, noted that Flint was part of the original team that established the UC IPM Program in 1980. Since then her passion and vision for ecologically based IPM has influenced almost every aspect of IPM in the state, he said.
Before introducing her, Borg said: “I want to put her work in the context that it deserves and to do that, we need to understand a little about the significance of California agriculture.”
“In 2012 California was the top agricultural state in cash receipts at $44.7 billion. Iowa was second at $31.9 billion. Using data from 2007, Paul F. Starrs and Peter Goin in their Field Guide to Agriculture (UC Press 2010) make the case, for $37 billion in cash receipts for California's crops represents an agricultural economy of between $200-$300 billion.”
Borg related that when he “first started as an agriculture librarian over 30 years ago, I was introduced to Mary Louise Flint's work in IPM.” He praised her legendary status in California agriculture, “especially with regard to the University of California's role in California agriculture.”
He read a portion of the nomination letter by Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, that said: “Her name is synonymous with IPM, pest control alternatives, and public service, not just in California and the United States, but worldwide.” Parrella also noted that Flint “has been heavily involved in the leadership, creativity and success of UC IPM Program since 1982 and is UC IPM's longest-tenured employee.”
The UC Davis entomologist traced her history with the organization. “I remember attending the California State Fair in the early 1980s and being somewhat horrified to find the UC Master Gardeners answering questions using the Ortho Problem Solver and the Rodale Guide to Organic Gardening,” she said. “I was told that they relied on these books because UC provided very little garden pest management information.” That helped motivate her to write “Pest of the Garden and Small Farm.” From there, she and her colleagues moved on to Pest Management Guidelines, Pest Notes, Quick Tips, UC IPM website, UC IPM kiosk, our YouTube channel, blog and Twitter.
Flint is the third entomologist (Frank Zalom, 2004, and Thomas Leigh, 1988) to receive the Academic Federation award, first presented in 1971.
West, majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology, works in the Chiu lab on the Spotted Wing Drosophila (Drosophila suzukii or SWD), a serious pest of fruit crops. In collaboration with scientists in the U.S. and around the world, including Frank Zalom, UC Davis professor of entomology, West is surveying populations of SWD using next-generation sequencing to determine the extent of possible insecticide resistance.
“By correlating her results to insecticide bioassay data, she can start to understand the mechanisms of developing resistance and use this information to help the agricultural industries manage SWD in a more sustainable manner,” said Chiu, an assistant professor.
A multidisciplinary committee of faculty and staff from the UC Davis World Food Center and the Undergraduate Research Center selected the recipients. The award winners received a $2500 stipend to support their research related to food security, health and sustainability. The UC Global Food Initiative “is a commitment to apply a laser focus on what UC can do as a public research university, in one of the most robust agricultural regions in the world, to take on one of the world's most pressing issues," said UC President Janet Napolitano.
West began working as an undergraduate research assistant in the Chiu lab in August 2013.
She was one of eight students among a pool of 50 selected to be a member of the Class of 2013, Research Scholars in insect Biology Program (RSIBP). The program was organized by UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology faculty members Jay Rosenheim, Louie Yang and Chiu to provide undergraduates with a closely-mentored research experience in biology. The program's goal is to provide academically strong and highly motivated undergraduates with a multi-year research experience that cultivates skills that will prepare them for a career in biological research and useful for students whose career goals will take them to medical school, veterinary school, or graduate programs in any biological sub-discipline.
Undergraduates can easily feel like they are lost in the crowd, and rarely get close mentorship from faculty or other research staff. Chiu noted. The RSIBP program fills that bill. “It is highly competitive and being selected is not an easy feat in itself,” she said.
West is also a member of the Biology Undergraduate Scholars Program and received the outstanding BUSP Freshman Award in the spring of 2013.
West grew up in the city of Shasta Lake and graduated as valedictorian of the Class of 2012, Central Valley High School. A first-generation college student, West has received a number of scholarships at UC Davis, including the Susie Voorhies Memorial Scholarship (2012-13), Provost's Undergraduate Fellowship (May 2014) and the Regents Scholarship (May 2014). She expects to graduate from UC Davis in 2016 and pursue a career in research.
In addition to studying animal circadian rhythms, the Chiu lab collaborates with the Zalom lab and with research groups at Oregon State University, Washington State University, North Carolina State University, University of Georgia, and Cornell University to develop pest management strategies to combat SWD. Most drosophila flies feed on spoiled fruits, but SWD prefers fresh fruit (berries and soft-skinned fruits). The national crop loss has been estimated at more than $700 million annually.
“As a result, to control pest population and reduce crop loss, growers now rely on preventive applications of broad-spectrum neuroactive insecticides,” Chiu explained. “The selection pressure for insecticide resistance is therefore extremely high and will likely lead to resistance development in SWD, which threatens the sustainability of these high value crops.”
“Our laboratory has already set up a large network of collaborators all over the world to support this project,” Chiu said. “Jessica regards this project as an opportunity to explore new research areas, while contributing to an urgent food crisis as the crop industries and growers all over the world are becoming gravely concerned. “
Research Scholars Program in Insect Biology
President's Global Food Initiative
Recipients of UC Global Food Initiative Awards
Spotted Wing Drosophila Project, based at Oregon State University
A team of entomology graduate students from the University of California, Davis, successfully argued at the Entomological Society of America's recent student debates that a ban on the insecticides in agriculture “will not improve pollinator health or restore populations, based on current science. Neonicotinoids are important for control of many significant agricultural and veterinary pests. Part of the solution is to develop better regulations that will protect the health of pollinators and retain the use of an important IPM tool.”
“Neonicotinoids are important for control of many significant agricultural and veterinary pests,” team captain Mohammad-Amir Aghaee said at the onset. “Part of the solution is to develop better regulations that will protect the health of pollinators and retain the use of an important IPM (integrated pest management) tool.” The team also argued successfully that neonicotinoids (also known as neonics) are not all “created equal.”
The insecticide, chemically similar to nicotine, is implicated in the mass die-off of pollinators. The European Union recently adopted a proposal to restrict the use of three pesticides belonging to the nenicotinoid family (clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiametoxam) for a period of two years. In addition, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that by January 2016, it will ban the use of seeds treated with neonicotinoid pesticides and the use of crops improved through biotechnology throughout the 150 million acres managed by the National Wildlife Refuge System.
ESA officials chose the debate topic and assigned UC Davis to debate the “con” side and Auburn University, the “pro” side. The Auburn team argued that neonicotinoids are causing the death of bees essential for pollinating our food crops, and that the use of neonicotinoids should end. The debates took place at ESA's 62nd annual meeting, held in Portland, Ore.
The Auburn roster included captain Olufemi Ajayi, Adekunle Adesanya, Julian Golec, Matt Burrows, Scott Clem and alternate Zi Ye. Associate professor David Held served as their advisor.
ESA sponsors the lively, cross-examination-style student debates as an educational and entertaining component of its annual meetings. The teams are given eight months to prepare. Team members must be enrolled in an entomology degree program (bachelor, masters or doctorate). Each debate spans 45 minutes and includes a seven-minute statement by each team; cross-examinations; rebuttals; and questions from the judges and audience.
- Pesticides are IMPORTANT tools used in modern agriculture
- Neonicotinoids were registered as reduced risk pesticide to replace the organophosphates, carbamates, and pyrethroids
- Banning neonicotinoids would increase of use of pesticides that have known non-target effects
The UC Davis team agreed that acute and chronic studies "have shown that neonics are toxic to honey bees and bumble bees (Blacquiere et al. 2012)" but argued that “all neonics are not created equal (Brown et al. 2014). They cited “inconsistent results with field-realistic doses (Cresswell et al. 2012)" and noted that “many other factors have been documented as contributing to pollinator decline (Epstein et al. 2012).”
It's not just insecticides that are killing bees, the UC Davis entomologists said. They listed the varroa mite (Varroa destructor), considered by U.S. beekeepers as Public Enemy No. 1; vectored pathogens, acaricides, antibiotics and fungicides directly added to the colony; pathogens such as American foulbrood and Nosema bombi; inadequate honey bee nutrition; insufficient food substitute: habitat fragmentation; land-use changes; and the increasing demand for pollination changes.
The UC Davis entomologists recommended that
- Regulatory agencies need to have more thorough registration guidelines that incorporate bee toxicity data for all pesticides (Hopwood et al. 2012). This would encompass chronic toxicity, sublethal effects and synergistic effects.
- Better management practices be mandated that follow IPM principles that protect bees on crops (Epstein et al. 2012). This would include banning certain application strategies, using less toxic neonicotinoids, and encompass the essential education and communication.
In its summary statement, the UC Davis team said: “There is NO definitive scientific evidence that neonicotinoids are the primary cause of pollinator declines. Neonicotinoids are important reduced risk pesticides for management of some of our most damaging pests. Neonicotinoids should be better regulated, not banned." They concluded: “Given the current state of knowledge, banning neonicotinoids is a premature and disproportionate response to a complex issue. This requires holistic scientific inquiry and interpretation, and cooperation among stakeholders. Any changes must be based on science rather than opinion, current trends, or fear.”
The Auburn team, or the pro-team, opened the debate with “Neonicotinoids are causing the death of bees essential for pollinating our food crops. The use of neonicotinoids should end.”
Why? They outlined six key points:
- Critical time for pollinators in the United States
- Lethal and sub-lethal effects
- Prevalence and exposure
- Effects on other pollinators
- Food Quality and Protection Act (FQPA) as a precedent
Expanding on the fact that this is “a critical time for pollinators in the United States,” the Auburn team pointed out:
- Honey bees pollinate $15-20 billion worth of crops in the U.S., and $200 billion worldwide
- Approximately $3 billion worth of crop pollination services are provided by native bees
- Colony Collapse Disorder likely has many contributing factors but many of those are enhanced by neonicotinoids
- The declining honey bee population: the U.S. had 6 million bee colonies in 1947 and now it's down to 2.5 million
The Auburn team keyed in on lethal and sublethal effects of neonics: synergistic interactions with other pesticides, including DMI (demethylation inhibitor) fungicides; increased susceptibility to pathogens (Nosema spp.); decrease in foraging success; decrease in overwintering queen survival; learning impairment consequences; and reproductive inhibition.
The Alabama-based team also called attention to prevalence and exposure to neonicotinoids. They discussed the neonicotinoid residues found on bee-pollinated crops and plants by various means of exposure: seed coating; foliar spray, soil drench, trunk injections; length of residue (soil vs. foliage and length of bee exposure); and single exposures resulting in season-long impacts. They also said the multiple means of exposure due to application can lead to multiple routes of exposure within bees: via pollen, nectar, guttation fluid and extrafloral nectaries.
In addition, the Auburn entomologists argued that new and novel modes of action and classes of insecticides are emerging. leading to alternative options, and that the banning of neonics in agriculture won't destroy agriculture. They also discussed the restriction of organophosphate use with the adoption of FQPA in 1996. If neonics were banned, they said, this could open the door “for stronger and more reliable risk assessment” and potentially, "the adoption of integrated pest management (IPM) tactics."
In their concluding statement, the Auburn team said that current tools for risk assessment may not be adequate; and that limiting neonicotinoid use will not harm agriculture--"it will open the door for more sustainable agriculture and new insecticides." They emphasized that we must save our pollinators, especially in the United States. "The United States is a special case--globally there is an increase in bee colonies; however, the United States is at a critical point at which bee pollination services are being threatened irreversibly."
One of the several swaying arguments that led to UC Davis winning the debate was that not all neonics are created equal, and thus, they should not all be lumped together as "an equal" and all be banned.
The UC Davis team received a $500 cash award, a plaque and a perpetual trophy engraved with UC Davis. ESA president Frank Zalom, a distinguished professor and IPM specialist in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, presented the awards. UC Davis team consultants included Extension apiculturist (emeritus) Eric Mussen and Extension entomologist Larry Godfrey, both of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology; and Dave Fujino, director of the California Center for Urban Horticulture at UC Davis.
Mussen, who retired in June after 38 years of service, met periodically with the UC Davis team at its practices. He is frequently asked if neonics are the primary cause of CCD. "Neonics are only one of the classes of pesticide residues that we frequently find in analyses of adult bees, beeswax and stored pollens," he says. "We encounter CCD in colonies in which no neonicotinoid residues can be found, and we find colonies surviving year after year with measurable residues of neonicotinoids in the hives. Obviously, neonicotinoids do not appear to be "'the primary' cause of CCD."
Prior to the meeting, each team submitted a draft summary of its position (600 words maximum), and no more than 15 references, to the Student Affairs Committee Chair. After the meeting, each team can revise its manuscript before it is submitted for publication to the ESA journal, American Entomologist.
UC Davis Team Practicing for Student Debate