So says global change ecologist Amanda Koltz, a senior scientist with the Department of Biology, Washington University, St. Louis, who will speak on "Species Interactions and Ecosystems in a Changing World" at the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology's virtual seminar Wednesday, Oct. 14.
The Zoom seminar begins at 4:10 and ends at 5. Koltz will field questions from the audience.
"Biological communities and species interactions are changing rapidly as a result of global change," she says in her abstract. "These changes are likely to have cascading effects on ecosystems, but we still have limited understanding of the extent to which organismal responses to global change may also drive ecosystem responses to it. In this talk, I will present some of my work on the potential feedbacks between global change, communities, and ecosystem functioning from two different study systems. First, I will discuss how warming can alter the cascading effects of spiders in the Arctic tundra, and then I will discuss my recent efforts at characterizing the potential consequences of shifting interactions among ruminant hosts and their parasites. The common theme throughout the talk will be the importance of considering species interactions in efforts to understand ecosystem responses to global change."
Koltz describes herself as a "global change ecologist interested in how species interactions influence community composition and ecosystem function in the context of environmental change. I use common, widespread organisms that are sensitive to change-- like wolf spiders, mosquitoes and gut worms--to better understand how the animals in our everyday lives impact the ecosystems we live in. My recent work focuses on two fundamental questions: (1) How do biological communities respond to changes in the environment? and (2) What are the consequences of changes in species interactions for the cycling of energy and nutrients within ecosystems?"
Cooperative Extension specialist and agricultural entomologist Ian Grettenberger, assistant professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, coordinates the fall series of virtual seminars. They are held on Wednesdays at 4:10 p.m.
Host for the Koltz seminar is Emily Meineke, assistant professor of urban landscape entomology, who researches insect-plant interactions. The two met when they were working on their doctorates: Koltz was at Duke University and Meineke at North Carolina State University. Their interests overlap.
Grettenberger announced that this is the form to obtain the zoom link:
Koltz's research has appeared in a number of recent publications:
- Small but Mighty: Measuring Parasites' Footprints
- Wolf Spiders May Turn to Cannibalism in a Warming Arctic
- Warming Alters Predator-Prey Interactions in the Arctic
- Bugged Out by Climate Change
- Higher Education Channel: Arctic Wolf Spider's Changing Diet May Help Keep Arctic Cool & Lessen Some Impact of Global Warming
It's not enough for entomologists to do research; they must also embrace and integrate technology, says agricultural entomologist Christian Nansen, an associate professor in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, who keynoted a virtual meeting of the 47th Congress of the Colombian Entomology Society, themed "Frontiers in Entomology."
Technology plays a crucial role in the development of insect science--and entomologists, their students and society must embrace it, said Nansen. He delivered his keynote address in three parts: Parts 1-3 and Final Thoughts. They are now available on his website (http://chrnansen.wix.com/nansen2) as YouTube videos.
"I argue that, in the near future, we as university professors may have to look beyond publication of results in a research article--that students and society will likely demand more from us," Nansen said. "We can embrace and integrate technologies into what we do to create educational platforms, which include exposure to technologies and therefore enable students to acquire highly 'marketable' career skill sets. We can integrate discussions about entrepreneurship into our research and education--demonstrate to funding bodies, colleagues, and students that we take development and adoption of science-driven solutions seriously."
In his three-part lecture, Nansen provides examples of his research and approaches to university education.
"The lecture," he explains, "describes three elements in my program: optical sensing to diagnose insects, smartphone app development, and use of insect mass-rearing to biodegrade waste streams. Applied research, technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship are the denominators tying these three elements together."
In addition to insect ecology and remote sensing, Nansen's research interests include integrated pest management, host plant stress detection, host selection by arthropods, pesticide performance, and use of reflectance-based imaging in a wide range of research applications.
The three-part lecture:
- Part One: Optical or Remote Sensing
- Part Two: Smartphone App Development and Pesticide Sprays
- Part Three: Breeding of Insects to Bioconverte Waste
- Final Thoughts
Born and educated in Denmark, Nansen received his master's degree in biology from the University of Copenhagen in 1995 and his doctorate in zoology from the Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University in Denmark in 2000. He accepted positions in Portugal, Benin, United States, UK and Australia before joining the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology in 2015 as an assistant professor. His international experience also includes being an international exchange student at the University of Lisbon, Portugal and a visiting professor at Northwest A&F University, Yangling, China.
For the first butterfly, it was the right place at the right time.
An alfalfa or sulfur butterfly (Colias eurytheme) fluttered into our pollinator garden in Vacaville to sip some nectar from a Mexican sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia). It lingered for several minutes.
But on another day, several miles away, an alfalfa butterfly wandered into a rural nursery, and splat! Nailed by a yellow sticky trap, which is used to lure, trap, monitor and detect insect pests.
Second butterfly: wrong place at the wrong time.
"There are four to seven generations per year of alfalfa caterpillar, and each generation is closely synchronized with the hay-cutting cycle so that the caterpillar pupates before cutting occurs," according to the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM) website. "Caterpillar populations usually result from a flight of butterflies into the field when the alfalfa is less than 6 inches tall. Extremely large numbers of adults migrating between fields are often present from June to September in the Central Valley and from May to October in the southern desert."
UC IPM points out that factors contributing to economically significant caterpillar numbers are:
- Slow and uneven growth of the crop
- Lack of natural enemies
- Hyperparasites (other parasitoid wasps attacking the natural enemy wasps reducing their numbers)
- Hot, dry weather.
Butterfly guru Art Shapiro, UC Davis distinguished professor of evolution and ecology, says 2020 proved to be a major outbreak year for the alfalfa butterfly in the Sacramento, Yolo and Solano counties. (See butterfly invasion in the Aug. 28, 2020 Bug Squad blog).
Ever seen one in a sticky trap? Often you'll see assorted--and tiny--flies, gnats, beetles, leafminers, psylids and the like. So a yellow butterfly in a yellow sticky trap really stands out.
Green Hall memorializes two outstanding scientists--Mel, a geneticist, and wife Kathleen, a biologist.
Melvin Green, who died Oct. 24, 2017 at age 101, was a UC Davis distinguished professor emeritus of molecular and cellular biology who co-founded the UC Davis Genetics Department (now part of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology). Kathleen, who died in 2002, was a UC Davis biologist and a longtime Davis City Council member--she was the first woman elected to serve on the council. A scholarship in her name honors women in science.
Selected the 1971 Davis Citizen of the Year, Kathleen served the community in a number of capacities, including charter member and president of the League of Women Voters in Davis, and a member of the the Sutter Davis Hospital Board of Directors.
During Mel Green's 60-year career, he was inducted into the National Academy of Sciences and received two Guggenheim fellowships. He inspired generations of students, faculty and staff.
We never met Kathleen, but we knew Mel as a brilliant scientist and a wonderful conversationalist, with a finely honed sense of humor. He was a frequent visitor in the halls and offices of the Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Leal and dozens of colleagues spearheaded a movement among the faculty to rename the building. UC Davis Chancellor Gary May approved the name.
"Not many know that Mel, who grew up in the Depression in a Jewish ghetto, became not only a first-generation college graduate in his family but also the first Jewish person to receive a Ph.D. in zoology and biochemistry from the University of Minnesota (1942)," Leal related. "Mel served in the U. S. Army during World War II, and then joined the UC Davis faculty in 1950. He worked until his nineties. During his lengthy and productive career, he made seminal discoveries concerning the nature of mutations using the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. In particular, Mel is known for his discovery of mobile DNA elements."
"Mel would stop by my office on a regular basis just to check on me, talk science, and sometimes to tell a nice joke. For example, in October 2004 he showed up early in the morning and told me: 'Walter, you are screwed!' I asked why and he told me 'Richard Axel and Linda Buck just got the Nobel Prize for their work on olfaction.' I had a good laugh.'"
Mel connected widely and often with UC Davis entomologists, including Bruce Hammock, Hugh Dingle, Lynn Kimsey and Robert Kimsey. Lynn, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and a professor of entomology, identified the insect taxonomy for Mel's article, "It Really Is Not a Fruit Fly," appearing in the Sept. 1, 2002 edition of the journal Genetics.
In the article, Green pointed out that the genus Drosophila includes more than 1000 species. He argued that all Drosophila species "should be referred to by their scientific, not their common name."
Mel wrote that "real fruit flies, e.g., the Mediterranean fruit fly, the Oriental fruit fly, and other members of the family Tephritidae, attack unblemished fruit and in heavy infestations cause serious economic damage. In contrast, even if present in enormous numbers, D. melanogaster is innocuous and of no economic importance."
But to a "layperson's unsophisticated eye," the insects hovering over a fruit bowl, evoke the term, evoke "fruit fly," not "vinegar fly," the geneticist wrote.
The UC Davis campus bursts with buildings named for outstanding faculty, including:
- Asmundson Hall, named for Professor Vigfus Asmundson
- Briggs Hall,named for Professor Fred N. Briggs
- Everson Hall: Professor Gladys Everson
- Hutchison Hall: Professor Claude B. Hutchison
- Kleiber Hall: Professor Max Kleiber
- Bainer Hall: Professor Roy Bainer
And now, the list includes Green Hall, a fitting tribute to the careers of Melvin and Kathleen Green. (See UC Davis news story)
The recent wildfire that roared through rural Vacaville, reaching the outer edges of the city, seared the souls of the victims but what's happening now is warming their hearts.
A Vacaville-based artist and philanthropist has turned a catastrophe into creativity: she is creating paintings as a way to provide financial assistance to the fire victims.
Shortly after the August fire, Lisa Rico founded the Vacaville Fire Art Project and recruited 10 fellow artists to join her team. Already they have raised $13,000 of the $20,000 goal. Every single dollar goes to the fire victims.
Their themes include pigs, ducks, cows, chickens, goats, donkeys, horses, rabbits, birds, bees and butterflies. The fire injured or killed many of their subjects. Clay Ford of Clay's Bees (Pleasants Valley Honey Company), Caroline Yelle of Pope Canyon Bees, and her business partner, Rick Schubert are among those who lost most of their bees.
Lisa describes the project on her Facebook page: "An art project to benefit locals affected from the recent LNU fire. Hundreds of homes and farms were destroyed. I will paint one painting a day selling them for $300 each. All proceeds will go to the fire victims. A few of my art colleagues have offered to help as well."
Lisa likes the "immediacy of the medium and richness of the color possibilities." She especially enjoys painting the "faces of people from other cultures and countries" and "local flora and fauna." Her husband, Richard, former editor and publisher of The Reporter, Vacaville, and himself an artist, is a contributor to the Vacaville Fire Art Project.
The couple evacuated from their home as the fire threatened their neighborhood. Sadly, friends lost their homes in Pleasants Valley, Gates Canyon and beyond.
Unknown to many, for the past three years Lisa has challenged herself to "paint one a day" every September. This year the deadly fire turned her commitment to philanthropy. She has created 25 paintings--or one a day--of the 50 pieces submitted in the Vacaville Fire Art Project.
Prospective buyers can access the Facebook page to see and purchase a painting. The artists usually announce beforehand what day or time they will post an image of their work, and the price. It's first-come, first-served. Some are sold within minutes.
Since this is a bug blog, we're sharing some of the amazing insect art that Rico created. One a day...every day...for the past 25 days...
(Note: See the Facebook page for the other incredible art. You'll love those adorable farm animals!)