So says Scott McArt, an assistant professor in the Cornell University's Department of Entomology, who will speak on "Pesticide Risk to Pollinators: What We Know and What We Need to Know Better" at the Wednesday, May 4 virtual seminar hosted by the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
The seminar begins at 4:10 p.m. The Zoom link:
McArt, who joined the Cornell faculty in 2017, focuses his research on pollinator health and ecology. His areas of expertise include disease ecology, ecotoxicology, community ecology, chemical ecology, and plant-pollinator interactions. He maintains his lab research site at https://blogs.cornell.edu/mcartlab/.
"Research in our lab focuses on the impact of pesticides, pathogens, and habitat on honey bees and wild bees," he writes on his website. "We are particularly interested in scientific research that can inform management decisions by beekeepers, growers and the public. Current research projects include: 1) Understanding pesticide exposure and risk to bees in multiple land management contexts, 2) Combining empirical data with network modeling to understand pathogen transmission in complex plant-pollinator networks, and 3) Understanding how habitat enhancements (e.g., flowers at solar power sites) impact pollinator populations and the services they provide to agriculture."
McArt's duties at Cornell also include director of the Cornell Chemical Ecology Core Facility, and associate curator of the Cornell University Insect Collection.
He writes a monthly column, Notes from the Lab, in American Bee Journal; each month he summarizes scientific publications for a non-scientific audience. "The goal is to make the emerging pollinator health science more approachable and relevant to beekeepers," he says.
He is also a member of the New York State (NYS) Beekeeper Tech Team, which works directly with NYS beekeepers to improve honey bee health, reduce colony losses, and increase profitability of the state's beekeeping industry: https://pollinator.cals.cornell.edu/nys-beekeeper-tech-team/
In addition, McArt coordinates such beekeeping workshops as "Introduction to Honey Bee Queen Rearing" and "Honey Bee Biology and Disease Management for Veterinarians" and engages with growers regarding pesticide risk to bees and creating pollinator-friendly habitat. His extension materials are onsite.
When asked "What gets you out of bed in the morning?" during a new faculty interview, he responded "Most of the factors contributing to declines in bee health (pesticide exposure, lack of floral resources, disease, inadequate management practices) are preventable. With targeted research efforts and educated stakeholders, regulatory agencies and public, we can make a difference."
McArt holds a bachelor of arts degree in environmental and evolutionary biology (2001) from Dartmouth College, Hanover, N.H., and a master's degree in biological sciences (2006) from the University of Alaska, Anchorage. He received his doctorate in entomology in 2012 from Cornell University. He served as a USDA-NIFA (National Institute of Food and Agriculture) postdoctoral fellow at the University of Massachusetts, Amhurst, in 2014, and then as a research scientist at Cornell from 2014 to 2017, before joining the Cornell faculty.
Nematologist Shahid Siddique, assistant professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, is coordinating the spring seminars. For Zoom technical issues, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And she'll be conveying that passion and her passion for science when she presents a UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology online seminar on Wednesday, May 19.
Postdoctoral researcher Manuela Ramalho of the Corrie Moreau lab, Cornell University, will speak on "Exploring Connections among Microbial Community, Ecology and Phylogenetic History of Ants" from 4:10 to 5 p.m. UC Davis insect ecologist Marshall McNunn is serving as the host. Access the seminar through this Zoom link.
"Symbiotic interactions shape animal evolution and govern patterns of biodiversity," Ramalho writes in her abstract. "Using ants as a study model, my research focuses on unraveling the role of host ecology, diet, behavior, stage of development, and phylogeny on symbiotic interactions."
Ramalho, a cell and molecular biologist from Brazil, joined the Moreau lab in January 2019. She holds three degrees from Universidade Estadual Paulista Júlio de Mesquita Filho (UNESP): a bachelor's degree (2010), master's degree (2013) and doctorate (2017). Her doctoral thesis: "Ants' Microbiome with Emphasis in Camponotini (Hymenoptera, Formicidae."
Experienced in the areas of microbiome, genetics, genomics, and more specifically molecular biology, Ramalho focuses her research on "understanding the mechanisms that impact microbial communities, unraveling the role of ecology, diet, behavior, stage of development, and also phylogeny of the host in these symbiotic interactions," she writes on her website. "To better understand these mechanisms, I use ants as a study model. In several ant genera, symbiotic interactions with microbial communities have been shown to have profound impacts on the host. But more than that, ants can be found across the globe and have an immense diversity of behaviors and ecology. Also, ants are fascinating."
"Talking and spreading science has always been a passion for me, but our daily lives have shown that being engaged in these activities is crucial for a scientist. I am a Brazilian, a woman/parent in science, and a myrmecologist who uses ants as a way to engage people with science. Diverse audiences and of all ages have some curiosity about these small insects that occur all over the world in the most diverse colors and shapes. We just need to be creative in how to attract this audience!"
She is a subject editor of Myrmecological News and recently reviewed a publication y UC Davis alumnus Andrea Lucky, titled “Myrmecology, Gender, and Geography: Changing Demographics of a Research Community Over Thirty Years." Lucky, an assistant professor at the University of Florida, received her doctorate in 2010 from UC Davis, studying with Phil Ward.
Ramalho co-authored "Attractivity or Repellence: Relation Between the Endophytic Fungi of Acalypha, Colocasia and the Leaf-Cutting Ants--Atta sexdens," published in April 2021 in Advances in Entomology.
Other recent publications include:
Ramalho, M.O., Kim, Z.; Wang, S.; Moreau, C. S.: "Wolbachia across Social Insects: Patterns and Implications." Annals of the Entomological Society of America, 2021.
Ramalho, M.O.; Moreau, C.S.: "The Evolution and Biogeography of Wolbachia in Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)." Diversity, 12, 426. 2020.
Caruzo, M.B.R.; Ramalho, M.O.; Philipp, J.; Bragagnolo, C.: "Maternity, Science, and Pandemic: an Urgent Call for Action!" Hoehnea, 47: e812020. 2020.
Cooperative Extension specialist Ian Grettenberger coordinates the spring seminars, which take place every Wednesday at 4:10 p.m. He may be reached at email@example.com for any technical issues.
It's one of the highest honors a scientist can receive. Members are elected to NAS in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.
Agrawal received his doctorate in population biology in 1999 from UC Davis, working with major professor Richard "Rick" Karban, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
"Anurag is an inspiration as a scientist and as a person," Karban said. "I've learned a lot from him."
At Cornell, Agrawal is the James A. Perkins Professor of Environmental Studies in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He researches the ecology and evolution of interactions between wild plants and their insect pests, including aspects of community interactions, chemical ecology, coevolution and the life cycle of the monarch butterfly.
Agrawal is the author of the celebrated book, Monarchs and Milkweed: A Migrating Butterfly, a Poisonous Plant, and Their Remarkable Story of Coevolution, published in 2017 by Princeton University Press. The book won a 2017 National Outdoor Book Award in Nature and Environment and an award of excellence in gardening and gardens from the Council of Botanical and Horticultural Libraries. It was also named one of Forbes.com's 10 best biology books of 2017. Read a review of his Monarchs and Milkweed book from the journal Ecology and read the first chapter here. (You can order the book here.)
As Agrawal said in a Cornell news release, “It's a tremendous honor and totally unexpected. I look forward to representing Cornell and also playing a part in the NAS role of advising the U.S. government on science policy.”
"A key research focus for Agrawal's Phytophagy Lab is the generally antagonistic interactions between plants and insect herbivores," according to the Cornell news release. In an attempt to understand the complexity of communitywide interactions, questions include: What ecological factors allow the coexistence of similar species? And what evolutionary factors led to the diversification of species? Agrawal's group is currently focused on three major projects: the community and evolutionary ecology of plant-herbivore relationships; factors that make non-native plants successful invaders; and novel opportunities for pest management of potatoes. Recent work on toxin sequestration in monarch butterflies was featured on the cover of the April 20 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences."
Agrawal holds two degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, a bachelor's degree in biology and a master's degree in conservation biology. He joined the Cornell faculty in 2004 as an assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, with a joint appointment in the Department of Entomology. He advanced to associate professor in 2005, and to full professor in 2010. He was named the James A. Perkins Professor of Environmental Studies in 2017.
A fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2012), and recipient of the American Society of Naturalist's E.O. Wilson Award in 2019, Agrawal won the Entomological Society of America's 2013 Founders' Memorial Award and delivered the lecture on Dame Miriam Rothschild (1908-2005) at ESA's 61st annual meeting, held in Austin, Texas.
Agrawal was at UC Davis in January of 2012 to present a seminar on "Evolutionary Ecology of Plant Defenses." His abstract: "In order to address coevolutionary interactions between milkweeds and their root feeding four-eyed beetles, I will present data on reciprocity, fitness tradeoffs, specialization and the genetics of adaptation. In addition to wonderful natural history, this work sheds light on long-standing theory about how antagonistic interactions proceed in ecological and evolutionary time."
Members are elected to NAS in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. Among those previously elected to NAS: Bruce Hammock, UC Davis distinguished professor of entomology who holds a joint appointment with the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center. He was elected to NAS in 1999.
Chemical ecologist Andre Kessler, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Cornell University, will discuss "Chemical Information Driving Plant Interactions and Community Dynamics" at the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology's virtual seminar, set from 4:10 to 5 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 9.
"Andre is one of the most exciting and innovative researchers working on plant defenses against herbivores," said ecologist and seminar host Richard 'Rick' Karban, professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. "There are a limited number of people whose work is so exciting that I make certain to read anything they write, as soon as it comes out. Andre is one of those people who has truly pushed our field forward."
To attend, access this form for the direct link.
"As sessile organisms, plants have to adjust their metabolism to ever-changing environmental conditions in order to stay in place and successfully reproduce," Kessler says in his abstract. "Thereby plants orchestrate interactions with other organisms (e.g. other plants, herbivores, pathogens, predators etc.) by providing cues or signals to whoever can read them. The seemingly universal language used to manipulate those interactions is chemical. This presentation reviews some of the Kessler Lab research on the ecological functionality and environmental context-dependency of chemical information transfer in the charismatic Northeastern goldenrod plants, Solidago altissima."
As a chemical ecologist, his research focuses on the mechanisms, ecological consequences and the evolution of plant induced responses to herbivore damage.
"Conceptually, I study plant secondary metabolism as a vehicle of information transfer," he writes on his website. "Chemical information can mediate complex interactions from the molecular and cell to the whole plant and community level. As a consequence, my research includes studying chemical elicitation of plant responses, plant chemistry-mediated alterations in insect population and community dynamics, plant-plant communication, plant-pollinator interactions and plant defense mechanisms against herbivores. In my lab we use chemical and molecular tools in manipulative field and laboratory experiments to understand the mechanism of elicitation, signal transduction and information-mediating secondary metabolite production in plants responding to biotic and abiotic environmental stresses."
"Moreover, we put a particular emphasis on studying the ecological functions and evolution of plant metabolic responses and chemical information transfer in the plants' native habitats. With more recent projects my group tries to apply some of the chemical ecology principles found in native systems to control insect pests in agricultural systems. My research includes a number of different study systems in New York, Utah, Peru, Costa Rica, Colombia and Kenya."
Professor Kessler received his master's degree from the University of Würzbug, Germany, where he studied ecology, genetics and geobotany. He earned his doctorate from the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology and University of Jena, Germany.
Professor Karban, who will introduce his colleague and monitor the questions-and-answer session, is the author of the landmark book, Plant Sensing and Communication (University of Chicago Press), described as “the first comprehensive overview of what is known about how plants perceive their environments, communicate those perceptions, and learn" (Graeme Ruxton of the University of St. Andrews, UK, co-author of Experimental Design for the Life Sciences and Plant-Animal Communication.)
Cooperative Extension specialist Ian Grettenberg, assistant professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, is coordinating the seminars. For any technical issues, contact Grettenberger at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Generations of Insect Attacks Drive Plants to 'Talk' Publicly (The Scientist, March 1, 2020)
- Plants Use a Common 'Language' for Emergency Alerts (Cornell Chronicle, Oct. 2, 2019)
We plant three species of milkweed (the host plant for the monarchs), but both the monarchs and the honey bees gravitate toward A. curassavica, a non-native. So do syrphid flies, carpenter bees, bumble bees, leafcutter bees and assorted other insects.
If you haven't heard, planting tropical milkweed is controversial. Scientific research shows that it disrupts the monarch migration patterns when it's planted outside its tropical range, and can lead to the spreading of OE, orophryocystiselektroscirrha, a protozoan parasite that infects monarch and queen butterflies. (See Exposure to Non-Native Tropical Milkweed Promotes Reproductive Development in Migratory Monarch Butterflies, published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, Md. Also see the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation website on the issue.)
UC Davis alumnus and monarch expert Anurag Agrawal of Cornell University, the James A. Perkins Professor of Environmental Studies at Cornell University and the author of the celebrated book, Monarchs and Milkweed: A Migrating Butterfly, a Poisonous Plant, and their Remarkable Story of Coevolution (2017 Princeton University), knows the controversy well.
"Tropical milkweed is an interesting and complex issue," he recently told us. "I love the plant for various reasons, but there is growing evidence that as it has become weedy (and self-seeding) in the southeastern United States and California. It is affecting monarchs, mostly by disrupting their migration. The key issue here is that when it is flowering 'out of season' this can be 'confusing' to monarchs. Having said this, we don't live in a pristine world, so my position is that we need moderation in the approach to tropical milkweed. It is certainly an easy plant to grow and monarchs can make good use of it during the caterpillar season. If you love the plant, go for it, but I would recommend cutting in back before the migratory season starts."
Three Milkweed Species
We offer monarchs a choice of milkweed species in our Vacaville pollinator garden. In addition to the non-native A. curassavica, we plant two native species: narrowleaf milkweed, A. fascicularis, and showy milkweed, A. speciosa. In July, we collected 11 caterpillars from the narrowleaf milkweed; we rear them to adulthood and release them into the neighborhood. But in the numbers game, the tropical milkweed won. From July through today, we have collected a whopping 43 eggs or caterpillars from A. curassavica. How many from A. speciosa? Sadly, none.
As recommended, we cut back or remove the tropical milkweed before the migratory season. In the meantime, we grow it for three reasons: (1) for the monarchs (2) as a food source for other insects and (3) as an ornamental garden plant. We like the brilliant colors and the diversity of insects it attracts.
On one afternoon in late July, we photographed foraging honey bees on the spectacular blossoms. They just couldn't get enough of it.