Miridae, a company founded and owned by UC Davis-trained ecologist Billy Krimmel, won the highly competitive 2020 Award of Excellence for Communication from the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) for its Seed Bank Living Wall at DPR Construction, Sacramento.
The ASLA awards, judged by a jury of professionals, honor the best in landscape architecture from around the globe. ASLA celebrated the winners at its conference, held Oct. 2-5 in Miami Beach, Fla.
A number of nationally known landscape architecture firms competed for the award “which is some nice icing on the cake!” commented Krimmel, who founded the company in 2015, a year after receiving his doctorate in ecology from UC Davis.
Miridae, led by UC Davis and Stanford graduates, is a diverse and interdisciplinary team of ecologists, landscape architects and builders.
California Native Species
The seed bank, using California native species, challenges the concept of a typical ‘living wall' by highlighting dormant seeds as living plants instead of the leaves and stems normally associated with living plants, Krimmel said.
With a collaborative team of artists and fabricators, Krimmel and his team challenged the look and feel of the traditional “green” living wall and instead proposed a living wall of dormant plant seeds.
Krimmel describes the project as “a celebration of place,” specifically Sacramento's Central Valley. The project is located at DPR's midtown Sacramento location at 1801 J St.
“The dormant seeds in the wall, physically held within the roots of each highlighted plant species, may extend beyond the life of the building,” Miridae writes on its website. “It is a reserve for the future and a concept that challenges how we think about what an individual plant is and how we cohabitate with nature.”
The concept “arms our client, DPR Construction, with a new mission to support native habitat!” Krimmel said. DPR, founded in 1990, is a national technical builder that specializes in highly complex and sustainable projects. Its Sacramento headquarters are at the corner of 18th and J streets. DPR is named for its founders, Doug Woods, Peter Nosler and Ron Davidowski (the D, P and R).
Featured in Magazine and Website
Landscape Architecture Magazine spotlighted the Miridae project in a full-page spread in the print copy, and it is also featured on ASLA's website.
From the ASLA website: “Our project began with a call for a ‘living wall' from a prominent national construction company moving their regional headquarters to Downtown Sacramento. They wanted a living wall that was sustainable, provided a sense of location, and required little maintenance. We wanted to create something that motivated the company to use habitat-crucial native plants in their construction projects and that would highlight the beauty and the benefits of these often-overlooked species. Thus, we decided to pursue a different concept for this living wall, one we have titled, the Seed Bank. Challenging the design standard that highlights the leaves, stems, and flowers we typically associate with plants, the Seed Bank uses dormant, live seeds of important California native species to highlight the unseen elements of these plants and to organize them in a spatially-explicit way that ties the local species to their natural and potential distributions.”
The native plants used in the Seed Wall:
- Arroyo Lupine
- Purple Needlegrass
- California Poppy
- Narrow Leaf Milkweed
- Common Yarrow
- Hairy Evening Primrose
- Common Fiddleneck
- Bolander's Sunflower
- Turkey Mullein
- Common Madia
- Creeping Wild Rye
- Tomcat Clover
- Blue Wild Rye
Creating Habitat for Native Species
Krimmel founded the company with the intention of “creating habitat for native species within human-occupied areas and engaging people with the species interactions occurring in these habitations.”
The name, Miridae, is Latin for a family of insects known as “plant bugs,” or mirids, which Krimmel researches. One of the most well-known mirid is the lygus bug, a serious pest of cotton, strawberries and alfalfa.
Of his company, Krimmel says: “We create habitat for, and engage people with, native plants and the wildlife they support. We do this by tying together design, science, and high-quality construction to create landscapes that are beautiful, resilient, and ecologically powerful.”
His goal, with each project, is to “come one step closer to creating a network of habitat gardens and migration corridors to support resilient populations of native species.”
At UC Davis, Krimmel studied with Jay Rosenheim, distinguished professor, Department of Entomology and Nematology. Focusing his research on native plant-insect interactions, he wrote his dissertation on “Plant Traits and Plant-Herbivore-Omnivore Interactions.” He holds a bachelor of science degree in human biology (2008), with honors, from Brown University, Providence, RI.
Krimmel continues to be active in the research community, writing peer-reviewed journal articles on native plants and insects, and a quarterly column in the peer-reviewed journal Grasslands. “My vision is to connect landscaping with science and restoration,” he said.
With Miridae, he has overseen the design and building of more than 150 landscape projects throughout the Sacramento and Bay Area regions. He has severed as a board member and chair of outreach and development for the California Native Grasslands Association since 2015.
The UC Davis alumnus regularly presents at the Wildflowers and Conservation Biology to American River College, and the Waterwise Gardening Workshop series by the Yolo Research Conservation District. He also presents at a UC Davis course, Natural RX, discussing nature's healing abilities; and at the Hedgerow Farms Field Day on insect interactions in native gardens.
He delivered his virtual presentation 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.
Myfany Turpin of the University of Sydney will speak on "Grub's Up! The Category of Edible Insect Larvae in Central Australian Aboriginal Languages" at the UC Davis Entomology and Nematology's virtual seminar at 4:10 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 7.
This is the first of a series of fall seminars hosted by the department and coordinated by Ian Grettenberger, Cooperative Extension specialist and assistant professor.
"Dr. Turpin is a linguist and musicologist that has worked on the use of insects as aboriginal food sources," Grettenberger said.
Her abstract: "Edible insect larvae constitute a large part of the traditional Australian Aboriginal diet. Perhaps the most widely known example is the ‘Witchetty grub' (Endoxyla spp.). These played a role similar to that of a pacifier for infants being weaned. The term ‘witchetty' is the common name of the tree whose roots this popular grub dwells in (Acacia kempeana). The naming of specific larvae based on their host tree is a common naming strategy in the Aboriginal language Kaytetye, for which there are some 25 ethnospecies. This paper draws on Kaytetye people's knowledge, uses and naming of ethnospecies within the 'edible insect larvae' food class, which is one of five Kaytetye food classes."
In an article on "Edible Insect Larvae in Kaytetye: Their Nomenclature and Significance," published in March 2017 in the Journal of Ethnobiology, she wrote: "Insects have traditionally constituted an important source of food in many cultures, but changes in dietary practices and other lifestyle traits are threatening the transmission of insect-related knowledge and vocabulary to younger generations of Indigenous Australians. This paper describes the rich cultural and culinary traditions surrounding an important insect group, namely a class of edible insect larvae consumed by a desert community in central Australia. Twenty-nine different edible insect larvae are named in the Kaytetye language, with the names encoding the identity of the host plant on which the larvae are found. We describe the complexities involved in the naming system, paying special attention to cultural and linguistic factors. The difficulties in the scientific identification of these ethnotaxa are discussed, as are the significance of our data to (1) questions of universal patterns in ethnoclassification and nomenclature and (2) the purported lack of binomially-labeled folk species in the languages of hunter-gatherer societies."
Turpin, with the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, has been working on Australian Aboriginal songs and languages since 1996, according to her website. "Her research interests include the relationship between language and music, especially of lesser-known cultures; and identifying ways to support the continuation of endangered languages and performance arts. More specifically, her work examines Aboriginal song-poetry and its relationship to spoken languages. She is also involved in linguistic documentation of the Aboriginal language Kaytetye as well as Indigenous ecological knowledge and the lexicon in Arandic languages."
Turpin's hosts are evolutionary ecologists and biologists Scott Carroll and Jenella Loye of the Institute for Contemporary Evolution who engage in Carroll-Loye Biological Research. The scientists are affiliated with the Sharon Lawler lab, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
"I've visited her pioneering entomophagy studies among the remnant, so-called 'remote' central Australian peoples," said Carroll. "Academic entomologists know almost nothing about the biology of these insects. I learned that Giant Moth witchetty grubs are the most delicious, energy-packed animals I have ever eaten. Myf will tell us about these and many more that have been central to the diets of Australians. I am looking forward to this exciting interdisciplinary seminar."
Link to form for Zoom link and instructions: https://forms.
When UC Davis professor Jason Bond discovered a new genus of trapdoor spiders at Moss Landing State Park, Monterey County, and named the genus Cryptocteniza, he launched a “naming-of-the-species” contest.
The contest, beginning in mid-May and ending June 1, drew more than 200 suggestions from all over the world.
And now, Bond and fellow entomologists have selected a winner.
Entomologist Kirsten Pearsons, an alumnus of UC Davis who received her doctorate in entomology in August from Pennsylvania State University, submitted the winning name, “kawtak.”
So it's official: the trapdoor spider--or what Bond calls “the new endangered living fossil found on a sandy beach on a seashore along California's central coast"--is Cryptocteniza kawtak.
“The derivation of the specific epithet is Native American – from the Mutsun word for seashore,” said Bond, a noted spider authority and the Evert and Marion Schlinger Endowed Chair in Insect Systematics, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. The Mutsun Indians lived near Mission San Juan Bautista.
In a forthcoming scientific journal article on the spider's phylogeny, evolution, biogeography and discovery, Pearsons will be credited with naming the species.
One of his co-authors helped select the name: Bond's former doctoral student Chris Hamilton, a Native American Chicksaw who is an assistant professor in the Department of Entomology, Plant Pathology and Nematology, University of Idaho, Moscow. “Chris was involved in crafting the name and etymology.”
“I have also named other California spiders in the past for Native American groups and feel strongly that such new species names are an elegant connection California, to the land and its native people, “ Bond said.
The UC Davis professor said the Cryptocteniza kawtak is “morphologically distinct and geographically isolated from other related genera, with its closest phylogenetic relatives found much further to the east in New Mexico and Arizona.”
Trapdoor spiders are so named because they construct their burrows with a corklike or wafer trap door made of soil, vegetation and silk.
Bond discovered the female spider in 1997, and figured at the time it might be a new genus. But despite repeated trips to the site, he could not find a male for 22 years. The male proved elusive until pitfall trap sampling in the fall of 2019.
It is rare to find a genus in the field, the professor said. The usual place is in museum collections.
Bond believes the genus is found only in that area, but thinks it may be closely related to a genus found in New Mexico and Arizona. “It is quite plausible that this genus was once likely far more widespread across California and the American Southwest, with potentially greater past species diversity throughout its larger hypothetical ancestral range,” he said
In their journal article, the five-member team reconstructed the spider's evolutionary history: its extinction following the Miocene epoch, 23.03 to 5.3 million years ago and the establishment of a Mediterranean climate. “Owing to its phylogenetic distinctiveness, incredibly narrow distribution and age, we show that Cryptocteniza meets all the criteria of an ‘Endangered Living Fossil' and is consequently of grave conservation concern,” Bond said.
The other three co-authors are Bond lab members, doctoral student Rebecca Godwin and project scientist James Starrett; and Joel Ledford, an assistant professor of teaching in the Department of Plant Biology, College of Biological Sciences. Ledford interview Bond on May 18 for his Tree of Life-UC Davis YouTube channel. (Watch it online.)
The group opted for no public vote on the spider name, as it might result in something similar to “Boaty McBoatface,” the winner of a contest to name a British polar research vessel.
Of the genus name, Cryptocteniza, Bond says that the adjective “hidden or secret” is prefixed to Cteniza, the Greek feminine noun “comb.” The latter refers to the comb-like rastellum (row of stiff spines on the chelicera) common in taxa and formerly assigned to the spider family Ctenizidae (e.g., Eucteniza). The prefix refers to both the diminutive form of the rastellum and the seemingly “hidden in plain sight” nature of the genus, he says.
Bond credited Vera Opatova, a postdoctoral fellow in his lab, with helping to formulate the genus name.
Pearsons said that when she proposed the name, this is what she wrote: "Kawtak means "on the seashore" in the Mutsun language. Before the Spanish arrived, the moss landing area was home to the Mutsun people (http://amahmutsun.org). Today, tribal members and linguists are working to revitalize the Mutsun language, so this could be a small way to recognize this effort and to recognize their ties to the Monterey Bay. Also, it just sounds nice following the genus name!"
For her doctorate, Pearsons (she studied with major professor John Tooker at Penn State), explored how pest management affects arthropod decomposers and decomposition in field crops. She received her bachelor of science degree in environmental toxicology in 2015 from UC Davis.
At UC Davis, Pearsons served as a peer advisor in the Department of Environmental Technology for nearly two years. She also worked in the summer of 2014 as a student intern in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology's bee garden, the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven on Bee Biology Road.
Zoom links and times will be announced for each speaker, he said.
Gil Rosenthal, Texas A&M
“Mate Choice and its Consequences for Speciation and Hybridization”
Host: Gail Patricelli
Nandita Garud, UCLA
“Rapid Adaptation in Natural Populations: Lessons from Drosophila and the Human Microbiome”
Host: Kate Lane
Sarah Fitzpatrick, W. K. Kellogg Biological Station, Michigan State University
“Linking Evolution and Demography through Genetic Rescue of Small Populations”
Host: Erin Calfee
Jenny Ouyang, University of Nevada, Reno
“Ecology and Evolution of Physiological Traits in a Changing World”
Host: Thomas Coombs-Hahn
Gillian Bowser, Colorado State University
“Ecological Racism: The Blindness to Environmental and Social Justice in Ecological Research”
Host: Frederick Nelson
Alison Feder, UC Berkeley
“Probing Tumor Evolutionary Progression through Space and Time”
Host: Matt Osmond
Ellen Damschen, University of Wisconsin
“Local and Landscape Influences on Plant Community Dynamics in a Changing World”
Host: Susan Harrison
Anurag Agrawal, Cornell University
“Ecological and Evolutionary Effects of Suppressing Insect Herbivores in a Long-term Field Experiment”
Host: Danielle De La Pascua
Thanksgiving, No Seminar
Emily Darling, Wildlife Conservation Society, New York City
“Big Data on Coral Reefs for Ecology, Conservation, and International Policy”
Host: Brooke Benson
Susana Wadgymar, Davidson College, Davidson, North Carolina
“Can Assisted Gene Flow Rescue Populations that are Threatened by Climate Change?”
Host: Elena Suglia