Welcome!

My research explores the factors that regulate arthropod abundance and distribution, from common agricultural pests to rare endangered butterflies, across agricultural, natural and urban landscapes. Across these systems, I aim to gain a mechanistic understanding of how changes in habitat quality influences arthropods to improve habitat management and promote ecosystem services. Changes in habitat quality often arise from habitat manipulation, and can be done intentionally (as in the installation of hedgerows to promote beneficial species) or unintentionally (as in the case of anthropogenic contamination of urban soils). Regardless, habitat manipulation can have profound consequences on species interactions, including those between plant-pollinator, plant-insect, and predator-prey, and ultimately affect arthropod species abundance and distribution. For more information, check out my research page.  Find out more about me on my contact info page.

News

9/22/2017 Our Sustainable and Resilient Economy (SRE) SEEDS grant entitled “Harnessing the ecosystem services of vacant lots to promote sustainability and resilience in Cleveland” was funded!

8/1/2017 My undergraduate mentee, Rachel McLaughlin, was awarded a College of Agriculture Honors Research Scholarship based on her independent undergraduate research project!  Way to go Rachel!

Rachel McLaughlin creating Cd-contaminated soil for her independent research project

7/25/2017 Our STEAM powered project proposal “Harnessing the ecosystem services of vacant lots to promote sustainability and resilience in Cleveland, OH” was selected for full funding! Looking forward to leading this powerhouse interdisciplinary team Summer 2018!

6/29/2017 The USDA National Institute for Food and Agriculture has announced their grant awardees for the Pests and Beneficial Species program and my, Mary Gardiner, Reed Johnson and Amy Toth’s proposal was one of the 21 funded projects! See the full list of awardees at: https://nifa.usda.gov/announcement/usda-invests-76-million-research-pests-and-beneficial-species. Details about our new project below.

LANDSCAPE LEGACY AND URBAN AGRICULTURE: UNDERSTANDING THE IMPACT OF HEAVY METAL CONTAMINATION ON POLLINATOR HEALTH AND POLLINATION SERVICES

Project Summary: Cleveland OH’s formerly densely-populated inner-city neighborhoods now contain over 27,000 vacant lots as a result of protracted economic decline and the recent home foreclosure crisis. Currently, there are over 250 urban agroecosystems established on formerly vacant land across Cleveland. The sustainability of urban agriculture requires reliable ecosystem services, including pollination. A landscape legacy of heavy metal (HM) soil contamination represents a key threat to pollinators. We propose to study the impact of HM contamination on bee foraging behavior, bumblebee colony health, and pollination. Our work will begin by examining how soil HM contamination influences bee visitation and pollination services of focal crop plants (Objective 1). Next, we will focus on how foraging on contaminated provisions influences colony health, including reproductive potential, nutritional state, immunity, and detoxification (Objective 2). Third, we will track individual pollinators throughout an urban agroecosystem to determine how HM exposure influences their overall foraging patterns and efficiency (Objective 3). Finally, we will determine the weedy flora that provide key resources for pollinators and identify how these plants vary in their concentration of HM (Objective 4). In accomplishing our objectives, we will elucidate the effects of HMs on a vital ecosystem service necessary to attain sustainability and security in urban agriculture.

5/1/2017 My undergraduate mentee, Rachel McLaughlin, was awarded a Will C. Hauk Endowment Research Grant to fund her independent research project entitled “Effects of Cadmium contamination in soil on pollinators and plants.” Way to go Rachel!

8/19/16 My second manuscript to come out of my NCSU postodc work was accepted for publication by Ecosphere! Two down, one to go…

6/29/16 Manuscript validating the technique of protein marking in bed bugs accepted for publication by The Journal of Medical Entomology.

6/8/16 Had a blast at my first North Central Branch meeting of the Entomological Society of America with the Gardiner Lab in Cleveland, OH. Lots of great feedback on my work investigating the effects of Pb contamination on bee foraging behavior!

5/2/16 Visited Indianapolis with the Gardiner lab to participate in an urban agriculture working group. It was wonderful to meet other researchers and extension professionals interested in urban agriculture in the Midwest!

4/21/16 Jazzed to have won second place in the OARDC Annual Research Conference Poster Competition!

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Me at the OARDC poster competition

4/4/16 Visited Wright State Department of Biological Sciences to give the departmental seminar. You can see a clip of my talk here! Thanks to Don Cipollini  and John Stireman for hosting me!

3/24/16 Presented my research findings in the Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology Seminar at The Ohio State University. Thanks for the awesome mug!

My new favorite mug

My new favorite mug

11/18/15 Wonderful trip to the annual meeting of the Entomological Society of America in Minneapolis, MN where I presented results from my butterfly work during my postdoc at NCSU. Great job to all of the Gardiner lab members for excellent presentations!

10/12/15 Visited the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Cincinnati to give departmental seminar on the complete story of my butterfly work from North Carolina. Find out more on that research here!

9/8/15 Wrapped up another successful field season – I can’t wait to look at the data! Thanks to Nicole and Chelsea for helping me collect data. Check out more information about my pollinator response to heavy metal contamination project here!

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Big brother watching a Megachilid on an experimental sunflower

8/14/15 Presented at the annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America in my hometown of Baltimore, MD. Wonderful to catch up with ecologist friends from around the country!

4/15/15 I had a wonderful visit to the Department of Entomology at Purdue where I gave the departmental seminar. Thanks to Ian Kaplan for hosting me!

2/12/15 I was awarded a SEEDS grant to continue my work on bed bug dispersal using protein markers.

2/10/15 My first manuscript to come out of my NCSU postdoc work was accepted for publication by Ecology as a report!  Pre-print coming soon…

11/18/14 Gave two presentations at the Entomological Society of America’s annual meeting in Portland Oregon.  One was a talk on my butterfly research from my postdoc at North Carolina State University.  The talk was entitled “Indirect negative effects of predation outweigh benefits of habitat restoration for immature stages of a wetland butterfly”. This information is also in a manuscript that is currently in review.  The second presentation was a poster that focused on some of the exciting bed bug research we’re doing at Ohio State University.  I really enjoyed discussing bed bugs with those that stopped by the poster!

Discussing our bed bug research on sublethal effects with a conference-goer at ESA

Discussing our bed bug research on sublethal effects with a conference-goer at ESA

5/21/14 Led a tour of the Jones lab to members of the Central Ohio Bed Bug Task Force to exhibit our bed bug rearing operations and answer questions about bed bugs.  It is wonderful to see interest in learning more about bed bugs from all sorts of different organizations in the community.

5/5/14 – 5/8/14  Scott Machtley from James Hagler‘s lab at USDA-ARS in Maricopa, AZ visits the Jones lab to help us get our ELISA processing off the ground.  It was a super helpful, productive, and fun visit – come back soon, Scott!

1/15/14  Visited Wooster, OH to present my research in the Entomology Seminar.  Thanks for the invitation, I had a great time!

10/15/14  Traveled to Arcata, CA for a week of data analysis and butterfly research with the SERDP team.

SERDP group photo. Arcata, CA. October 2013

SERDP group photo. Arcata, CA. October 2013

10/11/14  Participated in Central Ohio Bed Bug Task Force Summit.  It was great to see so many people attending to learn about bed bugs!

8/19/14  I joined the Jones lab to work on bed bug dispersal using protein markers