Lucy Guarnieri wins prestigious NSF award!

We would like to offer a hearty congratulations to Lucy Guarnieri for winning an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship!

Lucy will be researching if existing urban conservation efforts provide value for urban moth communities. 

Congrats to Lucy on this well-deserved and exciting recognition! We are thrilled to support you in your research!

Field season has *officially* begun!

The Gardiner Lab has been mentally gearing up for field season throughout the long Columbus winter and been preparing materials for the last week (re: garage sale or shed clean-out), and we have good news: field season has officially begun!Ellen holding a thumbs up with a sticky trap.

Michelle holding a queen bee in a vial.Time to sample with all varieties of tools that may or may not be meant for catching bugs and soak in the sunshine as we move into the warmer months! We wish everyone a happy summer field season and a bee filled May term!

Michelle Pham wins NIFA pollinator travel award!

Michelle holding a bee.Congratulations Michelle for winning a NIFA pollinator travel award to attend and present at the IUSSI 2022 conference in San Diego this summer!

As well as presenting, she will be scouting out all the good food for Ellen to eat when she arrives in San Diego. Thanks in advance, and congratulations for your award!

ESRI User Conference Student Assistantship

Pic cred: Lucy Guarnieri

Congratulations to Ellen for being awarded a student assistantship to the ESRI User Conference this summer! She will be traveling to San Diego to learn more about using and applying ESRI GIS products in research, extension and everyday life.

Ellen has been working with GIS mapping softwares since her undergraduate degree, but she’s found that there are still many applications she has yet to discover. Ellen is excited to attend the conference to get some new ideas which she can bring back to the lab and her projects to make life even more geographical!


Michelle Pham awarded prestigious grant!

Congratulations to Michelle Pham who was awarded a fellowship from the prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program!

Michelle’s application is titled: ‘Municipal Investment in Urban Greening to Support Healthy Bee Communities’. She will be researching how the Community Backyards program has supported urban bee communities through garden rebates in Columbus. 

Congrats to Michelle on this well-deserved and exciting recognition! We are excited to support you in your research!

Incoming: new lab photo

The 2021-2022 school year has started and we are back in person for some classes! Here’s hoping for a healthy and productive new year in the Gardiner Lab, as we welcome two new students (Ellen and Lucy) and continue working on our research projects and coursework.

Workshop and Tour on August 19

From Blight to Bright: Reimagining vacant land to support people and biodiversity in cities

Are you interested in urban conservation? A field tour and workshop on August 19 hosted by Dr. Mary Gardiner and her Laboratory will highlight the importance of vacant land as a habitat for insects and source of many important ecosystem services we derive from our landscape. Speakers will  address the community of insects found in vacant lots, balancing the needs of people and insects in vacant lot design, how to establish native plants in degraded habitats, community gardening, and the importance of the urban forest. The city of Cleveland, OH manages over 30,000 vacant lots. Although these properties can be seen as blight, there are also many exciting ways to reimagine these greenspaces to promote conservation and community goals.

See the workshop schedule here: Blight to Bright – A Workshop on August 19 in Cleveland

Register here



New Bee Factsheet!

Gardiner Lab alum MaLisa Spring has produced a new OSU Extension Factsheet titled: How to Identify and Enhance Wild Bees in Your Landscape (see link below to download). MaLisa’s MS thesis focused on the wild bees that forage in Cleveland vacant lot habitats. She is also an avid nature photographer, and some of her great bee shots are featured!

Entomology 85 2019-0524

Sarah Scott wins prestigious NSF-GRFP

Congratulations to Sarah Scott who was awarded a fellowship from the prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program!

Sarah’s application is titled: Bees in the city: The impacts of fragmentation and contamination on bumblebee fitness.

Over 12,000 graduate students applied for this award in 2018 and Sarah was one of 2,000 awardees. She joins 40 other students at Ohio State who are currently NSF GRFPs– bringing the Gardiner lab GRFP total to 4 students!

Congrats to Sarah on this well-deserved and exciting recognition!

Gardiner lab members win at NCB-ESA!

Congratulations to Gardiner lab members who won awards at the North Central Branch meeting of the Entomological Society of America. We are very proud of all of our student talks– everyone who presented won an award!

1st place PhD 10-minute talk: Chris Riley
1st place MS 10-minute talk: Alex Tyrpak
2nd place MS 10-minute talk: Sarah Scott
2nd place Undergraduate 10-minute talk: Ellen Dunkle
3rd place PhD 10-minute talk: Katie Turo
3rd place MS 10-minute talk: Denisha Parker
Katie Turo also received a North Central Branch Educational Project Award for her 4-H project books: Insect Adventures I, II, III. You can find these books at Ohio 4-H’s website!

Summer 2019 field positions!

Join the Gardiner Lab this summer! We are a landscape ecology lab based in Columbus, OH but we primarily conduct our research in the urban ecosystem of Cleveland, OH. Our NSF-funded research focuses on designing sustainable urban green spaces that are both cost-effective and better for the environment. As one of our field technicians, you will gain both field and lab experience. Download the application to learn more.


(but accepted on a rolling basis afterwards)

At the end of your summer at the Gardiner Lab you can expect to gain:

  • An increased knowledge of Ohio’s diverse insect and plant communities
  • Skills in collecting unique arthropods including spiders, long legged flies, and bees
  • A resume-building research experience and potential letters of recommendation for future jobs

Pay: $9.50/Hour (up to 38 hours/week)
Location: Columbus, OH @ The Ohio State University
Duration: May to mid-August, 2019

Urban Greenspace Manager Position

The Gardiner Lab in the Department of Entomology at The Ohio State University seeks a Summer Urban Greenspace Manager. This individual will be responsible for maintaining (including mowing, trimming, mulching, weeding, and trash removal) a network of urban vacant lot greenspaces. The selected candidate will also assist Mary Gardiner with establishing experiments and collecting data from the vacant lot sites.  These habitats were established in 2014 and the Gardiner Lab is examining their value for arthropod conservation. The individual selected for this position must be able to drive, operate equipment such as lawn mowers and weed whips, and enjoy working independently and be comfortable interacting with the public.

This job is titled Research Assistant 1 in the OSU system will be posted for 2 weeks (March 19-31) and can be found here:

The position runs from May 1 to October 15, with an earlier start date possible.

Site photos and details here:

Contact Mary Gardiner ( with questions related to the position after reviewing the full announcement.

Hiring for Summer 2018!

Join the Gardiner Lab this summer! We are a landscape ecology lab based in Columbus, OH but we primarily conduct our research in the urban ecosystem of Cleveland, OH. Our NSF-funded research focuses on designing sustainable urban green spaces that are both cost-effective and better for the environment. As one of our field technicians, you will gain both field and lab experience. Download the application to learn more.


(but accepted on a rolling basis afterwards)

At the end of your summer at the Gardiner Lab you can expect to gain:

  • An increased knowledge of Ohio’s diverse insect and plant communities
  • Skills in collecting unique arthropods including spiders, long legged flies, and bees
  • A resume-building research experience and potential letters of recommendation for future jobs

Pay: $9.50/Hour (up to 38 hours/week)
Location: Columbus, OH @ The Ohio State University
Duration: May to mid-August, 2018

Pollinator Field Day at Midtown Learning Farm!

Graduate student Katie Todd and undergraduate Mike Friedman recently presented their research as part of an Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association Field tour. The field day was held at the Cleveland Botanical Gardens Midtown Learning Farm. Midtown is one of first of now several CBG urban farms that employs Cleveland youth in a summer work-study program. Katie and Mike put together an educational display including bee nests, pinned specimens, and a handout explaining their research, which focuses on the value of urban greenspaces as a nesting habitat.

Does Competition for Food Result in Lady Beetle Decline?

Graduate student Denisha Parker is going to determine if native lady beetles that have remained common following the introduction of exotic species have a low degree of dietary niche overlap with their competitors. If this is true, it would aid in our understanding of why some species have declined dramatically following exotic introductions while others have remained. Denisha was recently awarded a highly competitive North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Graduate Student Grant ($11,924) to support her work. She will be collecting two species of lady beetles (checker-spot lady beetle (exotic) and orange spotted lady beetle (native)) from our control and high-diversity wildflower vacant lot plots as well as urban farms using sweep nets and sticky traps. Using molecular gut content analysis she will determine the diet of these species and determine how much overlap exists and if it varies by foraging habitat.

Project Description: Native lady beetles are an important group of urban agricultural predators, but in recent decades many have declined dramatically coinciding with introductions of exotic lady beetle competitors. We will determine if the degree of overlap in predator diet, a form of exploitative competition, explains why some native species have declined while others have remained common following exotic establishment.  Using this information, we can manage greenspaces to both conserve native biodiversity and promote urban farm sustainability.



Does Cd Contamination Influence Pollination?

Rachel McLaughlin is an undergraduate researcher in the Gardiner Lab, mentored by Frances Sivakoff. With an undergraduate grant and support from our recent USDA AFRI, Rachel and Frances are studying how soil contamination with cadmium influences the number and length of pollinator visits to sunflowers. Cadmium is found in elevated concentrations in many urban soils with an industrial past, including Cleveland, OH where much of our research takes place. This experiment was conducted on the OSU campus adjacent to a demonstration urban farm, and follows up on research recently published by Sivakoff and Gardiner (Urban Ecosystems, in press), which documented that lead contamination of soils reduced the visit duration of bees to sunflowers.

DNA Methods to Map Important Bee Forage in Cleveland

Over the past year, graduate students Rodney Richardson and Katie Todd have co-authored, and were awarded, two student grants to conduct pollen research in Cleveland, OH. Rodney and Katie are supported by a North Central Region SARE graduate student grant ($11,930) and an OARDC SEEDS graduate student grant ($9,775) to investigate solitary bee’s pollen usage on urban farms. They are mid-way through their first year of pollen collection and will use pollen metabarcoding DNA analysis this fall to determine what their bee larvae were eating in Cleveland this summer. Check out the photos below to see some of their sites and bee X-rays!

Project Summary: Urban agriculture is highly reliant on the pollination services that wild bees provide. In order to support pollinator’s survival and reproduction, we need to supply both crop and non-crop pollen resources for these bees. However, we don’t have a clear picture of what solitary bees feed their young in urban farm environments. Therefore, we don’t know what flower plantings will best support local bees. In order to test what bees eat in urban farms of Cleveland, OH, we will collect bee larvae and pollen with “Bee Hotel” trap nests. We will then conduct a DNA analysis on the pollen within these nests in order to determine what floral resources are critical for solitary bee reproduction. With this insight into urban bee foraging behavior and reproductive success, our study will inform farmers about urban habitat management to support future generations of urban bees and urban farm sustainability.

ciCLEvia Central Event

Graduate Student Denisha Parker, undergraduate Ryan Byler, and Mary Gardiner participated in a fun outreach event on Sunday showcasing the Central Neighborhood of Cleveland, OH. Community College Avenue was closed to traffic from 1-5 pm on Sunday 7/16/17 allowing families to walk among five activity hubs. One of our prairie sites fell within the arts and culture hub. We had the opportunity to meet our neighbors, talk with community members about our study, and most importantly collect some bugs with a great group of children. Below are some photos of Denisha and Ryan helping the budding entomologists to wrangle their catch!

Paper Examines Value of Exotic Trees

Chris Riley, Dan Herms, and Mary Gardiner recently published a paper as part of a special issue of Urban Forestry and Urban Greening titled: Exotic trees contribute to urban forest diversity and ecosystem services in inner-city Cleveland, OH.

This study highlights the importance of vacant land to the urban forest – these sites had three times as many trees as residential sites! The majority of trees found on vacant land are exotic and naturally regenerated. This weedy forest, such as the tree-of-heaven individuals which have sprouted up alongside the abandoned building in the photo below are not traditionally thought to provide any benefits in their invaded ecosystems. But, in inner-city Cleveland exotic trees are providing many ecosystem services such as energy cost reduction, pollution removal and increased storm water infiltration. How the presence of these species influences the biodiversity of tree-dwelling herbivores and their predators in vacant lots is currently being investigated by Chris Riley.

Our paper was recently featured in the Anthropocene Weekly Science Magazine and is also highlighted on the OSU Grant development Support Unit Website.

Bee Balm in Bloom

Its amazing how quickly the vegetation shifts in an urban prairie. This week bee balm (Monarda fistulosa) is in full bloom! This native Ohio wildflower took three years to bloom in our plots, it is highly attractive to pollinators. Photos of the pocket prairies from June and July are archived HERE.

Gardiner Lab Graduate Student Funded to Study in Peru

Recently, PhD student Yvan Delgado de la Flor was funded by an OARDC SEEDS graduate student grant to inventory the spider fauna within a region of Peru. Yvan has made one trip to initiate the study and train a great group of undergraduates who are helping him to collect spiders from several habitats within the Cusco region of the tropical Andes. A  project summary and some photos from his first research trip are below.

Project Summary: Biodiversity assessments are critical for setting conservation goals as they can reveal changes in species composition providing evidence about the impact of human activity on natural habitats and wildlife communities. The tropical Andes is one of the most important biological hotspots on Earth, yet its fauna and flora remain mostly unknown to science. In 1911, Yale University organized an expedition to assess the biodiversity of Cusco, a region located in the tropical Andes of Peru. This resulted in the description of several new species, and the discovery of Machu Picchu. In collaboration with Peruvian institutions, we aim to replicate the Yale expedition. To do this, we will assess the current diversity and distribution of spiders in Cusco, and determine whether spider communities have changed following 100 years of human mediated habitat change in the region.

USDA NIFA Announces 2017 Grant Awardees!

The USDA National Institute for Food and Agriculture has announced their grant awardees for the Pests and Beneficial Species program and Frances Sivakoff and Mary Gardiner  along with our collaborators Reed Johnson (OSU) and Amy Toth (ISU) are one of the 21 funded projects! See the full list of awardees at: Details about our new project below.


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.

Chris Riley Recognized for Service

Graduate Student Chris Riley was recently recognized with the Department of Entomology David J. Horn Service Award for 2017 at the annual department picnic. Chris volunteers at many outreach events on campus each year, holds a large number of professional service positions, and is an avid volunteer in our community. Congrats Chris!