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: 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.

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!