Cities exert a specific set of pressures on living things. The bi-products of development—reduced plant cover, pollution, drought, heat—eliminate certain species from cities, but what about those that survive? Do they rapidly adapt to human influence? What happens to complex interactions between herbivores, parasitoids, and symbionts in the wake of these changes?
My research focuses on the ecology and management of urban tree pests. Specifically, I will investigate how urban heat islands affect arthropod behavior and population dynamics. Worldwide, urban temperatures are significantly warmer than surrounding rural and natural areas but the effect of urban warming on the herbivorous arthropods is not well known. I am studying the effects that these elevated temperatures have on red maple trees (Acer rubrum) and their most damaging arthropod pests including maple spider mites (Oligonychus aceri) and gloomy scale (Melanaspis tenebricosa). I will also be exploring the effects of urbanization on natural enemy and predator populations and looking at the various ways in which they are influenced physiologically and behaviorally. Red maples are one of the most widely planted ornamental trees of landscaped areas along the eastern United States. Gaining a better understanding of how these detrimental arthropod pests function among these systems will not only give us an idea of how continuously elevating temperatures may be affecting arthropods worldwide but may also help develop new methods for pest management. Adam has published papers about his work in Ecological Applications and PLoS One. See a photo gallery of Adam’s research featured in the Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America.
Travis joined the lab in September 2012. The focus of his MS degree will be optimizing aphid banker plant systems by understanding how banker plant species and mixtures affect efficacy. He will also conduct experiments in commercial greenhouses around the state to test the efficacy of banker plant systems.
I am studying the impact of urbanization on the western honey bee, Apis mellifera. Certain factors of urbanization such as urban pesticides and heavy metals have been shown to negatively affect the immunocompetency of some insects, while other factors, such urban heat island effect have had varied responses. Oxidative stress may also be influenced by urbanization, particularly associated pollutants. The objective of this research will be to determine how urbanization affects the immune system and ability to withstand oxidative stress for A. mellifera. This research will lead to deeper understanding of the mechanistic impacts of urbanization as they pertain to this highly valued species.
As cities and towns continue to grow, it is very important to understand how other forms of life are influenced by humans. Urbanization is one of the leading factors that cause many species to change their behavior to survive, adapting to different available resources. Insects are the foundation of an ecosystem—serving as food, decomposers, pollinators, and fulfilling various other niches. Pollinators intrigue me, particularly bees, which are known to pollinate 1/3 of the world’s food. With any bee decline, not only would humans have less nutrition, but natural ecosystems and the services they provide would be negatively affected. My research focuses on urban native bees communities. I will investigate many variables, such as temperature and impervious surfaces, as they affect bee diversity and health. The main goal of this research is to increase understanding of the native bee communities in common urban areas such as yards, gardens, and golf courses. This information may be used in a variety of ways from manipulation of urban green areas to conservation efforts for the encouragement of urban native bees.
Post Doctoral Associates
Kevin E. McCluney
Water is essential to life on earth and may drive physiology, behavior, species interactions, and population, food web, and ecosystem dynamics. Previously, McCluney investigated these dynamics in riparian zones in Arizona, finding evidence that water drives species interactions. Thus, these riparian food webs might be better viewed as water webs. For McCluney’s current post-doc, he’s extending these ideas to urban ecosystems, exploring the effects of urbanization on water balance and species interactions of tree and shrub dwelling arthropods.
Follow Kevin on Google + (https://plus.google.com/u/0/105555648206264930599/about) or academia.edu (http://ncsu.academia.edu/KevinMcCluney)
Technicians, undergraduates, and others….
I received a BS in zoology with an entomology focus from Auburn University. My past experience includes scouting for aphids and other economically important insects for research on pumpkin plants, assisting with research of plant volatiles produced in response to feeding by yellow-margined leaf beetles, attempting to determine the standard metabolic rate of ambrosia beetles, and spider identification. I currently work as a technician in the Frank Lab maintaining greenhouse and nursery sites, performing pesticide trials, and assisting with research. My interests include conservation biology
especially in relation to human disturbances of forest ecosystems, maintaining biodiversity of forest habitats, wood boring beetles and their effects on forests and nurseries, and also exploring IPM techniques in order to control various insect pests. My goal is to attain a Master’s degree in zoology or a related field.
Sarah Wong – MS degree 2012
Sara Prado – MS degree 2012