The broad emphasis of my research program is to understand relevant interactions between nature, crops, and farmers by revealing synergies and conflicts between pest control, environmental, and socio-economic goals. Focused on a central theme of geography, my program uses a landscape-level research approach that unifies fundamental concepts of arthropod life history strategies with landscape ecology to understand complex communities of pests and beneficial arthropods. We study these basic ecological principles in a framework of contemporary agricultural systems to generate research-based extension information that targets key stakeholder groups (growers, consultants, extension, industry) with the goal of reducing the negative impacts of pest management practices. Research in my program fits within four intersecting thematic areas: a) Understanding the effects of changing landscape composition and configuration on pests with different life histories. b) Documenting negative impacts pesticide use across multiple levels of ecological organization. c) Integrating insecticide resistance management and geospatial crop production data to advance understanding of spatiotemporal insecticide resistance selection and refuge patches in agroecosystems. d) Adapting existing precision agricultural technologies to more effectively document and manage insect pest problems in agricultural fields and reduce unnecessary pesticide inputs. Work in my lab combines on-farm measurements, manipulative experiments, geospatial science, and statistical approaches to understand pest issues in an array of agricultural crops and production systems. The long-term goal of this program will be to address current and emerging crop-pest issues using an agile research and extension approach that is sensitive to rapidly changing agricultural practices in an era of technologically driven crop production. Armed with this knowledge, we can design and deliver adequate decision-support tools that address the needs of stakeholders to manage emerging problems through a revitalized Integrated Pest Management approach. Through incremental research-based improvements, my program will contribute to a broader effort to develop durable and effective pest mitigation strategies that reduce reliance on pesticides, improve the resiliency of production systems, and decrease the cascading negative impacts of agriculture on rural communities and the environment.
- A Multimodal Sensing Platform for Interdisciplinary Research in Agrarian Environments , SENSORS (2022)
- A Symmetrical Diester as the Sex Attractant Pheromone of the North American Click Beetle Parallelostethus attenuatus (Say) (Coleoptera: Elateridae) , JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL ECOLOGY (2022)
- Helicoverpa zea (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) Thresholds and Yield Compensation Between Soybeans with Determinate and Indeterminate Growth Habits , JOURNAL OF ECONOMIC ENTOMOLOGY (2022)
- Helicoverpa zea (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) feeding incidence and survival on Bt maize in relation to maize in the landscape , PEST MANAGEMENT SCIENCE (2022)
- Host plant resistance, foliar insecticide application and natural enemies play a role in the management of Melanaphis sorghi (Hemiptera: Aphididae) in grain sorghum , FRONTIERS IN PLANT SCIENCE (2022)
- Imidacloprid-resistant Aphis gossypii populations are more common in cotton-dominated landscapes , PEST MANAGEMENT SCIENCE (2022)
- Sampling Optimization and Crop Interface Effects on Lygus lineolaris Populations in Southeastern USA Cotton , INSECTS (2022)
- Spatial and temporal patterns of Frankliniella fusca (Thysanoptera: Thripidae) in wheat agroecosystems , JOURNAL OF APPLIED ENTOMOLOGY (2022)
- Standardized Field Trials in Cotton and Bioassays to Evaluate Resistance of Tobacco Thrips (Thysanoptera: Thripidae) to Insecticides in the Southern United States , JOURNAL OF ECONOMIC ENTOMOLOGY (2022)
- Temperature-driven differences in phenology and habitat suitability for brown marmorated stink bug, Halyomorpha halys, in two ecoregions of North Carolina , JOURNAL OF PEST SCIENCE (2022)
The CleanSEED project aims to develop a research and extension proposal that will address the critical needs of U.S. sweetpotato certified seed programs using stakeholder input to identify priority research areas and build relationships between industry representatives, top research scientists, and clean plant organizations. The project will include a collaborative process that brings together multi-state and multi-institutional teams of biological, physical, and social scientists to promote a trans-disciplinary systems-based approach, create a plan to address USDA priorities, and a plan for disseminating the results. The following SCRI program legislatively mandated focus areas will be addressed: a) Pest and disease management - sweetpotato clean seed is integral to management not only of systemic pathogens such as viruses and soft rot bacteria, but also to soilborne pathogens that infect roots such as the storage roots used for sweetpotato seed; b)Emerging and invasive species - black rot caused by the root and soilborne fungus Ceratocystis fimbriata re-emerged in 2013-14 and was apparently spread to other states on seed roots. GRKN, Meloidogyne enterolobii, was first found in Florida in 2001, then reported in North Carolina in 2011, and was intercepted on sweetpotato seed roots in interstate shipments in 2018. It is an invasive threat that poses a serious problem to vegetable and row crop industries throughout the U.S. and sweetpotato seed roots are an ideal vehicle for its dissemination; c)To improve production efficiency, handling and processing, productivity, and profitability over the long term - common U.S. sweetpotato viruses can reduce yields 25-40%, affect skin color and uniformity of shape. Black rot and GRKN can render sweetpotatoes unmarketable and quarantines for GRKN and sweetpotato weevil restrict efficient movement of sweetpotatoes to various markets; d)Improved monitoring systems for agricultural pests - breeding lines entered into therapy programs are routinely tested for viruses present, improving methods of seed inspection could provide an additional opportunity to detect new or re-emerging problems; e) Effective systems for pre-harvest and postharvest management of quarantine pests - clean seed of sweetpotato is a proven means of managing a long list of pathogens and pests that can infect or infest storage roots, but improved delivery systems and education programs will be needed to take advantage of this opportunity.
A Pipeline of a Resilient Workforce that integrates Advanced Analytics to the Agriculture, Food and Energy Supply Chain
An objective of our project is to identify new pheromone compounds from live unmated pestiferous click beetle females. A second objective is to field screen possible pheromone compounds to determine which chemicals or blends are attractive to pestiferous click beetle species.
Accurate monitoring for changes in pest susceptibility to insecticidal toxins expressed in genetically engineered agronomic crops is currently an ineffective process limited by both scale and scope of deployment. Although long-term scientific and social change will be necessary to minimize pest resistance evolution, understanding near-term shifts in susceptibility through novel monitoring will also be essential to enable more effective resistance management strategies. To address this limitation on resistance monitoring, we propose to develop and deploy real-time pheromone-based sensor platforms to indicate patterns of lepidopteran pest activity in landscapes. We will use cotton bollworm (Helicoverpa zea Boddie) as a case study to develop and refine automated monitoring tools designed to detect shifts in pest susceptibility.
This project will develop integrated strategies to address trade barriers for export sweetpotatoes in the United States.