New ideas to conserve insect biodiversity that additionally provides economic opportunities for farmers must be developed in order to promote robust and resilient ecosystems. Since 2019, we have been testing a few agricultural management practices that could promote healthier ecosystems. Examples include woody perennial polycultures, cover crops, no-till, and multiyear diverse crop rotations.
Beneficial insects provide numerous ecosystem services that help agricultural production systems remain agronomically and environmentally sustainable. Examples include biological pest control, decomposition, nutrient cycling, pollination, seed dispersal, and soil aeration. However, to effectively benefit from insects and their services, we must continually work to better understand the complex nature of invertebrate guilds, the value of these guilds, and how land management practices impact their overall functionality. Since 2020, we have begun testing these ideas for taxa like ants, bees, and beetles in both conventional and perennial systems.
Throughout life, insects experience a variety of environmental conditions that directly impact their survival, growth, and reproduction. For the past decade, our lab has been fascinated with the interplay between two variables: nutrition and temperature. We have worked on ants, bees, beetles, grasshoppers, and moths. In the future, we hope to branch out into desiccation resistance as we work to better understand how and which insects tolerate our changing climate.
We recently acquired funding to support a 2-yr postdoc on this topic. Please check out the link for more information: https://www.zintellect.com/Opportunity/Details/USDA-ARS-2022-0379