Plants, Herbivores and Parasitoids: A Model System for the Study of Tri-Trophic Associations
All the nearly 20,000 plant species in North America are attacked by insect pests, including those in the group Hemiptera (known as the “true bugs”), which are in turn attacked by parasitoid insects in the Hymenoptera (sawflies, wasps, ants), widely used for biological control of agricultural pests. This project will unify some eight million records in 34 collections to answer how the distributions and phenologies of the plants, pests and parasitoids relate to each other, in a Tri-Trophic Databasing and imaging project–the TTD.
Data from this approach will benefit basic scientific questions and practical applications in the agricultural sciences, conservation biology, ecosystem studies and climate change and biogeography research.
Technological tools and methods will be introduced to graduate students, affiliated universities, and grant-sponsored students from other institutions through a short course. A data-mining and species-distribution modeling symposium at the University of California-Riverside will foster interactions between systematics and ecological researchers, and explore the TTD as a platform for instruction and inquiry.