Big Questions in the Lab
Does greater biodiversity among natural enemies lead to more effective control of herbivores?
More predator and pathogen species might provide a broader-based attack on different herbivore life stages, but also might provide more opportunities for predators to feed on one another, or pathogens to infect predators rather than herbivores.
What are the contributions of the two components of biodiversity, richness and evenness?
“Biodiversity” includes both the number of species (richness) and the balance in species’ densities (evenness). We are examining the relative importance of richness and evenness, and their relationship with one another.
How can farmers harness biodiversity’s benefits?
A key challenge is moving from a fundamental understanding of how richness and evenness impact natural pest control, to practical solutions that farmers can implement in the real world. We are investigating how organic agriculture, diversified plantings, crop arrangement in the landscape, and other practices might encourage beneficial biodiversity.
We combine a broad array of approaches – field experiments, modern molecular-biology tools, theoretical models, etc. – to address these questions.