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Harnessing Chemical Ecology to Address Agricultural Pest and Pollinator Priorities

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Principal Investigator/Project Leader: 
Department of Project: 
Department of Biology
Project Description: 

Working both on farms and in managed pollinator habitats, I will determine how local plant diversity and abundance and surrounding landscape use shape (a) bee diversity and (b) pollination service to crops. Each of these responses requires a substantial amount of work to assess and may be conducted in separate years.In addition, I will continue to examine the factors that contribute to pollinator health in agricultural contexts. Preliminary results of my current work show that ¾ of an acre of sunflower crops or more results in substantially reduced incidence of Crithidia infection in commercial Bombus impatiens colonies deployed on-farm. I will continue to assess the mechanisms that underlie this relationship as well as expand our assessment to understand how sunflowers and crop diversity affect pathogen infection in other target pollinator species.Finally, we will study how environmental stressors such as drought affect pesticide levels in crop pollen and consequently bee health.

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