- To provide collections of insects and educational materials for display cases on campus to illustrate insect biodiversity and important ecosystem services provided by insects,
- To engage undergraduate students (paid and volunteer) to learn to collect and identify these insects for the display cases, and
- To provide outreach to the campus community through student organization involvement, iNaturalist, and social media.
We were pleased to hear that Helen Craig’s proposal entitled, “Educating and empowering UMD students on the importance of insect biodiversity in sustainability,” was funded for 2023. Insects are well known to the public as pollinators, but less recognized is their importance at degrading wood and other plant debris in forests and parkland, the decomposition of dead animals left on the ground, and their value in cleaning flowing water. In this proposal, we intend to begin an education program to familiarize the students, staff, and faculty at the University of Maryland about the value of insects towards sustainability of human interaction with the environment, and connect their value to the preservation of our society. Our project objectives are:
Alina publishes her last research article with us on ecological fitting of spotted lanternfly and their hostplants!
We are pleased for the recent publication of an article by Alina Avanesyan, Cameron McPherson, and Bill Lamp entitled, “Analysis of plant trait data of host plants of Lycorma delicatula in the US suggests evidence for ecological fitting.” Plant traits and origin may be consequential in the ecological fitting of an exotic herbivore species as it invades new habitats and new potential plant hosts. Using known plant hosts for spotted lanternfly (SLF), we assessed how plant origin affects insect host selection and how native and introduced host plants differ in their morphology, lifespan, and environmental requirements. Based on 25 plant traits as well as the origin and phylogenic relationships of 37 plant hosts of SLF, we did not find a preference of SLF for native versus exotic plants, and indeed the plant traits for all hosts were similar. Our results suggest that ecological fitting of SLF as an invasive, exotic species does not stray from the plant traits and phylogeny of its native (Asian) hosts.
Read the full text article here.