The Gratton lab has been busy these past couple of months presenting research at regional and national meetings. Here are examples of our 2017 research presentations ranging from bee behavioral responses in apple orchards to nitrogen effects on freshwater algal communities. While these topics may appear disparate and unrelated, they are all united by the focus of trying to understand food-web interactions in natural and human-dominated landscapes. Other meetings on the horizon include the Ecological Society of America Meeting in August (Portland, OR) and the Entomological Society of America in November (Denver, CO).
Wisconsin Fresh Market Vegetable Growers Association (WFMVGA) Conference (January 2017, Wisconsin Dells, WI)
The WFMVGA conference is where fruit growers can learn about research going on in their cropping system. Crops include apple, strawberries, raspberries, grapes, etc. Hannah Gaines Day gave an oral presentation about my ongoing research in apple orchards. The main objective of her research is to understand how the presence of non-crop flowers in the orchard understory influences bee behavior and apple fruit set. In the first year of field work (2016), she found no difference in bee visitation or fruit set in orchard rows that had a high or low abundance of understory flowers present. Hannah plans to continue her research in 2017 to see if patterns persist.
Gordon Research Conference on Plant-Herbivore Interactions, GRC-PHI (February 2017, Ventura, CA)
The GRC-PHI brought together a wide range of presentations with the focus on developing novel approaches and technologies for understanding how plants and herbivores interact at multiple scales (e.g. from molecular mechanisms of plant defenses (small scale) to the effects of climate change on plant and insect communities and insects (large scales)). Brian Spiesman and Tania Kim presented a poster where a novel technique (Next Generation Sequencing, NGS) was used to identify food resources in lady beetles, an important group of insect predators. Results from both lab and field studies found that lady beetles consume a wide range of prey items from aphids to other predators (e.g. spiders and lady beetles). Therefore, NGS can be a reliable method to characterize the prey community but lots of samples are required.
Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO) Aquatic Sciences Meeting (March 2017, Honolulu, HI)
Every two years, ASLO hosts a joint freshwater and oceanic science which spans broad topics including physical, chemical, biological processes. Amanda McCormick presented an oral presentation on the effects of nutrient enrichment on benthic algal abundance, production, and taxonomic composition from our field work at Lake Myvatn, Iceland. Her results showed that nitrogen had a negative (and unexpected) effect on algal production and induced a composition shift toward more green algae taxa. The meeting included a diverse range of research, but the theme was “From the Mountains to the Sea,” emphasizing the connectivity in global aquatic systems.