Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Wild Bees Can Be Effective Pollinators

Over the past few years, honey bee keepers have experienced problems due to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), which has hurt honey bee populations, causing some growers of fruits, nuts and vegetables to wonder how their crops will be pollinated in the future. A new study published in the Annals of the Entomological Society of America shows that wild bees, which are not affected by CCD, may serve as a pollination alternative.

In the article “Wild Bees (Hymenoptera: Apoidea: Anthophila) of the Michigan Highbush Blueberry Agroecosystem,” authors Julianna K. Tuell (Michigan State University), John S. Ascher (American Museum of Natural History), and Rufus Isaacs (Michigan State University) report the results of a three-year study which took place on 15 southwestern Michigan blueberry farms. Using traps and direct observation, the authors identified 166 bee species, 112 of which were active during the blueberry blooming period. Many of these species visit more flowers per minute and deposit more pollen per visit than honey bees (Apis mellifera L.), and most of them are potential blueberry pollinators.

“This should help growers know what kinds of bees are in the fields so that they can make informed decisions about whether they should modify crop management practices in order to help conserve natural populations of bees,” said Dr. Julianna Tuell.

Unlike honey bees, which live together in hives, most of the bees found by the authors were solitary bees that nest in the soil or in wood cavities. While soil–nesting bees may be difficult to manage, the authors see potential for cavity–nesting bees, such as several species of mason bees, to be managed by growers who can support their populations by providing nesting materials.

“Untreated bamboo or reeds are good materials because they provide natural variation in hole diameter to attract the broadest range of species,” said Dr. Tuell. “There are also a number of commercially manufactured options that growers can use, such as foam blocks with pre-drilled holes and cardboard tubes made to a particular diameter to suit a particular species of interest. Drilling different sized holes in wood is another option. If a grower is interested in trying to build up populations of a particular species, there are also details about how to do so available online.”

Besides blueberries, many of the species in this study also visit cherries, apples, and cranberries, and managed mason bees are already being used to pollinate cherry orchards.

Click here for the full text of the article.

Annals of the Entomological Society of America, which is published quarterly by the Entomological Society of America (ESA), was recently named one of the 100 most influential journals in biology and medicine over the last 100 years by the Special Libraries Association.

Founded in 1889, ESA is a non-profit organization committed to serving the scientific and professional needs of nearly 6,000 entomologists and individuals in related disciplines. ESA's membership includes representatives from educational institutions, government, health agencies, and private industry. More information on ESA is available at http://www.entsoc.org.

ESA Will be at the AMCA Meeting in New Orleans

ESA will be exhibiting at the American Mosquito Control Association's Annual Meeting in New Orleans, LA, April 5-8, 2009, to promote the ACE and BCE Certification Programs. If you are planning to attend the meeting – stop by ESA Booth #705!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Mark Moffett, First Plenary Session Speaker At Annual Meeting

The first confirmed Plenary Speaker at the 2009 ESA Annual Meeting is Mark Moffett, a Harvard-trained ecologist and self-taught photographer, and one of only a handful of people to earn a Ph.D. under the world’s most famous ecologist, E. O. Wilson. For his doctorate, Moffett spent 29 months in the field, collecting specimens and photographing ants in 14 countries. While still on expedition, he had a visit from an editor from National Geographic, who saw his images and flew to India to convince him to shoot for the magazine. Now, after working on 28 National Geographic articles, Moffett has earned some of photojournalism’s highest honors, including Best Picture and Best Story in the Picture of the Year awards.

Using the unique perspectives he gained studying insects below sea level and more than 200 feet above the forest floor, Dr. Moffett wrote The High Frontier (Harvard University Press), comparing terrestrial, marine, and microbial ecosystems and challenging prevailing trends in the field of ecology. The immediacy of his writing and the intelligence of his photography in The High Frontier make the canopy’s fantastic architecture and unearthly inhabitants accessible to the general reader. In the tradition of the great 19th-century explorers, he captures the struggles of the individual scientists and the passions that enable them to brave perilous situations in pursuit of their work.

In 2006, Dr. Moffett received the Lowell Thomas Medal—the highest honor in the field of exploration—from the Explorers Club in New York, following luminaries such as Carl Sagan, Sir Edmund Hillary, and Jean Cousteau. When not on expedition, he divides his time between staff positions at the University of California, Berkeley and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Moffett is a modern-day explorer with more than a little luck on his side. He has accidentally sat on the world’s deadliest snake, battled drug lords with dart guns, eaten grubs, scorpions, and spiders, and ascended a tree to escape bull elephants. To the stage, he brings his wealth of experience, passion, and quirky humor for an unforgettable look inside our natural world and its complex systems.

In 2007, he received the lifetime achievement award from the Science Museum of Long Island, previously bestowed on such luminaries as James Watson, the co-discoverer of the structure of DNA. Dr. Moffett has an exhibit on ants opening on May 30, 2009 at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, which will include the unveiling of the painting of Edward O. Wilson for the National Portrait Gallery. His National Geographic exhibit on frogs is currently traveling in Asia.

For the past few years, Dr. Moffett has focused on researching a book on ants due out in 2009. His work has lead to discoveries, such as the skill of Australia’s bulldog ant (Myrmecia gulosa) at catching honey bees in flight and the capacity of the Nigerian army ant (Dorylus rebellus) to mobilize horrific battles on termite mounds in which hundreds of thousands are slaughtered.

Conservation does not need to be presented as dry statistics and dismal news. Self-funded through his writing and photography, Dr. Moffett challenges himself to find new ways to tell stories about the little-known in the natural world.

He is a true explorer with countless adventures and tales from rainforest canopies and tropical locales and has been called the “Indiana Jones of Entomology” by National Geographic Radio. Don’t miss Mark Moffett’s exciting presentation on risk-taking and exploration; and prepare to be inspired by his travels and insight on entomology. No one else knows these stories firsthand or can convey them with Moffett’s enthusiasm. So get ready to be awed, and mark your calendar to join your peers in Indianapolis, December 13-16, 2009. For more information on Mark Moffet, visit www.doctorbugs.com or www.nationalgeographic.com.

For more information about the 2009 ESA Annual Meeting, click here.

Program Symposia Selected For the 2009 ESA Annual Meeting

This year, the Annual Meeting Program Committee selected eight Program Symposia. The titles are listed below, with links to more information, including symposium descriptions, objectives and organizers.

Bringing Geospatial Colleagues, Science and Ideas Together: Opportunities for Spatial Analysis and Remote Sensing in Entomology

Celebrating Stern et al. (1959): The Past, Present, and Future of IPM

Celebrating the Role of Entomology in the Genomics Revolution

Colleagues, Science and Ideas: Investigating Chemicals, Signals, and Interactions

Entomology and Bioenergy

Insect Molecular Physiology: Basic Science to Applications

Serendipity: Celebrating the Synchrony of Ideas, Colleagues, and Science in Unexpected Ways

Teaching: Ideas to Contemplate - ESA Distinguish Achievement Award in Teaching Winners