Abbotsford campus, B328
Phone: 604-504-7441 ext.4350email Alida
My current research is on the biological control of invasive plants depends on the assumption that insect herbivores negatively impact the population abundance of their host plant, the invasive weed. Yet, it is commonly observed that a herbivore’s impact on its host plant varies. I am interested in determining what abiotic (E.g. environmental conditions such as soil moisture) and biotic factors (E.g. predators) are influencing insect herbivory and how this ultimately impacts the host plant population. This knowledge may allow us to predict when biological control will be successful. I am presently studying the interaction between Galerucella calmariensis, a leaf-feeding beetle that was released to control the invasive weed, purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria). G. calmariensis has dramatically controlled loosestrife infestations at some locations, yet at other sites has shown minimal impact. To date, I have focused on the oviposition and adult herbivory patterns of G. calmariensis and I am using this system to study basic models of insect host plant selection.
I am also involved in an Ecological Research as Education Network (EREN) project on the effect of riparian vegetation on stream temperature. In this study, fifteen researchers from twelve institutions across North America are monitoring stream temperatures in a forested stream and a non-forested stream near their home institutions. See http://erenweb.org/project/carbon-storage-project/.
In addition to BIO 112, I teach BIO 210 Introduction to Ecology and BIO 390 Animal Behaviour. In the introduction to ecology course, students have been monitoring leaf litter decomposition and aquatic invertebrate diversity in streams with different levels of nitrate and phosphorus pollution. As part of this study, students have compared the leaf litter decomposition of native salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis ) and invasive Himalayan blackberry (Rubus discolour) leaves.