Sunday, February 28, 2010

New Member of the ALE Lab!

Hi! My name is Chelsea, and I am a new graduate student in the Agricultural Landscape Ecology Lab. I graduated from Albion College in 2009, with a major in Biology and a concentration in environmental sciences. I am studying the decline of native lady beetles in Ohio. The focus of my study includes, figuring out what is eating the egg masses of native and exotic lady beetle species, as well as, how the surrounding landscape affects predation, prey density and diversity, and parasitism.
Right now I am working on collecting egg masses from lady beetles in the lab, writing my research proposal, drinking coffee, asking Scott to order stuff for me, and preparing for the summer.

I am very excited to be a part of this lab!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Don't Count Your Lady Beetles Before They Lay Eggs

Chelsea has been doing a great job rearing lady beetles for their eggs. Each petri dish above holds a convergent lady beetle egg mass...just from today! The egg masses will be used for predation studies this year. Keep it up Chelsea!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sad Greenhouse

ALE lab: Why the long face greenhouse?

Greenhouse: Well, I have been plagued by blackouts, temperature problems, insect infestations, and the peas aren't growing as fast as I'd like.

ALE lab: Don't worry greenhouse, we're having a meeting about you this week. Everything will be fine.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Invasive plants: The Bane of Agriculture!

Barberry in an invasive plant that also serves as a host for the fungal disease stem rust, which attacks wheat.The above poster was used in the early 20th century by the US government to encourage citizens across the nation to destroy barberry in an effort to totally eradicate the plant and its negative effects on agriculture. They even had a National Rust Busters Club for children which awarded medals to eager little invasive pullers!
Our lab is starting a similar citizen science program this year, Buckthorn Watch, to deal with another invasive plant, common buckthorn. Buckthorn serves as an overwintering host for the invasive soybean aphid, which has had devastating effects on soybean fields throughout the Midwest. The aphid in turn is the main food source for the invasive multicolored asian lady beetle, which terrorizes your home every year. Look for more info on Buckthorn Watch in the coming months and you too can help us put an end to this invasive tyranny!

Friday, February 19, 2010


Four members of the ALE lab attended the Entomological Society of America meeting this year. Scott Prajzner presented his research on bee diversity within vacant lots and community gardens within urban ecosystems. Hilary Edgington (second from left) and Bethany Hunt (far right) are both undergraduate researchers in the lab. Both presented posters on their summer research focused on lady beetle conservation.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Monday, February 15, 2010

Ohio Tour 2010

I am working on organizing spring workshops for our Buckeye Lady Beetle Blitz program. I will be heading out to 7-8 locations in Ohio to recruit and train volunteers to conduct our annual lady beetle census. This year I am trying to target counties with low representation in the 2009 census, as well as counties where we will have volunteers participating again this year. The map illustrates the locations of all 168 gardens where lady beetle data were collected last year. Thanks to a great suggestion from Lauren Bailey, we are also thinking about creating t-shirts to serve as a fundraiser for the project! Hopefully I can get these made before our April and May workshops.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

It is so quiet in February

The lab is so quiet in the winter without all of our summer students around! Last summer we had two undergraduates and three high school students who completed independent research. Shana'e Davis and Kojo Quaye (pictured) were two of our high school students. I was amazed by the hard work and dedication that all our young scientists exhibited. I am really looking forward to summer!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Cabinet Beast

So Mary decided that after a year at the OARDC she should get herself organized with a file cabinet for her office. After two days of laborious building, and with the help of Dan Fickle, our information storage device was about to be a huge success. But with only two drawers left to install, Mary got too excited and the drawer became jammed in the cabinet's powerful jaws. Only with the help of our awesome problem solving skills did we finally slay the filing cabinet beast and coax it into the den of knowledge that is Mary's office.

Behind the Scenes at OARDC

In 2009 we created the Buckeye Lady Beetle Blitz video. Check it out at Producer Chris Dicus shot the video which describes how to participate in our annual lady beetle census.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Lady Beetle Census

The Buckeye Lady Beetle Blitz is an outreach program started by our lab to conduct an annual census of lady beetles across Ohio. In recent decades many species of native lady beetles have declined in the U.S. and one hypothesis to explain this is the introduction of exotic lady beetles. Exotic lady beetles may cause a decline in natives by eating their eggs and larvae or out competing them for food resources. For more information on the BLBB check out our website at: I also want to thank Sarah Gardiner for creating our lab logos!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Farming in Cleveland

The city of Cleveland, OH has over 3,300 acres of vacant land. Local citizen groups have worked to re-purpose some of this land to produce food. These sites include community gardens and market gardens, where food is produced and sold at farmer's markets. The gardeners and farmers working in Cleveland grow a huge diversity of high-quality produce. Over the past year our lab has been examining the insect community found within potential agricultural sites (vacant land) and examining how that community changes when land is converted to produce food. We are interested in understanding how the urban landscape influences the beneficial insects which contribute to sustainable food production.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

First Post

My name is Mary Gardiner and I am an Assistant Professor at The Ohio State University. My laboratory studies beneficial insects such as predators and pollinators. Our reserach focuses on the ecosystem services such as pest suppression and pollination that beneficial insects provide. We are intersted in how disturbances within the landscape such as agricultural management practices, invasions of exotic species, and land use changes influence these organisims and their services. In this blog we will post information about our research and outreach activities.