Our research focuses on forest insects, many of which become challenges when introduced to new ranges or have life cycles altered by changing climates. Our lab attempts to link patterns observed across space and through time to individual- and community-level processes. We work in forest, field, and sometimes urban contexts.

Upcoming Projects

Endemic niche of mountain pine beetle

Mountain pine beetles kills vast amounts of mature trees when at outbreak levels, but where do they go during endemic periods? What co-habiting insects might facilitate invasion to the Great Lakes region?

The spread of emerald ash borer

Detection of emerald ash borer often lags infestation by several years. How rapidly can we expect trees to die? How does that affect carbon budgets?

It is the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) that those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed. – Charles Darwin

 Current Projects

Diapause in eastern larch beetle

Eastern larch beetle has killed 800K acres  of tamarack in the past 20 years. We are studying the life cycle to determine how it is responding to a changing climate.

Resin production in tamarack defense

Conifers produce pitch to repel attacks by bark beetles. What is in the resin of tamarack? How does it vary through the growing season when bark beetles are attacking?

Chemical ecology of eastern larch beetle

Both mates and predators are attracted to pheromones of eastern larch beetles. A fantastic collaboration with Dr. Brian Sullivan of the US Forest Service.

Eastern spruce budworm

Eastern spruce budworm can be found on both mainland Minnesota and on Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior. Do the populations share similar phenologies? Natural enemies? How connected are populations?

Cold tolerance of elongate hemlock scale

Elongate hemlock scale is an invasive insect found on several conifers imported to the Great Lakes region for Christmas trees. Can scales survive local winters?

Management of spongy moth

Invasive spongy moth is managed by spraying a biorational insecticide to kill feeding caterpillars. A changing spring climate makes timing application very difficult, however.

Larch casebearer in North America

Larch casebearer is an invasive moth introduced to North America in the 1880s. Eastern populations behave differently than those in the west. We are working to determine if they are indeed the same species.

Pending Projects

The invasion of satin moth

Satin moth was accidentally introduced to North America more than 100 years ago, like spongy moth, yet has never reached similar problem status. Do prey choices by natural enemies influence its success, or lack thereof?

Nut weevils on hazelnuts

Hybrid hazelnuts are a novel crop to the upper midwest, but a suite of insects likes them as much as we do. Nut weevils can be especially problematic. How do nut weevils select their nuts? Might understanding foster better control?

Recently Completed Projects

Dispersal of mountain pine beetle

Outbreaks produce gazillions of beetles. We characterized how far you can catch mountain pine beetles away from pine trees, which informs range expansion. Hint: a long way!

Host range expansion in mountain pine beetle

Mountain pine beetle threatens range expansion to eastern North America. We examined if it could reproduce in cut logs of pine species native to eastern North America.

A few other recently completed projects:

And more...