With support from the Center, five graduate students and one undergraduate explore the effects of hedgerows on native bee distribution, cacao production in Sulawesi, floral resource provisioning as arthropod pest control in vineyards, and discrepancies in funding allocated to agroecological as compared to conventional farming systems research and development:
Hillary Sardiñas and Kathleen Tom
Quantifying Native Bee Movement in On-Farm Enhancements
Pollination represents an essential ecosystem service, and bee pollination makes up an important part of that service, however, agricultural intensification threatens pollinators that support agriculture. Hedgerows of native vegetation present a potential mitigation to this problem of habitat loss in agricultural areas. However, farmers are concerned that hedgerows attract bees away from crops instead of acting a source of pollinators to their fields. To help answer this question, our study tracks the movement of native bees between hedgerows and adjacent sunflower fields to ultimately determine whether hedgerows encourage native bee penetration into crops. We will quantify the effects of hedgerows on native bee distribution by marking and releasing bees at the hedgerow and comparing counts of observed and caught marked bees at various locations throughout the field.
Socioecological Resilience and Cacao production in Sulawesi, Indonesia
Since the late 1980s, more hectares of land have been converted to cacao production in Sulawesi, Indonesia than anywhere else in the world. Yet, just 15 years after cacao production began in earnest in many parts of the island, small farmers are suffering substantial production losses from pests, pathogens and erratic weather. Using informal interviews and participant observation in four villages in Southeast Sulawesi, I am learning about how farmers manage their land in light of these uncertainties. My goal with this summer research is to develop a long-term plan to study socioeconomic and ecological resilience in this landscape
How do changes in biodiversity at multiple spatial scales influence biological control of arthropod pests in North Coast wine grape vineyards?
My research broadly explores the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem service provisioning in agriculture. More specifically, my dissertation project will evaluate how changes in biodiversity at multiple spatial scales influences biological control of arthropod pests in North Coast wine grape vineyards. Previous studies have shown that the area and diversity of natural habitats _surrounding _an agroecosystem (landscape diversity) can influence biological control of pests. Similarly, additional studies have demonstrated that increasing habitat diversity _within_ an agroecosystem (on-farm diversity) can also influence biological control of pests. As such, it is thought that the ability of on-farm habitat diversification to enhance biological control may be contingent upon the type of landscape within which the farm is situated. This study will evaluate the performance of a specific on-farm habitat diversification practice (floral resource provisioning) in 25 vineyards situated in different landscapes (ranging from low to high diversity). The goal of this study is to determine thresholds of landscape diversity within which the use of floral resource provisioning most effectively enhances biological control of pests.
Albie Miles and Liz Carlisle
Comparing public funding allocated to agroecological as compared to conventional farming systems research and development
Biologically diversified farming systems have been shown to outperform conventional agriculture across a wide range of globally important ecosystem services despite receiving a small fraction of national and international research and development funding. Given the centrality of agriculture to the maintenance of environmental quality and human health, there is a need for an accurate quantitative summary of research and development support to communicate to policy makers, academics, and the general public the value of ecologically based agriculture and its relative neglect in pubic investments. The goal of our research is it quantify the amount of national and international public funding allocated to agroecological as compared to conventional farming systems research and development. Data will be derived from databases of key USDA an international agencies for the years 1981, 1991, 2000 and 2011.