Thematic Focus: Collaborative Research - Plants, Herbivores, and Parasitoids: A Model System for the Study of Tri-trophic Associations

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Plants, Herbivores and Parasitoids: A Model System for the Study of Tri-Trophic Associations

Project Summary

All the nearly 20,000 plant species in North America are attacked by insect pests, including those in the group Hemiptera (known as the “true bugs”), which are in turn attacked by parasitoid insects in the Hymenoptera (e.g., sawflies, wasps, ants), widely used for biological control of agricultural pests. This project will unify some eight million records in 34 collections to answer how the distributions and phenologies of the plants, pests and parasitoids relate to each other, in a Tri-Trophic Databasing and imaging project – the TTD.

Data from this approach will benefit basic scientific questions and practical applications in the agricultural sciences, conservation biology, ecosystem studies and climate change and biogeography research.

Technological tools and methods will be introduced to graduate students, affiliated universities, and grant-sponsored students from other institutions through a short course. A data-mining and species-distribution modeling symposium at the University of California-Riverside will foster interactions between systematics and ecological researchers, and explore the TTD as a platform for instruction and inquiry.

Project Leadership

Project Lead PI (Lead Principal Investigator): Randall T. Schuh, American Museum of Natural History

Co-PIs: Richard Rabeler, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; Charles Bartlett, University of Delaware; Robert Naczi, New York Botanical Garden; Robert Magill, Missouri Botanical Garden; Christiane Weirauch, University of California, Riverside; Benjamin Normark, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

NSF Award Number


Project Website

Project Collaborators

Bishop Museum
California Academy Of Sciences
California Department of Food and Agriculture
Canadian National Collection
Carnegie Museum
Colorado State University
Cornell University
Eastern Michigan University
Illinois Natural History Survey
Iowa State University
Kansas State University
Miami University
Mississippi State University
Missouri Botanical Garden
New York Botanical Garden
North Carolina State University
Oregon State University
Texas A&M University
University of California – Berkeley
University of California - Davis
University of California – Riverside
University of Colorado
University of Delaware
University of Illinois
University of Kansas
University of Kentucky
University of Maine
University of Massachusetts
University of Michigan
University of Minnesota
University of Texas
University of Wisconsin