Submission Date

7-23-2015

Document Type

Paper- Restricted to Campus Access

Department

Biology

Faculty Mentor

Cory Straub

Student Contributor

John Cherneskie

Second Student Contributor

Matthew Scott

Comments

Presented during the 17th Annual Summer Fellows Symposium, July 24, 2015 at Ursinus College.

Supported by a United States Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant (2013-02482).

Project Description

The potato leafhopper is a major pest of alfalfa. To control this pest, farmers traditionally use pesticides that can be costly and damaging to the environment. Intercropping, in which non-host plants are incorporated into the crop, and host plant resistance, in which the plant is bred for characteristics that negatively affect the pest, are two alternative pest management strategies. Both of these strategies increase leafhopper movement behavior. We hypothesized that increased movement would lead to more pest-predator encounters and reduce leafhopper abundance. This movement risk hypothesis was tested in mesocosms consisting of three plant treatments (susceptible alfalfa, resistant alfalfa, and resistant alfalfa intercropped with orchardgrass) and two predator treatments (predator-present and predator-absent). Nabis americoferus was used as the predator. Results indicate that Nabis was more effective in the resistant and intercropped resistant alfalfa than the susceptible alfalfa, as predicted by the movement risk hypothesis.

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