Insect Ecology at NDSU The Harmon Lab


Environmental Change and Ecological Interactions

One of the most intriguing ecological challenges we face today is to better understand how species are currently shaped by their environment while predicting how those species and their interactions may change as the environment changes. We have been using aphids and their interacting species to study how such biotic and abiotic factors interact. Biotic factors include aphid interactions with the plants the aphids feed on, the natural enemies that feed on the aphids, and the symbiotic bacteria within the aphids. Abiotic factors include temperature, plant quality, UV, and others.

As an example, here is an abstract of a collaborative project we are working on along these lines.


Ecology and Behavior of Insect Pests

Insect pests of some type or another have always been a concern to North Dakota production agriculture. Our goal has been to use more "basic" ecological and behavioral studies to help us with the "applied" questions related to insect pests and the problems they create. For example, the soybean aphid is the most costly insect pest in soybean, but they can be incredibly frustrating because there is tremendous variation in when and where they are a problem. By studying the ecology of this insect, we can work to identify key factors that help predict aphid problems and help producers plan accordingly.

Please check out this web site to see some of this work that we're doing in collaboration with others.