Insect Ecology at NDSU The Harmon Lab















Environmental Change and Ecological Interactions

One of the most intriguing ecological challenges is understanding how the environment shapes species while predicting how those species and their interactions may change as their environment changes. We have been using aphids and their interacting species to study how 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.



Published work in this area:

Burdick, SC, DA Prischmann-Voldseth, and JP Harmon. 2015. Density and distribution of soybean aphid, Aphis glycines Matsumura (Hemiptera: Aphididae) in response to UV radiation. Population Ecology 57:457-466.

Whalen R and JP Harmon. 2015. Temperature alters the interaction between a herbivore and a resistant host plant. Arthropod-Plant Interactions 9:233-240.

Meisner MH, JP Harmon, and AR Ives. 2014. Temperature effects on long-term population dynamics in a parasitoid-host system. Ecological Monographs 84:457-476.

Abbott, KC, JP Harmon, and NS Fabina. 2014. The challenge of predicting temperature effects on short-term predator-prey dynamics. Population Ecology 56:375-392.

Harmon, JP, BT Barton. 2013. On their best behavior: how animal behavior can help determine the combined effects of species interactions and climate change. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1297:139-147.

Whalen, R and JP Harmon. 2012. Rag1 aphid resistant soybeans alter the movement and distribution of soybean aphid (Hemiptera: Aphididae). Environmental Entomology 41:1426-1434.

Harmon, JP, NA Moran, and AR Ives. 2009. Species response to environmental change: Impacts of food-web interactions and evolution. Science 323:1347-1350.







Ecology and Behavior of Insect Pests

Insect pests are a constant concern to North Dakota agriculture. Our goal has been to use insights from "basic" ecological and behavioral studies to help us answer "applied" questions about 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 of tremendous variation in when and where they are a problem.

Recently, we have been part of an inter-disciplinary team interested in the “whole system” effects of soil salinity, including how pest insects respond to salinity problems in agroecosystems. 



Published work in this area:

Eichele, JL, J Dreyer, R Heinz, S Foster, DA Prischmann-Voldseth, JP Harmon. 2016 Soybean aphid response to their alarm pheromone E-β-Fernesene (EBF). Journal of Insect Behavior 29:385-394.

Butcher, K, AF Wick, T DeSutter, A Chatterjee, J Harmon. 2016. Soil salinity: A threat to global food security. Agronomy Journal 108:2189-2200.

Ganehiarachchi, GASM, KM Anderson, JP Harmon, and MO Harris. 2013. Why oviposit there? Fitness consequences of a gall midge choosing the plant's youngest leaf. Environmental Entomology 42:123-130.

Ballman, ES, K Ghising, DA Prischmann-Voldseth, and JP Harmon. 2012. Factors contributing to the poor performance of a soybean aphid parasitoid (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) on an herbivore resistant soybean cultivar. Environmental Entomology 41:1417-1425.

Ghising, K. J. J. P. Harmon, P. B. Beauzay, D. A. Prischmann-Voldseth, T. C. Helms, P. J. Ode, and J. J. Knodel. 2012. Impact of Rag1 aphid resistant soybeans on Binodoxys communis (Hymenoptera: Braconidae), a parasitoid of soybean aphid (Hemiptera: Aphididae). Environmental Entomology 41:282-288.

Werling, B. P., J. Harmon, C. Straub, C. Gratton. 2012. Influence of native North American prairie grasses on predation of an insect herbivore of potato. Biological Control 61:15-25.  







Grassland Pollinators

Pollinators are a crucial part of healthy ecosystems, but they are often challenged to the point that more species are being considered threatened or endangered.  This is particularly true in the remaining grasslands of our region.  It is vital that we better understand these species and how management and conservation can help protect their ecological services.



Published work in this area:

Solga, MJ, JP Harmon, and AC Ganguli. 2014. Timing is everything: An overview of phenological changes to plants and their pollinators. Natural Areas Journal 34:227-234.

Harmon, JP, AC Ganguli, and M Solga. 2011. An overview to pollination in rangelands: who, why, and how. Rangelands 33(3):4-8.

Ganguli, AC and JP Harmon. 2011. An introduction to the special issue on pollinators. Rangelands 33(3):3.