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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

John M. Sivinski

Research Leader

Dr. Sivinski served as a Research Entomologist in ARS for over 20 years, and is presently Research Leader of the Insect Behavior and Biocontrol Research Unit.

He did his graduate studies on insect sexual behavior, particularly on behavioral flexibility and the evolution of mating systems. Following his graduation from the University of Florida he moved across campus to the Insect Attractants, Behavior and Basic Biology Laboratory (now part of the Center for Medical, Agricultural, and Veterinary Entomology) where he worked as a postdoctoral associate on the acoustic courtship signals of Tephritidae such as the Mediterranean and Caribbean fruit flies. After joining ARS in 1985 as a Research Entomologist, he undertook a number of field studies on mating in tephritids and assisted in formulating quality control procedures for mass-reared fruit flies to be used in Sterile Insect Technique programs.

He subsequently became interested in the biological control of fruit flies, and devised several improvements for the mass-rearing and augmentative release of parasitoids. In cooperation with colleagues in ARS and APHIS, he tested Caribbean fruit fly-parasitoid augmentation, and has been involved with the development of this technique for the control of Mediterranean fruit fly in Central America. Along with university collaborators he coordinated an exploration for new Mediterranean fruit fly parasitoids in east Africa, and was involved in their colonization in a newly completed USDA quarantine in Guatemala. He has participated in other long-term research programs, including a decade long collaboration with Mexican scientists at the Istituto de Ecologia to study the basic ecology and behavior of both fruit flies and their natural enemies. He is a recipient of the Entomological Society of America’s "Comstock Award for Outstanding Graduate Student (SEB)", "ARS Outstanding Early Career Scientist of the Year Award (SAA)," the "Secretary of Agriculture Honor Award for Team Research," and the Florida Entomological Society’s "Entomologist of the Year Award" and is a past president of the Florida Entomological Society.


Much of his ongoing work can be characterized as "large-scale" ecology and IPM, and has been accomplished through collaborations with Martin Aluja of the Instituto de Ecologia, Veracruz, Mexico), Tim Holler and Ken Bloem (USDA-APHIS), Pedro Rendon, Guatemala (USDA-APHIS and MOSCAMED), Bob Wharton (Texas A&M University), Russell Messing (University of Hawaii), and numerous colleagues in the Florida Division of Plant Industry.

Last Modified: 5/18/2015
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