My work centers on basic and applied aspects of cranberry entomology and ecology. Through national and international collaborations with both public and private organizations, my team is focusing on innovative crop protection strategies. Studies are designed to refine IPM while providing a better understanding of the cranberry ecosystem.
Near-term studies focus on biological, cultural, and chemical controls of the major insect pests of cranberry, with particular emphases on 1) pheromone-based mating disruption programs; 2) phenology of Sparganothis fruitworm, black-headed fireworm, and cranberry fruitworm; 3) refinement of flood-timing as an IPM strategy; and 4) flea beetle biology and control.
Longer-term studies involve the analysis of community composition and trophic structure (the food-web) of the cranberry system. This work will allow us to measure the "trophic niches" of an arthropod community (i.e., who tends to eat whom), which may differ between cultivated and wild/feral cranberry populations, as well as between decades (an effect of climate change). Differing trophic signatures may serve as indicators of desirable horticultural traits in a cranberry population, which ultimately could facilitate the development of improved cranberry varieties.
Link to VCRU: /mwa/madison/vcru
Link to Steffan Lab in Dept. of Entomology, University of Wisconsin: http://labs.russell.wisc.edu/steffan/
Link to Dept. of Entomology, University of Wisconsin: http://www.entomology.wisc.edu