I study complex interactions between mountain pine beetle and the associated organisms it carries. Attacking mountain pine beetles carry several organisms (called phoretic) such as mites, nematodes, fungi, and bacteria. During their establishment into a tree, some of these organisms may affect mountain pine beetle success which ultimately may influence to the effect of this important disturbance agent on trees. My current research will allow a better understanding of the different phoretic organisms carried by the beetle across multiple hosts and the landscape and their effect on the fitness of this ecologically important forest insect.
I am exploring the relationships of phoretic organisms in other ecological important bark beetles in western forests, and how their relationship varies on different populations of the insects. Other topics of interests include: investigating the effects of forest insect disturbances on western forest dynamics. I consider forest insects to be an instrumental part of healthy forests and plan to investigate ways of utilizing them to help manage the next forest that has resulted from current and past decades of disturbances.
My current research is important to increase our understanding about strategies used by mountain pine beetle populations to move across different tree hosts and landscapes. I want to help understand whether phoretic organisms facilitate or hamper these movements. My findings can serve as a venue for developing new ways of controlling insects that are affecting ecologically and economically important areas. My future research is needed since we need a more comprehensive understanding of phoretic associates of our important forest insects, since we could derive a better understanding about unexplored regulatory mechanisms. It is also very important to increase our understanding about the effects of ecologically important forest insects on forest dynamics since land administrators will need to manage increasing areas of disturbance where current management practices might be too expensive or impractical to use and new approaches are desired. Altogether, we are faced with the challenge of managing a developing forest that needs to be more resilient not only to insects but to a potentially changing climate, I hope to bring new ideas and approaches to improve the health of our forests and contribute to improving the way we do it.