Past and Current Projects

Dom Henri, Ariana Tsiattilos, Owen Jones (University of Exeter)

Natural vegetation benefits synergistic control of the three main insect and pathogen pests of fruit crop in Southern Africa.

We studied the relationship between natural vegetation proximity and three types of mango pest: Tephritid fruit-flies, mango-leaf gall midges and pathogenic Fusarium spp. fungus. Pest density increased with distance from natural vegetation, and mortality due to natural enemies tended to increase with distance to natural vegetation.

Yvette Ehlers-Smith (University of Exeter)

Can bird species’ life-history traits and ecological attributes be used to predict avian responses to habitat change associated with agriculture?

I assessed how habitat structure influenced the functional traits of bird species, and whether this could provide a predictive framework for the effects that anthropogenic habitats may have on regional bird diversity. This framework also enables exploration of ways in which negative effects can be reduced.

Simone Hansen (University of Stellenbosch & SANBI)

How flower visitation networks are affected by commercial timber plantations and an alien invasive species.

I am using flower visitation networks to explore how the functional ecology of indigenous grassland species are affected by (1) commercial timber plantations and (2) the invasive species Rubus cuneifolius in remnant grassland patches within the Mondi Shanduka’s Mount Gilboa forestry estate, as well as within the Mt Gilboa Nature Reserve in the Karkloof region of the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands.

Lyndre Nel (University of Stellenbosch & SANBI)

The effects of an alien invasive plant on insect visitation and pollination of mango.

I am studying the effects that an alien invasive plant (Lantana camara) and its floral densities may have on insect visitation and pollination of mango flowers, which could influence mango fruit production through a facilitation or competition.

Lavhelesani Simba (University of Venda & SANBI)

Changes in flower visitor networks along a gradient between mango and natural vegetation.

I am using a network approach to understand how flower visitor networks change with distance from the edge between agricultural lands and natural vegetation on mango farms.

Benoit Geslin, Gaelle Legras & Morgane Folschweiller (UPMC)

Invertebrate communities at different distances from natural vegetation: surveys using pan traps.

We used different coloured pan traps to investigate invertebrate communities at different distances into the natural vegetation and into mango orchards, in both conventionally- and organically- managed mango fields.

Will Morgan (University of Exeter)

Mango gall flies, their enemies and the role of natural vegetation.

My research has focused on the mango gall fly and an important parasitoid of this pest. I have been investigating how the rate of parasitism of gall flies changes with increasing distance from natural vegetation.

Wiebke Lammers (University of Exeter)

Ceratitis fruit flies: population dynamics and spatial distributions.

I have been investigating how the density and distribution of Ceratitis fruit flies (Tephritidae) vary, with the aim of shedding light on pest fly dynamics in the mango plantations and the adjacent bushveld.

Courtney Moxley (University of Stellenbosch & SANBI)

Mango pests, their natural enemies and the role of natural vegetation.

My research questions are directed towards enhancing our understanding around the insect pest-parasitoid dynamics between the veld and the mango farms. Firstly, I am interested in the effect of the farms on the density and diversity of Ceratitisflies that emerge from marula trees (Sclerocarya birrea) in the veld. Marula is of interest because it is in the same family as  mango (Anacardiaceae), and so might share many pests and natural enemies. Secondly, I am investigating which pest and parasitoid species are harboured by native and alien plant species in the natural vegetation and farms when mango and marula trees are not fruiting.

Melissa Oddie (University of Exeter)

Wild plant diversity in mango fields and their importance to mango fruit set.

I am investigating the effects of in-crop natural plant diversity on pollination services in mango orchards, given the importance of wild pollinators for mango fruit set.

Tadhg Carroll (University of Exeter

The dangers of predation for Ceratitis fruit fly – are some places safer than others?

I investigated the relationship between predation of Ceratitis fruit fly pupae and the dynamics of the ground invertebrate assemblage within the mango orchards and surrounding natural vegetation. Specifically, I set up a field experiment and pitfall trap survey to determine the effects of distance from natural vegetation on pupae predation rates and on ground invertebrate assemblage composition.

Lucia Mokubedi (SANBI)

Lucia Mokubedi

Changes in body size of herbivorous and parasitic wasps in habitats with different degrees of human disturbance

We might expect larger-bodied insects to be more negatively affected by habitat transformation and fragmentation. I am comparing body sizes of herbivorous and parasitic wasp species from habitats in agro-ecosystems that have undergone various levels of habitat degradation. If such patterns do exist, it suggests that herbivory and/or parasitism is affected by habitat transformation.

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