Dr. Robert Guralnick

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Project Title
Insect Phenology and Urbanization
Time Commitment
6-10 hours/week
Possible Co-Authorship
Project Description
Urbanization can alter plant and animal phenologies and abundances in ways that may decouple ecological interactions. Our study will assess how urbanization influences the phenology, abundance and composition of moths. Moths are ecologically important and often the primary food source of bird nestlings and peaks in caterpillar abundance can influence reproductive success in birds. Recent work hase used caterpillar frass to examine phenology and abundance of caterpillars across a season at urban vs. forested sites, finding striking differences across urbanization gradients. Our study not only extends such work to determine generalities in response to urbanization, but also has some novel methodological and experimental components. First, through DNA metabarcoding of frass, we will be able to determine composition of larval Lepidoptera across urban, suburban and natural sites. The composition analysis could provide insights into the mechanisms that explain moth phenology and abundance across an urbanization gradient. Second, we will collect adult moths to explore our urbanization hypotheses across two life stages. By collecting adult moths, we will be able to examine if adult moths can be used to predict caterpillar phenology and abundance, which would have the potential to increase the spatial scale at which the mismatch between caterpillars and breeding birds is being examined. We are looking for project technicians to assist in field data collection and molecular laboratory work.

Contact Info

Email:  rguralnick@flmnh.ufl.edu

Phone: (352) 273-1980