Project properties

Title <b>How does early season defence induction by omnivore insects alter insect community and plant fitness in the open field? (NEW)
Group Entomology, Laboratory of
Project type thesis
Credits 24-39
Supervisor(s) Nina Zhang, Erik Poelman
Examiner(s) Erik Poelman, Marcel Dicke
Contact info
Begin date 2024/04/01
End date 2025/12/31
Description Omnivorous insect predators have been increasingly used for biological pest control in the past decades. As omnivores, they feed both on plants and herbivore pests. The advantage of omnivorous predators is that they can establish and maintain their population by feeding on plants when prey density is low. This plant feeding can induce plant defences that negatively affect the performance of herbivores and alter behaviour of other natural enemies. Thus, the omnivores can serve dual functions in biocontrol, as predators and plant defence vaccinators. So far, most study has been performed in greenhouse crops, little is known how the omnivores and their induced plant defences shape insect community in the open field and the consequences on plant growth and reproduction (fitness).
In this project, you will study: how plant defences induced by an omnivore in the early season shape the composition of insect community in the open field and the overall consequences on plant fitness (growth and reproduction). You will monitor different insect species (including herbivores and natural enemies) on plants, measure plant traits (size, damage, numbers of leaves, flowers and seeds).
Used skills Insect community ecology, insect behaviour, behavioural ecology, trophic interactions
Requirements For doing a BSc-thesis at Entomology, there are no requirements for specific courses.
For doing a MSc-thesis or Research Practice at Entomology, the following requirements apply: ENT-30806 + a second ENT-course (preferably ENT-30306 or ENT-50806 or ENT-53806). As an alternative for the second ENT-course, PHP-30806 or BHE-30306 can be selected.
For doing an Internship, the following requirements apply: ENT-30806.
1) these requirements do not apply for MBI students;
2) MBI students should check the requirements for doing an ENT MSc-thesis, Research Practice or Internship in the study programme of their specialisation.