We are in the Dept of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and Dept of Entomology at Cornell University. Our lab studies the ecology and evolution of plant-insect interactions, including aspects of herbivory, community ecology, defense theory, phenotypic plasticity, Chemical Ecology, and coevolution. Research projects include work on local biodiversity, invasive species, milkweeds, and Monarch butterflies. See also the Cornell Chemical Ecology Group.

Katie, Patty, Tobias, Anurag, Lina, Jacob, and Amy (summer 2016)

 

Early reviews & events: Monarchs and Milkweed

Monarchs and Milkweed is now available, although the official release date from Princeton University Press in April 11. On Saturday April 8th, I will be participating in the San Antonio Book Festival.  Early reviews have been positive (thank you!), including a whirlwind summary in the Washington Post, which emphasizes conservation issues and my argument that milkweed limitation is not driving the decline of monarchs.  On the left… Read more

Gordon Conference – Cornell connections

The women of Cornell’s plant-herbivore group (Jennifer, Natasha, Zoe, Katja, Katie, Lina, and Aino) recently returned from the plant-herbivore interactions gordon research conference. Pictures below by Jennifer Thaler.  As usual, Jennifer described the GRC as a love-fest, seeing old friends and meeting new colleagues.  Especially fun for those in attendance (I was home looking after the family) were all of the… Read more

The importance of academic service in research communities

Nature walk at Jennings Pond: scientists, graduate and undergraduate students get together a few times a year to learn about nature in the Finger Lakes. By Lina Arcila Hernández and Katie Holmes In recent conversations mulling over the history of science, we’ve talked about a shift in the social environment that scientists     experience. It seems that historically, scientific… Read more

Jigsaw #3 – Specialists vs. Generalists

Paul Feeny visiting our lab group meeting in the Fern Room, 4th floor of Corson hall. Last week in the Plant-Interactions-Group we had our 3rd JIGSAW session. Our topic was specialists vs. generalists in plant-herbivore interactions.  I was inspired to cover this topic because it is a persistent issue, one that has been discussed widely in ecology for decades. Are… Read more

The oldest butterfly?

It’s unclear when humans became humans.  Presumably it was a gradual growth of our consciousness over the eons.  There are some things, however, that appear to distinguish us from most other animals.  For example, our artistic depictions.  From the deepest, darkest caves have emerged pictures of humanity from thousands of years ago.  And in an Egyptian tomb, that of Nebamun,… Read more

Winter Walk 2017 #2

Cold and crisp among the antique hemlocks. Over a hundred years old and certainly over a 100 ft tall. Last week, late in February, it was nearly 70F in Ithaca, NY.  Buds were breaking, as were temperature records.  I heard a lecture yesterday that projected that this spring would be 2-3 weeks early compared to 2012, which previously held the record as the… Read more

Monarch population size over winter 2016-2017 announced!

The estimates of the monarch butterfly overwintering population were announced Thursday February 9th by WWF Mexico.  The butterflies are so dense at their dozen or so mountain-top clustering sites that overwintering butterflies cannot be counted.  Instead, the area of forest that is densely coated with butterflies (at about 5,000 butterflies per square meter looking up into the canopy) is estimated… Read more

PIG: The jigsaw experiment

Cornell’s Plant-Insect Group, affectionately known as PIG, has been meeting for weekly discussions every semester for at least 12 years.  In the old days, Paul Feeny and Dick Root would join us for inspiring discussions, merging the past with the future.  These days, the Ithaca group, digitally connected with folks in Geneva, NY, is frequently a gaggle of over 30… Read more

Where do monarch butterflies come from?

The plight of monarch butterflies is often in the news and many scientists around the world are working hard to understand their annual migratory cycle.  How do the monarchs produced during summer in the northern reaches of America contribute to the overwintering population in Mexico?  The origins of monarch butterflies that make it to Mexico has been hotly debated and… Read more

Winter Walks 2017 #1

Eurosta solidaginis, the goldenrod gall fly, a tasty treat for vertebrates, made sweeter by the winter cold — sugar is the anti-freeze. Photo by Katie Holmes. Winter Walks are a tradition of the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department at Cornell University, started by Professor Peter Marks in the 1970s.  Winter walks grew out of the teaching of Plant Ecology field labs… Read more

Monarch book!

My new book, Monarchs and Milkweed, a highly illustrated popular science book will be available in late March from Princeton University Press.   Here is what Carl Safina, author of Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel, says: It’s impossible to imagine the world without monarch butterflies. But they face mounting challenges. This clear, fact-packed book looks at this astonishing and… Read more

Welcome to the new lab page!

Hi folks! Welcome to the revised landing page, with the added benefit of blog posts.  You’ll see posts related to interesting ecology and evolutionary biology, monarch butterflies, and and our plant-insect interactions weekly discussions here.  For this first post, I simply want to let you know that past “Lab News” back to 2009 can be found here.… Read more