Agriculture, urban, and natural environments are severely affected by invasive plants, arthropods (and other animals), and disease-causing organisms. Management of these pests is essential to preserve the economic and ecological future of Hawai'i and the Pacific Basin. Societal concerns about protecting our natural resources and the environment have resulted in a drive to reduce dependance on the use of pesticides, and instead focusing on biological control, integrated pest management, cultural, traditional, and genetically based methods of suppressing invasive species.
Hawaii's location in the Pacific basin provides students with an ideal setting for tropical pest management and environmental studies. The unique island ecosystem includes many cropping niches from humid tropical environments to arid temperate conditions. In addition, the multitude of agricultural and landscape plants produced provides a natural laboratory to study a diversity of urban and agricultural environments. The multicultural aspect of the human population further adds to the intriguing plant, human, and pest interactions that are a part of the PEPS academic and research program. Hawai'i is also home to an impressive proportion of endemic species, and exploring, analyzing and protecting that endemic biodiversity is an important focus addressed by our department.
The movement of people and goods throughout the Pacific Region can have unintended consequences, including the dispersal of organisms outside of their natural range. These invasive species can negatively impact agriculture, the natural environment, animals, and even human health. The University of Hawaiʻi's Agrosecurity Laboratory works closely with state and federal regulators, fellow scientists, and other relevant stakeholders to prevent the introduction of invasive species, detect incipient populations, and help manage established pests and diseases affecting Hawaiʻi's agriculture.
INSECT SYSTEMATICS AND BIODIVERSITY
The Rubinoff Lab conducts research on a broad range of insects across a diversity of fields including evolution, ecology and conservation. We work on questions involving the preservation of endangered species in Hawaii and elsewhere, but also work to mitigate the damage caused by invasive species and agricultural pests. Our lab uses genetic and genomic techniques to understand the evolution, ecology of native and invasive insects and to improve the conservation of rare species. Most projects have both laboratory and field components which can mean hiking through the rainforests of Kauai one day and analyzing genomic data in the lab on another.
INSECT ECOLOGY AND IPM LAB
Our lab conducts research on invasive insect species, with an emphasis on management using biological control; impacts of invasive insects on Hawaiian flora; and a number of other insect-ecology questions.
PLANT BACTERIOLOGY - ARIF LAB
Our group is using ‘omics’ technologies to understand the disease epidemiology. We are working on plant microbiome, population genetics, interactions and comparative genomics. Also, we develop novel isothermal and lab based protocols for applications in routine diagnostics, biosecurity and microbial forensics.
POLLINATOR ECOLOGY LAB
Dr. Mogren's lab is concerned with how dietary diversity and nutrition affect the health of honey bees, and how environments may be enhanced to promote healthier pollinator communities. Honey bees face many stressors, including parasites, diseases, and inadequate access to quality forage resulting from urbanization and agricultural development. Yet in both of these areas, we have a vested interest in promoting healthy bees. Our lab conducts applied research to address these needs.
APPLIED INSECT ECOLOGY LAB
Research in Dr. Shikano's Lab aims to leverage basic knowledge of insect behaviors and ecology to develop novel pest management tactics and reduce chemical insecticide use. We focus on major pest insects of fruits and vegetable crops in Hawaii.
URBAN AND MEDICAL ENTOMOLOGY LAB
Dr. Jia-Wei Tay's lab conducts applied research to develop integrated pest management programs to manage pest populations of medically important insects and of insects adapted to the urban environment. Our lab uses laboratory and field studies to discover how the behaviors of urban insects can be manipulated to develop novel strategies that improve management and protect the environment.