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.