Connor and Donna successfully defend their dissertations!!May 2022
Huge congrats to Dr. Connor Morozumi and Dr. Donna McDermott for defending their dissertations this week! The Brosi Lab reunited in Atlanta for their defenses (both on the same day, in a “defense double header”). Connor and Donna both had amazing presentations! Connor’s dissertation focused on how plant-pollinator networks respond to perturbation, and Donna’s focused on ecology teaching assessments and social cues in bee foraging. After completing their PhDs, Connor will start a postdoc at University of Louisville and Donna will start in a faculty position in the Emory Writing Center. Well done, and we’re very proud of you both!
Incoming PhD student Annie Colgan visits UWApril 2022
We’re happy to announce that we have a new PhD student starting this fall: Annie Colgan! Annie is currently a student contractor for the USGS Rocky Mountain Science Center and is interested in ecological communities and global change. She is visiting UW and our lab this weekend to meet everyone in person and check out the UW campus and Seattle neighborhoods. We can’t wait for her to join us in the fall!
Brosi Lab featured in UW and Emory newsMarch 2022
Laura’s work on antibiotics in agriculture and bee foraging was highlighted in the UW News and Emory News last week! In the articles, Berry and Laura talked about their recent paper in Proceedings of the Royal Society B which found that exposure to streptomycin reduces bumblebee learning and foraging. Laura conducted this study in the lab and will test it in the field this spring in eastern Washington. We are very excited about this work and that it was highlighted in the UW and Emory news.
Recent papers from the Brosi LabFebruary 2022
Several lab members have recently published papers or have papers coming out soon! Loy and Berry have a new review paper in press in Ecology: “The effects of pollinator diversity on pollination function”. In their paper, they propose a new framework for diversity-function relationships, including two mechanisms in pollination systems. Loy and Berry also contributed to a recent paper in Conservation Biology, “Conserving alpha and beta diversity in wood-production landscapes,” about changes in biological communities after different types of biomass harvest. Laura, Berry, David Hofmann (in the Emory Physics Department), and Emory undergraduate Libby Dunne have a new paper out in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: “Upper-limit agricultural dietary exposure to streptomycin in the lab reduces learning and foraging in bumble bees.” Their study explored how agricultural antibiotics impacted bee learning, foraging, and stimulus avoidance. Laura will compare the results of this lab study to those in a field study this spring (see our post on Laura’s USDA NIFA grant).
First RMBL 2022 planning meetingJanuary 2022
The lab just had our first planning meeting for the 2022 RMBL season! We’re so excited to start thinking about our team and projects for this year. We will continue collecting data for our quantitative nestedness project, Kaysee’s spatial gradients project, and our snowmelt acceleration project (fingers crossed that Colorado has enough snow). We’ll also have some new pilot projects in the mix (more to come on that later!). Over the next few months, the lab will finalize the team members, travel details, and specific protocols, but we look forward to a full field season with 6-8 people at RMBL between May and August. We can’t wait to get back out there!
Laura receives USDA-NIFA grant!January 2022
Congratulations to Laura for receiving an Agricultural and Food Research Initiative New Investigator Seed Grant from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture! This year the program awarded 10 grants to support research to sustain healthy pollinator populations in agricultural settings and address the issue of pollinator declines. With this award, Laura will study the effects of broadcast-spray agricultural antibiotics on bee microbiome and foraging behavior. She will carry out lab experiments at Emory University and fieldwork at pear orchards in Washington State. This is also Laura’s first large grant as PI. Great job, Laura!
Professor Elli Theobald joins lab meeting to discuss undergrad researchDecember 2021
Teaching professor Elli Theobald joined our final lab meeting of the fall quarter to discuss how to support undergraduate students in research. Elli has thought a lot about course-based research experiences and strategies to make science education more equitable. We had a great discussion and she had many very insightful suggestions for everything from recruitment to day-to-day mentorship. We look forward to the winter quarter, when we can implement some of these practices, and we hope that Elli can join our lab meetings again in the future!
Goodbye to ManogyaNovember 2021
We’re very sorry to see Manogya leave us this week, but we wish her well on her last semester at Northeastern University. Manogya started her co-op with us in late May and was a crucial member of the RMBL field season, as well as an amazing research assistant in the lab. We will miss her infectious positive energy and her incredible work ethic. After she returns to Northeastern, she will continue working on her independent project on the effect of temperature on niche breadth using pollen metabarcoding. We are looking forward to her conference presentation in the spring. Thanks for being a wonderful lab mate, and we all can’t wait to see where you go next!
Visiting professor Mark Novak joins lab meetingNovember 2021
We were very excited to have Mark Novak join our lab meeting this week. Mark is a professor at Oregon State University studying how species interactions impact the structure of ecological communities, using mathematical models and field studies, and he is on sabbatical at UW this quarter. In lab meeting, we discussed Mark’s paper “Characterizing Species Interactions to Understand Press Perturbations: What Is the Community Matrix?” and had a fun discussion about the integration of theory and empirical data. We also discussed the variables that influence pollination events and how those can be defined as functions in a mathematical equation. It was great to have Mark join us and lead this very interesting meeting!
Insect trait measuring begins this weekOctober 2021
Our lab started measuring traits for our 2021 bee specimens! We measure the body length, intertegular distance (distance between where the wings attach to the body), and proboscis length. Daniel Lahn will be using these data for their independent project this year, and Kaysee will be incorporating these data into her dissertation. This is our first time measuring insect traits (except during a few summers at RMBL), and we’re very excited to see how these traits vary across interaction patterns and environmental gradients.
New undergraduate students join the lab this fall quarterOctober 2021
We’re very excited to have new undergraduate students Addison Keely and Greta Gunning join the Brosi Lab this quarter! Addison is a senior studying molecular biology and political science, with a minor in environmental science, and Greta is a junior studying environmental health. They will help us with our spatial gradients and Qnest projects by identifying, sorting and measuring traits for our RMBL insects, as well as learning about DNA metabarcoding of pollen this quarter. Welcome Addison and Greta!
New paper from Connor and Loy!October 2021
Congrats to Connor and Loy for publishing their paper Plant-pollinator interaction niche broadens in response to severe drought perturbations in Oecologia! They worked on this paper with fellow RMBLers Kelly Endres (a Brosi Lab alum), Amy Iler, Paul CaraDonna, Heather Briggs, Devon Picklum, and billy barr. Their paper uses a long-term dataset of floral visitation to Ipomopsis aggregata to test whether the breadth of its floral visitation niche changed in response to naturally occurring drought perturbations. They found that niche breadth significantly increased in drought years as compared to non-drought conditions, but there were no statistically distinguishable changes in community composition of flower visitors. Read the full paper here: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00442-021-05036-0.
Manogya develops independent project for co-opSeptember 2021
Since returning from RMBL, Manogya has been working on her independent project for her co-op this fall. She will use pollen metabarcoding to investigate how pollinator niche breadth changes with short-term fluctuations in temperature. Manogya will analyze samples from our repeated sampling protocol, in which we sampled a site for pollinators at different times in the same day. This repeated sampling protocol allows us to understand how abiotic factors at different times of the day impact foraging, while holding plant community and pollinator community constant. Manogya will assess niche breadth by measuring the number of pollen species on a specimen during a given foraging period via DNA metabarcoding. She plans to present her findings at Northeastern University’s undergraduate research symposium in April.
The lab starts pollen DNA metabarcoding workSeptember 2021
We’re getting the molecular side of our work going again with DNA metabarcoding of pollen. DNA metabarcoding is the process of identifying species in a multi-species sample by using genetic markers. We’re doing this with pollen that was removed from pollinators that we caught in the field. This process gives us a more accurate and complete idea of which species of pollen are being transferred and when and where these plant-pollinator interactions occur. Kaysee and Manogya have started making pollen slides to see if our samples have enough pollen. Next, we will test our equipment and supplies and start processing our pollen from the past three field seasons.
Despite smoke and COVID, participation remains high in MeadoWatch programAugust 2021
Even as the COVID delta variant surges and wildfires continue to bring smoke to Seattle, our MeadoWatch volunteers are still getting out to Mt. Rainier and collecting wildflower phenology data. We have about 90 volunteers this season, with a mix of new and returning participants, and over 100 hikes recorded so far. The volunteer coordinators, Annie Schiffer and Ava Kloss-Schmidt, have loved interacting with groups of volunteers on the trails every time that they’ve gone to collect data. We are so impressed by the volunteers’ commitment to the program, and we’ve really enjoyed getting to know the program through our volunteers. There’s still another month or so left of the MeadoWatch season, so if you haven’t gotten the chance to get out on the trails, make sure to go before the flowers are gone!