Exploring the chemical ecology of multi-trophic interactions

Month: September 2019

Herbvar Collaboration


Today we teamed up with the Eubanks lab for a sampling trip as part of the Herbvar collaboration coordinated by Will Wetzel at Michigan State University. The Herbvar project is a global collaboration to quantify the distribution of herbivory for diverse plant species in multiple ecosystems across the world. The goal of this work is (1) to assess if variability in herbivory is indeed a common feature of plant–herbivore interactions, and (2) to examine how the amount of variability and skew varies among different types of plant species, herbivore communities, and ecosystems.

The Helms and Eubanks labs are planning to measure herbivory on some of the native Texas flora across different seasons. Check back for future updates on what we find! Today we focused on Wolly Croton or Hogwart (Croton capitatus).




Morgan and John recording plant height data


Natalie measuring out the quadrats while Mackenzie, Micky, and Constance record herbivory data


Fall 2019 updates

The fall semester is off to a great start for everyone in the Helms lab. Anjel is teaching a graduate-level chemical ecology class this semester (Entomology 689). This course has both a lecture and lab portion for students to learn important concepts and get hands-on experience with techniques used in chemical ecology. It will be offered again in Fall 2020 and is open to graduate students in all programs.


Helms Lab Fall 2019



We also welcomed a new student, Natalie Aguirre, to the lab. Natalie graduated from Pepperdine University and spent a year as a Fulbright scholar at the Universidad Politecnica in Madrid, Spain. Most recently she was working for the Everglades Foundataion in Miami, Florida. Natalie will be pursuing a Ph.D. through the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB) program here at Texas A&M. For her dissertation research, she is interested in combining chemical ecology with her background in plant physiological ecology and plant pathology.



Lab lunch at the Dixie Chicken to start the semester off right



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