Lab get together for donut night: success!

Steffan lab gets together to celebrate the fall by making home-made apple cider donuts. Thanks for hosting Janet!

donut night

From left to right: Lab guests Katy Thostenson and Sagan Friant, Elissa Chasen, Janet Van Zoeren, guest Erin McMahan, Prarthana S Dharampal, and Nadia Steffan. Not pictured: Shawn Steffan (taking photo).

First Annual (2015) Steffan-Raffa trip to UW Kemp Natural Resources Station

The breakfast table was a real feast each morning! Pictured (at half the table) are Elizabeth, Michael, Jeremy, Mike, Prarthana, and Maria.

The breakfast table was a real feast each morning! Pictured (at half the table) are Elizabeth, Michael, Jeremy, Mike, Prarthana, and Maria.

20150926_141432_resized-1

Close-up of a Sarracenia pitcher in fall plumage (photo courtesy Maria Chavez).

kemp2

Wild patches of Vaccinium macrocarpon (cranberries!) growing out of moss patches in Jyme Lake.

kemp3

Cranberry uprights growing out of half-submerged sphagnum moss.

kemp4

Maria Chavez (left) and Prarthana Dharampal (right) working to extricate a large cluster of Sarracenia and sphagnum moss, without getting too wet.

kemp5

Waxy cap mushroom growing out of sphagnum moss, with ever-present cranberry vines.

kemp6

They got it…large sample of pitcher plants, cranberries, sedge, and moss. Jyme Lake in background.

kemp8

Walking back through the forest, many tiny funnel-cap mushrooms observed growing out of moist forest understory.

kemp9

Insects feeding on a resinous polypore shelf fungus. Beetle larvae can be found within the dark brown oval-shaped galleries that closely follow the mushroom’s rings.

kemp10

Common puffball (matured, lower left) and immature puffball (white, upper right).

kemp11

Darkening (ripening) puffballs in the spotlight.

kemp12

Wolf’s Milk Slime Mold. Purplish-pink fruiting bodies

kemp13

A denizen of the forest, the Tawny Grisette, in the spotlight of a sunny patch.

kemp14

Underside of Grisette mushroom cap being fed upon by two other forest denizens: a gastropod and a case-bearing moth.

kemp15

‘Turkey tail’ shelf fungi.

kemp16

Mushroom fed upon by a squirrel. We saw a red squirrel pull off a chunk and eat it like a piece of pizza. Never knew that squirrels liked to eat fungi!

kemp17

Another mushroom fed upon by a squirrel.

kemp18

Leisurely canoe ride with Janet van Zoeren, Sadie, and Maria Chavez, on Lake Tomahawk. Ken Raffa kayaking in background.

Adventures with wild cranberry!

Shane Foye and Kyle Johnson recently explored some of Wisconsin’s finest wild cranberry bogs and sites. This trip will have been the first of many – beginning to search for wild nematodes to cultivate and use as biological control agents in production sites.

Here are some of the highlights (photos courtesy of Kyle Johnson):

dense Vaccinium macrocarpon at Lone Pine Road Peatland, Jackson County

This picture shows a dense stand of Vaccinium macrocarpon growing along Lone Pine Road, in Jackson County, WI, on May 19, 2015. Notice that V. macrocarpon is the dominant Ericaceous plant and that Sphagnum moss is found growing underneath it. The relationship between the cranberry and moss is prevalent throughout Wisconsin.

 

Cranberries can grow on Sphagnum mats that extend over the surface of small lakes. Unlike most modern laboratories, this mat can easily support an entire graduate student.  A small sample (approximately 3 cubic centimeters) of this moss contained over 50 nematodes. This location, which was photographed May 21, 2015, is also habitat for carnivorous plants, such as pitcher plants and sundews.

Cranberries can grow on Sphagnum mats that extend over the surface of small lakes. Unlike most modern laboratories, this mat can easily support an entire graduate student. A small sample (approximately 3 cubic centimeters) of this moss contained over 50 nematodes. This location, which was photographed May 21, 2015, is also habitat for carnivorous plants, such as pitcher plants and sundews.

Other habitats that can support V. macrocarpon include Hemel Bog, located in Marquette County, Wisconsin. This location differs from typical V. macrocarpon habitat due to the presence of larger trees, more diverse moss communities, and larger mounds of moss called hummocks. Beneath the hummocks, a layer of peat can be found, and this layer is often many centimeters deep. Pitcher plants are also located in this habitat, which was photographed May 19, 2015.

Other habitats that can support V. macrocarpon include Hemel Bog, located in Marquette County, Wisconsin. This location differs from typical V. macrocarpon habitat due to the presence of larger trees, more diverse moss communities, and larger mounds of moss called hummocks. Beneath the hummocks, a layer of peat can be found, and this layer is often many centimeters deep. Pitcher plants are also located in this habitat, which was photographed May 19, 2015.

Visiting friends and scholars!

The Steffan lab had the great honor of hosting several distinguished friends and scholars last week (12/1-12/6) from across the globe, across Lake Michigan, and across the country.

Dr. Yoshito Chikaraishi, Senior Scientist from the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology visited Madison for our third annual isotope “summit”! He is a collaborator and pioneer in compound specific isotope analysis methods that we use to deepen our understanding of food web ecology.

Y

Dr. Yoshito Chikaraishi

We took him to Olbrich Botanical Gardens for a much needed escape from the cold.

YHE

Dr. Chikaraishi, Dr. Gaines-Day and Dr. Chasen basking in the warmth of the sun as it poured into Olbrich Botanical Gardens greenhouse.

We also had the pleasure of hosting Dr. Peggy Ostrom, Professor from Michigan State University’s Department of Zoology. We are looking forward to future collaborations with her.

YPP

Dr. Chikaraishi, Dr. Ghosh and Dr. Ostrom

We were also delighted to host Dr. Prarthana Ghosh, who will be starting as a post-doc in our lab later this winter. She recently completed her Ph.D. from University of Alabama using an integrated approach including compound specific isotope analysis and PLFA to address mercury bioaccumulation in aquatic food webs.

So great to have you all in Madison!

 

 

 

Welcome Hannah and Elissa!

We are excited to welcome Hannah Gaines Day and Elissa Chasen to the lab.  Hannah is a postdoc and Elissa is a USDA research technician, both just completed their PhDs at UW-Madison.  Hannah worked in the lab of Dr. Claudio Gratton, and her dissertation was titled: “Do bees matter to cranberry?  The effect of bees, landscape, and local management on cranberry yield.”  Elissa worked in the lab of Dr. Eileen Cullen, and her dissertation was titled: “Beyond Economic Thresholds: Incorporating Proactive Pest Management Strategies in Alfalfa Pest Management Programs for Potato Leafhopper.”  We are thrilled for the opportunity to work with them both!

Lovely day for a snowshoe!

We had some prospective students visiting last week, and one lucky prospect got to snowshoe the hypotenuse!  For those of you that don’t know what that means, we started at the closest entry to the lake from lab (the boathouse), and headed straight across the lake to picnic point.  It was snowing pretty heavily as we got started, but that didn’t stop us!

snowshoe_opt

 

Showing off our gear.  All smiles from the start.

snowshoe2_opt

snoeshoe3_opt

 

 

 

 

Full speed ahead.

 

 

 

 

 

On our way out: the point.

 

 

  

point_pic_opt 

snoeshoe4_opt

At the point. We made it!

 

 

 

 

 

On our way back: the university and the capital (look real close, and maybe use your imagination).

New paper on whether HAD has occurred in Acrobasis vaccinii

Exploring host-associated differentiation in the North American native cranberry fruitworm, Acrobasis vaccinii, from blueberries and cranberries

Abstract

The factors explaining host-associated differentiation (HAD) have not yet been fully characterized, especially in agricultural systems. It is thought that certain characteristics within a system may increase the probability for HAD to occur. These characteristics include relatively long-standing evolutionary relationships between insects and their host plants, endophagy, and allochrony in host-plant phenologies. We assessed the status of these characteristics as well as the presence of HAD in the cranberry fruitworm, Acrobasis vaccinii Riley (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae), a pest associated with blueberry and cranberry in eastern North America. We reveal the occurrence of two distinct populations of A. vaccinii that are allochronically isolated by the phenological stage of their respective host plants (cranberries or blueberries). Laboratory-reared A. vaccinii adults collected from blueberries emerge at least 1 week earlier than adults from cranberries and the antennal sensitivity of adults to host-plant volatiles differs between A. vaccinii collected from blueberry and cranberry. Despite finding characteristics indicative of HAD, we did not detect a genetic signature of HAD in A. vaccinii. These findings suggest that HAD may occur through behavioral and phenological mechanisms before there is sufficient genetic variation to be detected.

Find the complete article here: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com.ezproxy.library.wisc.edu/doi/10.1111/eea.12143/pdf