Lawns are the most ubiquitous land cover type in urban and residential ecosystems, representing a massive footprint with potential to provide ecosystem services. In general, urban landscapes often lack plant diversity due to aesthetic requirements, design, or functionality, which may increase pest abundance and management inputs, and reduce ecosystem services. Inter- and intra-specific plant diversity can have substantial effects on herbivorous insects, biological control, and plant resilience to abiotic stress. Taking advantage of the inherent benefits associated with plant diversity may provide more sustainable strategies to managing insect pests and increasing the services plants provide.
My lab is interested in how manipulating both inter- and intra-specific plant diversity in lawns can increase plant health, reduce reliance on synthetic inputs, and promote ecosystem services (like biodiversity conservation).
Doherty EM*, Meagher RL, Dale AG. 2019. Turfgrass cultivar diversity provides associational resistance in the absence of pest resistant cultivars. Environmental Entomology. 48(3), 623-632. doi: 10.1093/ee/nvz026.
Larson JL, Dale AG, Held D, McGraw B, Richmond DS, Wickings K, Williamson RC. 2017. Optimizing pest management practices to conserve pollinators in turf landscapes: Current practices and future research needs. Journal of Integrated Pest Management. 8(1): 18; 1-10. doi: 10.1093/jipm/pmx012. [PDF]