Becky's page

My research focuses on pest control in broccoli on California's Central Coast. Cabbage aphids (Brevicoryne brassicae) are a major pest of broccoli and can be controlled by natural enemies if not disrupted by pesticides. The goals of my research are to identify factors enhancing natural means of pest control, and to quantify the pest control service provided by natural habitat near agriculture.  The first goal, understanding the provision of natural pest control, will help reduce the use of toxic materials in agricultural production.  Pesticides present a serious threat to human, wildlife, and ecosystems. Enhancing communities of the natural enemies of agricultural pests could curb our dependency on these chemicals while providing a much more sustainable means of pest control. The second goal, quantifying pest control services, encourages better stewardship of the land.  By explicitly testing how well natural enemies contain pest populations and pest damage in landscapes with different proportions of natural habitat, I will be able to quantify the pest control service provided by natural habitat near farms and calculate the value of that service to crop production. My research thus aims both to make agriculture more sustainable and to promote conservation through economic valuation of ecosystem services.