Spatial dynamics of a complex ecological network in Mexican coffee agroecosystems
Mentor: Professor John Vandermeer
This project seeks to understand how a complex ecosystem provides ecosystem services to organic coffee production. Based on several years research, a complex system involving an ant, a fly parasitoid, a scale insect, an entomopathogenic fungus, a plant pathogenic fungus, and a predacious beetle has been studied from a spatial dynamics point of view. An REU student could become engaged in this research in a variety of ways (as have undergraduate students in the past). The project involves activities that range from computer modeling of spatial processes to surveying organisms in Mexico, to experiments involving insects or fungi. Behavioral observations can be used to instantiate many of the parameters in already existing models of the system, or new models can be envisioned associated with the many subcomponents of the system. This work would be done onsite in Chiapas, Mexico.