KSEF RDE: A Molecular Approach to Elucidate the Role of Invasive Mollusk Pests in Kentucky Agriculture

  • Harwood, James (PI)

Grants and Contracts Details


With the recent increases in global trade, coupled with international trade agreements that facilitate the intercontinental movement of cargo, the introduction of exotic gastropods continues to pose serious economic problems in North America. Currently, there are over 80 exotic snail and slug species established in the U.S. and many pose significant threats to horticultural and agricultural industries. Major crops in Kentucky susceptible to slug damage include hay, corn, soybean, tobacco and wheat. Therefore, accurate documentation of the mollusk fauna is required, including the identification of new species, and the elucidation of food web structure, leading to management recommendations that can be used to reduce their impact on the diverse agriculture of Kentucky. The principal objectives of this multi-disciplinary research project are to elucidate the strength of trophic linkages within agricultural food webs, in order to understand how these interactions could affect predation dynamics and pest population growth. Specifically, we are requesting monies to develop innovative molecular approaches to mitigate the effects of invasive mollusk pests on commodities of economic importance to both Kentucky and elsewhere in the US. This proposal will contribute to understanding how behavioral processes are associated with patterns of arthropod population dynamics. Our research also addresses important priorities in US agriculture through its focus on how predators influence the dynamics of key pests of major agricultural crops. As we understand how generalist predators interact with mollusks we can give producers more refined control recommendations and help identify alternative production practices. The research involves integrating molecular tools within ecological field research in order to examine specific hypotheses relating to the impact of natural enemies on pest population dynamics. Since generalist predators are common constituents of most agroecosystems, molecular detection systems offer great potential for identifying multiple predator-prey interactions in the field and can elucidate trophic linkages under natural field conditions.
Effective start/end date7/1/086/30/11


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.