We are excited to welcome forest entomologist and ecologist Dr. Justin Gaudon to rare and to the University of Waterloo, as the Mitacs Elevate / Westfall Postdoctoral Fellow over the next two years. Justin recently completed his Ph.D. in Forestry at the University of Toronto, where he studied the biology and ecology of North American natural enemies attacking the emerald ash borer (EAB), an important invasive beetle that has severely impacted forests in Canada and the United States. Justin will help rare restore EAB-infested forests, and his specific goal over the next two years is to explore the link between plant and insect populations across different habitats. He will also compare vegetation sampling methods currently used as part of rare’s long-term monitoring program to determine the most cost-efficient sampling protocols for continued use, without sacrificing valuable information being collected about our forests. Justin’s main project will link insects to specific vegetation and habitat characteristics, which will be particularly useful to predict insect abundance, diversity, and impact in a given area. For example, understanding the relation between vegetation and the abundance and diversity of parasitoid wasps, which are important natural enemies of pest insects, could provide a vegetation conservation target that can maintain and enhance parasitoid populations and their diversity.
For the spring and summer of 2019, Justin will deploy Malaise traps throughout the rare reserve to sample insect populations. These traps resemble tents and are made of netted material; if you see them, please do not touch them. These traps are collecting important information that will help shape our future forests on the reserve.
Overall, this work will contribute to establishing and conserving forests that are resilient to non-native forest insects. Justin’s work is especially valuable in response both to numerous existing disturbances and to emerging threats such as climate change, and will ultimately help to ensure that rare’s promise made to protect important greenspace in perpetuity is a promise kept.
By Justin Gaudon
Justin will be regularly sharing his work on Twitter. Please follow him at, @JustinGaudon for updates, or contact him by e-mail (Justin.Gaudon@raresites.org) for any questions you may have.