George Roderick, Professor

Closed (1) Monarch butterflies in East Bay Gardens: Impacts of native and non-species on seasonality, life history patterns, and predation of Monarch caterpillars

Applications for fall 2021 are now closed for this project.

This project is focused on the residential urban gardens of the East Bay and how those gardens impact butterfly communities with a focus on the Western Monarch butterfly. The project covers topics of native and non-native plants, invasive arthropods, urban gardens, and changes in species interactions.

This project is in person and involves field-based surveys in gardens in Berkeley, Albany, and El Cerrito

Students will participate in one or both of the following:

1) Monarch egg and caterpillar population counts: Students would visit milkweed plants included in the study on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, count eggs and caterpillars on study plants, and record counts via a google form. Gardens are located in Berkeley, Albany, and El Cerrito. These counts would initially be completed with graduate student Leslie McGinnis.

2) Invertebrate predator observations and surveys: Students would assist in surveys of invertebrates in urban gardens via collection and visual observation. Students would also monitor experimental interactions between caterpillars and invertebrate predators.

Students will learn about urban ecology, conservation biology, invasive species, how to conduct ecological studies and some data analysis.

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Leslie McGinnis, Graduate Student

Qualifications: Students should have an interest in citizen science/community science, urban agroecology, and/or environmental education. Butterfly eggs and young caterpillars are very small and fragile and can be difficult to locate. Monitoring both is delicate work requiring careful attention to detail, awareness, and patience. Study plants are located in greenstrips and residential gardens and students should be aware of the hard work involved in urban gardening and respectful of the gardens and gardeners. People passing by researchers will often stop to ask questions and learn about monarchs, invasive species, urban gardening, and global change. Ideal applicants would be comfortable balancing data collection and community outreach.

Weekly Hours: 6-8 hrs

Off-Campus Research Site: Residential gardens and green strips in Berkeley, Albany, and El Cerrito

Related website: http://nature.berkeley.edu/evolab/

Closed (2) Arthropod ecology and evolution on Pacific Islands: insects, spiders, invasive species

Closed. This professor is continuing with Spring 2021 apprentices on this project; no new apprentices needed for Fall 2021.

In our lab, we are interested in the ecology and evolutionary history of arthropod (insect and spider) species. We mostly study arthropods from Hawaii and other islands in the Pacific, but also species in California and elsewhere. Some are native species, some are recent invasive species, and some are introduced for biological control. This project uses data from different sources (museum records, genetic data, stable isotopes, historical records, etc.). Possible areas of study include: interpreting recent histories of invasive arthropod populations, understanding impacts of climate change on species distributions, and resolving deeper phylogenetic relationships among species.

Working with insect or spider collections, and depending on interests, molecular genetic work, data science, GIS, mapping, climate studies.

Qualifications: No previous experience is necessary, but the student should have interests in insect or spiders, and helpful would be GIS, machine learning, or some experience with R or Jupyter notebooks, or be willing to learn!

Weekly Hours: to be negotiated

Off-Campus Research Site: On campus, Wellman and Hilgard Halls

Related website: http://nature.berkeley.edu/evolab/

Closed (3) Arthropods and the fate of root carbon in the rhizophere

Closed. This professor is continuing with Spring 2021 apprentices on this project; no new apprentices needed for Fall 2021.

The project is conducted in collaboration with scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. This is part of a larger effort designed to advance our understanding of the complex interactions controlling carbon flow in the rhizosphere - the region of soil around plant roots that is influenced by their growth, respiration, and nutrient exchange. This particular project focuses on the role of rhizosphere insects and spiders, with the goal of understanding their interactions with other elements of the rhizosphere and with each other, and hence their role in carbon cycling.

Undergraduates involved in this project would be working on the the questions of how arthropods are associated with carbon cycling, primarily focusing on morphological approaches. They will be sorting specimens (insects and spiders) in order that they can be used to understand how carbon is being transferred. The project will include opportunities to work with scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab.

Qualifications: No previous experience is necessary, but the student should have interests in the project described.

Weekly Hours: to be negotiated

Related website: http://nature.berkeley.edu/evolab/

Closed (4) Arthropod biodiversity of islands of French Polynesia and Hawaii

Applications for fall 2021 are now closed for this project.

Biodiversity surveys often accumulate many many insect and spider specimens, but it is usually hard to figure out what the species actually are. Many species are not yet described and many are found in an area for the first time, or the species are not yet in DNA databases. In this project we are trying to figure out what the species in biodiversity surveys from Pacific Islands are, especially spiders, leaf-feeding arthropods and soil arthropods. This is part of a large project to understand the origins of biodiversity in the islands of the Pacific. We are especially interested in the role of invasive species in the biological communities of these islands.

Students will be involved in natural history collections work, from samples from Hawaii and French Polynesia and those with the Essig Museum of Entomology. Tasks involve using identification tools to identify insects and spiders and use DNA data to identify species.

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: George Roderick

Qualifications: Interest in learning or prior experience in arthropod identification, GIS, machine learning, or a willingness to learn!

Weekly Hours: to be negotiated

Off-Campus Research Site: On Campus, Wellman and Hilgard Halls

Related website: http://nature.berkeley.edu/evolab/