Project Details


In the face of relentless suburban build-out and a changing climatic regime, New Jersey is fighting a growing battle to protect its natural resource base. Both that reality and the challenges it represents have parallels at national and international levels, and this proposal is partially addressed to a pair of broader challenges:Relative to Global Food Security and Hunger, we will be working on the dangerous spread of insect pest resistance to Bt-toxin, on which vast plantings of (New Jersey, national, and international) agricultural crops depend. The available population theory is (at best) inadequate, and reliance on it is creating some serious agricultural problems. Working with a French/African team, working on Bt-maize and the emergence of Bt-resistance in its natural pests, we are elaborating the theory and identifying the problems, which should lead us toward less vulnerable GMO-deployment practice.Relative to Climate Change, the planet's biota is moving rapidly in response to a shifting planetary climate regime. There are obvious shifts of planet-wide biota toward both poles, but the detailed biogeographic movements of the organisms on which humanity depends are more complicated and less understood than anyone would like. If we are to have any hope of 'steering' or 'adapting to' the movement of that planet-wide biota, in the face of ongoing climate change, we need to understand what we are doing. We have ongoing studies of genetic markers, morphology, climate, and geography in South America, and with French and Argentine colleagues, we are developing new methods for both mapping and forward projecting (through time and changing climate) what to expect of both the shifting geographic range and the biological correlates of that shift.More broadly, this proposal is focused on the connection between genetic diversity and pattern, as a reflection of underlying demographic and ecological factors, playing out across both extended geography and evolutionary time. We will also mount efforts to relate genetic exchange to genetic outcomes; in short, (exchange) yields (pattern), but so what? It is also possible to map a phylogenetic tree on to underlying environmental variation; given genetic and/ or morphological data, we can make a taxonomic tree, but what (if anything) is that telling us about the forces driving evolutionary divergence? Finally, we are in the midst of a massive revolution in genetic assay methods. That will yield long term explanatory payoff, provided that we can harness the new information and 'mesh' it what has gone before. We are also elaborating statistical and diversity methods that should allow us to translate freely among genetic markers of several different types, basically establishing 'convertible currency' for productive analysis.
Effective start/end date12/1/1411/30/19


  • National Institute of Food and Agriculture (National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA))


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