Effectiveness of vegetation and habitat characteristics as predictors of insect parasitoid populations
Climate change, land development, invasive species, and other disturbances can alter the composition, structure, and functions of native vegetation across landscapes. These disturbances also impact insect parasitoids, which are a key, and often overlooked, component of biodiversity. By their ability to control other insect populations, they are integral for fostering resilient and functional forests. Understanding and monitoring vegetation structure and composition and how it relates to parasitoid populations will help to quickly detect, measure, and forecast negative changes to forest ecosystems. This research will explore the link between plant and parasitoid populations across forests of different successional stages and disturbance regimes to provide (1) a strong basis on which to create and improve ecological restoration and rehabilitation programs and (2) data on the relationship between vegetation and parasitoids to identify and detect the effects of future disturbances and cascade effects on animal species as part of regular, long-term management of forests. This is especially relevant in Ontario as invasive species, such as the emerald ash borer (EAB), Agrilus planipennis Fairmaire (Coleoptera: Buprestidae), continue to spread rapidly throughout the province having detrimental impacts on forests across the landscape.