Ecology of plant pests and pathogens
Pests and diseases have large potential effects on crop yields and are of great concern to farmers. Increasing concerns about the environmental and public health effects of pesticides calls for a more ecological approach.
At field level, we analyse interactions between plant traits (e.g. host resistance), crop management (density, fertilizer) and pest and disease dynamics, focussing on the role crop diversification (intercropping).
At the landscape level, we study pest-natural enemy interactions underlying biological control and study how agricultural landscape context affects other ecosystem services, e.g. pollination provided by wild insects. Of special interest are invasive plant pests that cause increasing costs worldwide, due to pathogen pollution as a result of trade and travel. We thus use ecological modelling methods to characterize risk of pest invasion and analyse optimal control strategies.