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Dan Gibson

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NameDan  Gibson
TitleGraduate Student, MS

Staff Profile:

I am interested in the intersection of agriculture and ecological restoration. Beneficial insects, which include pollinators and natural enemies (predators and parasitoids) of insect pests, can provide substantial services to agriculture, but they often require non-crop habitat to persist in significant populations on the landscape. Agricultural intensification frequently results in the loss of natural habitats in agricultural landscapes. These simplified landscapes lack plant and associated insect biodiversity, leading to reduces pest suppression and crop pollination services. Habitat management seeks to support natural enemies and facilitate their movement across the landscape. Native perennial plantings can supply nectar and pollen, stable overwintering sites and alternative hosts and prey to natural enemies. Because plants differ greatly in the quantity, quality, and availability of floral resources, potential insectary plant species should be screened to determine which insects they attract. My research seeks to identify native plant species and traits that are attractive to natural enemies of crop pests. Specifically, I am screening plants adapted to sandy-drought prone soils. By identifying and recommending only the highly attractive plants, we can maximize the habitat value to beneficial insects while minimizing installation costs. My work is part of a larger effort to optimize this method of habitat management.

Originally from central Iowa, I graduated with a B.A. in Biology and Histroy from Luther College in 2015. Although the study of human history and natural science may not seem highly related, the patterns and forces affecting human-human interactions are deeply integral in shaping past, current, and future human interactions with the natural world. Allowing an understanding of these human elements to help guide our care of the natural world can improve the effectiveness of our conservation and ecological restoration efforts. I became passionate about understanding, conserving, and restoring native ecosystems while at Luther College, nestled among the bluffs and river valleys of the Driftless Region. Outside of work, I love to fix and build things, wander the woods, play board games, or quietly paddle my kayak.