Nick and Dr. Helmus awarded USDA funding for spotted lanternfly

iEcoLab graduate student Nick Huron and PI Helmus were awarded funding from the USDA to continue working on spotted lanternfly research. Nick’s project, “Predicting establishment and impact of spotted lanternfly on trees across the USA,” aims to build a statistical model that explains variation in spotted lanternfly feeding preferences across plant hosts. The model will be based on plant traits and phylogenetic relationships. It will be used to predict spotted lanternfly feeding preferences on plant hosts in the United States outside of its current invaded range. Using the information from this model, Nick and Dr. Helmus will be able to build a tool to direct monitoring efforts by estimating high risk of spread areas based off of plant species found in particular regions.

The grant will facilitate publication of results as well as presentations at conferences. The grant will also be used to support not only Nick’s position in the research, but also to provide funding for an undergraduate research assistant devoted to the project.

Preliminary results: Phylogeny of SLF feeding preference

Ailanthus altissima (Tree of Heaven)










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