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News and Updates

News and Updates

News and Updates

"Insects" calls for submissions to special issue, "Locusts and Grasshoppers: Biology, Ecology and Management"

January 15, 2020

Locusts and grasshoppers (Orthoptera: Acridoidea) are among the most serious agricultural pests worldwide. By inflicting damage to pasturelands and a wide range of crops, they jeopardize food security and livelihoods of about 10% of the world’s population. Their outbreaks, which in case of locusts can escalate to transcontinental plagues, require huge efforts of national plant protection agencies and international cooperation to control them. Being extremely adaptable to recent climate changes, locusts and grasshoppers present new challenges to researchers and pest managers. The current Special Issue addresses some of the newest insights surrounding biology, ecology and management of these ancient enemies of agriculturists.

With that, the journal “Insects” (Impact Factor 2.139) just published a call for submissions to the Special Issue "Locusts and Grasshoppers: Biology, Ecology and Management."

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The Second International Conference on Climate Change in the Sahel and West Africa

January 2, 2020

The Second International Conference on Climate Change is taking place April 1–3, 2020. This conference aims to share experiences on vulnerability issues; adaptation strategies in the fields of agriculture, livestock, forestry, water resources and fishing; and mitigation issues. More specifically, the conference is a way to:

1. Take stock of the achievements and needs in terms of research and extension in the field of climate and its impacts on the agricultural sector;

2. Create a framework for exchanges between the various actors in the field of climate and its impacts.

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The Theodore J. Cohn Research Fund: a new call for 2020 applications

December 30, 2019

The Theodore J. Cohn Research Fund was founded primarily to fund research projects in Orthoptera and the other nine orders of Polyneoptera (Blattodea, Dermaptera, Embioptera, Grylloblattodea, Mantodea, Mantophasmatodea, Phasmatodea, Plecoptera and Zoraptera) by those new to research, often as part of a master's degree or PhD, though postdoctorates may also be funded.

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Registration opens for third European Congress on Orthoptera Conservation

December 5, 2019

grasshopperAttention conservationists, grasshopper friends and nature lovers:

The registration for the third European Congress on Orthoptera Conservation (ECOCIII) has opened! This year it will be held in Leiden, the Netherlands from March 19–21, 2020. Registration can be completed online. Please remember that registration closes February 5, 2020. In case of questions, please do not hesitate to contact the coordination team at ecocIII@naturalis.nl.

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GLI, SENAVE fund regional cooperation on South American locust research and management

August 14, 2019

SENAVE conference presentersAfter 60 years of only small sporadic outbreaks of the South American locust, in 2015–17, a large upsurge led to damaging outbreaks in Argentina and Bolivia, requiring declarations of national emergencies in these countries (Medina et al. 2017). These outbreaks have continued into 2018–19, with numerous outbreaks in the Gran Chaco region of Paraguay which have now spread south in Argentina as far south as Santiago del Estero.

In response to these outbreaks, on April 8, 2019, a conference was held at SENAVE (Servicio National de Calidad y Sanidad Vegetal y Semillas) headquarters in Asuncion to discuss whether Paraguay should declare a national emergency. The conference included presentations by Hector Medina (Servicio Nacional de Sanidad y Calidad Agroalimentaria, SENASA-Argentina), Fernando Copa Bazan (Universidad Autonoma Gaston René Moreno, Santa Cruz, Bolivia), Jon Harrison (School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University), and Julio Rojas (SENAVE-Paraguay), and was attended by numerous SENAVE administrators including the Director of Dirección de Protección Vegetal, Ing. Agri. M.Sc. Ernesto Galliani.

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Mira Word post graduate review and update

July 23, 2019

researchers taking samples from a fieldThis post was written by Mira Word who completed her Sustainability M.Sc. in May 2018 in Arizona State University's Cease Lab, collaborating with the Senegalese Plant Protection Directorate (DPV).

During her time at ASU, Mira studied the interactions among farmer livelihoods, agricultural practices, soil, plant nutrients and the Senegalese grasshopper (Oedaleus senegalensis), as well as other grasshoppers in the Kaffrine region of Senegal. Oedaleus senegalensis is a non-model locust, forming swarms, migrating across national borders, and is a major pest of cereal crops in the Sahel. Prompted by her recently-published thesis paper “Soil-targeted interventions could alleviate locust and grasshopper pest pressure in West Africa”, we asked her to reflect on her time as a grad student at ASU and member of the Global Locust Initiative.

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Locust research takes guts

May 28, 2019

Locusts in a containment unitThis week the Global Locust Initiative facilitated a collaboration three years in the making. Dr. Britt Peterson, assistant professor of Biological Sciences at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE), visited the Cease lab at Arizona State University to jump start a project on gut microbiota of two Schistocerca species.

Peterson’s research focuses on insect-microbe associations and how these gut microbial communities impact host biology. With access to live hoppers at ASU, Peterson worked to culture normal flora and potential pathogens out of freshly dissected gut tissue.

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PhD Opportunity: Locust ecology and management research at Cirad in Montpellier, France

May 3, 2019

grasshopperWe're happy to present an opportunity to study locust phase polyphenism evolution through demogenetic agent-based simulations.

Cirad is seeking a graduate student with a Master of Science (or equivalent) on evolutionary ecology and modelling. Candidates with good computer science skills (particularly on C++, R, Netlogo or other object-oriented language) will be given priority. Applications (CV + motivation letter, in PDF format) are to be sent to Cyril Piou (cyril.piou@cirad.fr) (with topic «PEPPER PhD») before June 10th, 2019.

More detailed information can be found on the Cirad locust team's website.

Meet Alana Burnham, GLI's new Community Outreach Specialist

April 23, 2019

Alana Burnham with host sisterThe Global Locust Initiative recently made a new addition to its team: Alana Burnham, the program’s Community Outreach Specialist. In this position, she is responsible for many logistical and programmatic aspects of GLI’s new pilot project in the Kaffrine region of Senegal, funded by USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance. This project will test whether soil amendments to millet fields in Kaffrine, Senegal, decrease locust outbreaks, improve millet yields and increase farmer livelihoods. Burnham will spend part of her time on the ground in Senegal, recruiting project participants, sourcing and managing materials, organizing trainings, and networking with beneficiaries and stakeholders.

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Global Locust Initiative's post review of the 13th International Congress of Orthopterology

April 8, 2019

Arianne Cease and another in Agadir Morocco for the International Congress of the Orthopterists SocietyIt was fantastic to participate in the recent 13th International Congress of the Orthopterists´ Society in Agadir, Morocco — the first to be held on the African continent. Around 250 members from around the world engaged in presentations and workshops surrounding the themes of integrated pest management, forecasting and monitoring, regional integration and collaboration, conservation, ecology, neurobiology and physiology, genomics, and taxonomy. Thank you to Professor Idrissi and the rest of the ICO organizers for their tremendous hard work to make ICO 2019 a major success!

We also had a great turnout and fruitful conversations at our GLI-hosted data management workshop at the conference. As part of the workshop, we asked our invited expert panel* what the most pressing challenges with regards to data management were, and what they saw as critical future directions to be implemented. Following this, GLI members commented and asked additional questions to the panel.

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Job opportunity: FAO Team Leader of locusts and transboundary plant pests and diseases

March 15, 2019

locust swarm against blue skyRare opportunity to lead the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations' efforts in this important area. FAO is encouraging individuals to apply who have experience with IPM, transboundary pests (not just locusts!), strategic thinking and team management. The application deadline has been extended to March 31st.

Please see the job posting for Senior Agricultural Officer (Team Leader) P-5.

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Postdoctoral researcher Marion Le Gall reviews summer 2018 fieldwork

March 14, 2019

Marion Le Gall and men posing for pictureThis post was written by Marion Le Gall, a postdoctoral researcher in Arizona State University's Cease Lab.

Last summer, with Master of Science in sustainability student Mira Word having brilliantly defended her thesis and Arianne Cease in writing jail, I (Marion Le Gall) found myself the sole member of the Arizona State University Senegal field team. With that in mind, I decided that the reasonable thing to do was to craft not one, but two field seasons for myself.

At the end of July, I thus packed the material wood hutsI needed and took the long flight to Senegal. What didn’t take long was being reacquainted with the local rhythm. By that I mean that five hours before landing I still didn’t know where and who my Airbnb host was… Not to worry, in a country that prizes itself for its sense of hospitality, the famous Senegalese “teranga,” everything always seems to work out.

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Annual review of entomology update

February 27, 2019

entomology figure 1

As we discussed in earlier news posts, preventive locust management has the potential to severely reduce the impact of locust outbreaks if resources and coordination can appropriately align (Figure 1). Nonetheless, to be successfully implemented, preventive strategies are still in need of some research and further refinement. Many of the Global Locust Initiative’s partner organizations are continuously working towards improving preventive management, including some participants of GLI’s First International Conference in April of 2018.

Several of these individuals—Long Zhang, Michel Lecoq, Alexandre Latchininsky, and David Hunter—recently published an article in Annual Reviews of Entomology, Locust and Grasshopper Management, highlighting advances in preventive management and opportunities for future research and improvement. The last comprehensive review of this kind was published in 1960.

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Meet Global Locust Initiative's new interns

February 12, 2019

Global Locust Initiative interns, Braedon Kantola (left) and Teddy Gonzalez (right)Please welcome our new Global Locust Initiative interns, Braedon Kantola (left) and Teddy Gonzalez (right), who began interning for GLI in January 2019. They cannot begin to describe how enthusiastic they are to be given the opportunity of joining the GLI team to help further the development of research, partnerships and solutions for transboundary pest management.

At Arizona State University, Braedon is currently in the 4+1 Accelerated Master’s Program pursuing his Master of Sustainability Solutions along with a bachelor’s degree in sustainability with a focus on ecosystems, and a certificate in energy and sustainability. Teddy is pursuing concurrent degrees in sustainability and philosophy. In the fall, she will start a Juris Doctor degree from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law's Law and Sustainability program.

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Sustainability scientist Arianne Cease wins New Innovator Award

December 17, 2018

Arianne Cease headshotThe Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) announced today that Arianne Cease, director of the Global Locust Initiative in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, is one of nine recipients of its 2018 New Innovator in Food and Agriculture Research Award.

The purpose of the award is to invest in budding scientists in the food and agriculture field. According to FFAR, “The award recipients were selected on a number of criteria including scientific merit, innovation and a demonstrated commitment to mentoring other young scientists.”

The nine scientists win a total of $2.3 million over three years, and Arizona State University will match the funds given to Cease as a stipulation of the grant. Cease’s work explores the connections between land-use practices and locust outbreaks, and identifies and addresses barriers to sustainable locust management. The Global Locust Initiative also recently won a major grant from the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance.

“Locust plagues are a global challenge that requires a team effort to address, and I’m excited to see FFAR support our cross-sectoral, interdisciplinary and transboundary approach,” Cease said. Cease is the only scientist from Arizona to win a New Innovator Award this year.

GLI at the Entomological Society of America Meeting, Vancouver 2018

November 29, 2018

It was great to see so many Global Locust Initiative members and friends at the November 2018 joint ESA, ESC and ESBC meeting in Vancouver. There were excellent talks highlighting research advancements including another successful Orthopteroid symposium, “Orthopteroids: Small Orders, Big Ideas,” organized by Derek Woller, Hojun Song and Bert Foquet. Building off of our April 2018 GLI launch at ASU, we met new members and continued discussions for novel collaborations and approaches spanning continents and disciplines.

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Global Locust Initiative wins USAID/OFDA grant to launch pilot project in Senegal

View Source | November 28, 2018

Arianne Cease wearing gloves working in a labLocusts have afflicted humanity throughout history, with devastating consequences. It’s no surprise that locusts are one of the 10 plagues in the biblical book Exodus. These insects are species of grasshoppers that can swarm in the millions and wipe out fields of crops in the blink of an eye.

The Global Locust Initiative, an Arizona State University program aiming to study and manage locust outbreaks, recently won a half-million-dollar grant from the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (a part of the U.S. Agency for International Development). This is the first time an ASU program has been awarded an OFDA grant, according to research advancement manager Ann Marie Hess, whose dedication to this partnership and work as a research advancement manager, alongside program manager Ariel Rivers, was critical to landing the grant.

With this funding, the Global Locust Initiative team — directed by senior sustainability scientist Arianne Cease — will test whether soil amendments to millet fields in Kaffrine, Senegal, decrease locust outbreaks, improve millet yields and increase farmer livelihoods.

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Webinar discusses preventative locust management

November 8, 2018

locust swarm against blue skyOne of the differentiating characteristics between grasshoppers generally and locusts specifically is the potential for locusts to undergo what scientists call “phase change.” As part of the shift in behaviors associated with phase change, locusts can become gregarious — they group together and form massive swarms as they move across the landscape. It is no surprise then that locust scientists themselves are gregarious, in that effective management of locusts requires coordinated efforts from many different individuals, teams and organizations.

These coordinated efforts, which are essential to effective preventative locust management, are in part the theme of a recent webinar (in Spanish) presented by Cyril Piou of France’s Agricultural Research Center for International Development (CIRAD). Piou holds a PhD from Bremen University in Germany, and since 2010 he has worked as part of the Acridology Team at CIRAD, researching various themes in population dynamics, ecology, and modeling systems. Due to his experience in these areas, Piou frequently collaborates with other locust researchers, including partners through Argentina’s National Institute of Agricultural Technology (INTA), who hosted the webinar.

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Recent Webinar: Learn more about the Central American Locust

October 4, 2018

Central American locust on handTo successfully realize our work at the Global Locust Initiative (GLI), we engage globally with collaborators living and working with locusts and grasshoppers locally in their communities. Among our list of fantastic partners, we can count Mario Poot Pech of the Yucatán State Committee of Plant Health (CESVY), based in Merida, Mexico. Mario holds a PhD from the Mexican Technological University in Conkal, Yucatán and is an internationally recognized expert on the Central American locust, Schistocerca piceifrons piceifrons Walker, a significant locust pest in parts of Mexico and neighboring countries.

Mario currently represents Mexico for the Regional Organization of Agricultural and Livestock Health (OIRSA), a partnership of 9 Central American countries and international agencies. As part of their regional mandate, OIRSA facilitates a variety of activities in support of better pest management across the agricultural system. In support of these activities, OIRSA regularly hosts trainings to share information about various pests and their management. Recently, Mario participated in an educational OIRSA webinar about the Central American locust (starting at approximately 14:30).

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GLI Student Experiences: Balanding Manneh

September 20, 2018

Within all three of the Global Locust Initiative's pillars of facilitating fundamental and applied research, creating and maintaining a global network of locust practitioners, and developing local solutions to the global challenge of locust plagues, we strive to enable student success. After working in the Cease Lab and with GLI during his time as a Master Card Fellow at ASU, one of our fantastic students, Balanding Manneh, graduated with his bachelor in biology in spring 2018.

Throughout his time in the Cease Lab, Balanding offered integral support in lab and research activities, even helping with fieldwork in Senegal in 2015 and 2016. He is now pursuing a Master of Public Health at the University of British Columbia. He sent us the following update to summarize his time with the Cease Lab.

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