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News and Updates

News and Updates

News and Updates

Graduate student opportunities to start Fall 2021!

October 15, 2020

logos for Global Locust Initiative and Bug Guts LabSouthern Illinois University Edwardsville & Arizona State University

Part of the Behavioral Plasticity Research Institute (BPRI)

BPRI is an NSF-funded virtual institute consisting of a group of like-minded teacher-scholars with diverse disciplinary expertise from six institutions. The BPRI uses locust phase polyphenism as a model system to transform the way phenotypic plasticity is studied by linking sub-organismal processes to the whole organism, populations, and ecosystems, and ultimately to the tree of life.

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Universities collaborate to create new Behavioral Plasticity Research Institute (BPRI)

October 15, 2020

ASU to join six other universities to create an institute to better understand locust phase change.

As a formidable ecological force, locusts have a long history of devastating crops and causing food insecurity throughout history and around the world. A secret to their success—dubbed phase polyphenism—is a textbook case of phenotypic plasticity where an individual can modify its phenotype in response to a changing environment. Locusts can capitalize on times of plenty by altering their morphology, physiology, and behavior as they shift from a cryptic and solitary lifestyle to a mobile and gregarious one. This ultimately results in the dramatic outbreaks with swarms of billions of individuals we are seeing currently on multiple continents.

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Taming locusts in Senegal: Working with communities, empowering women

October 14, 2020

Locusts are a major pest in many parts of the world, damaging plants and livelihoods. Senegal is one such place; farmers constantly battle migrating swarms of the local Senegalese grasshopper.

Led by Associate Professor Arianne Cease from the School of Sustainability and funded by USAID, the Global Locust Initiative went to Senegal — an area where they’ve been working since 2016 — to see if changing crops’ nutrients would deter locusts and to work with local communities and organizations to monitor and manage locust numbers.

The initiative, part of ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability and Innovation, is devoted to researching the complex problem of locusts and finding solutions alongside local collaborators.

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Read latest issue of Metaleptea

Metaleptea (Vol. 40, Issue 3) | September 22, 2020

The latest issue of Metaleptea (Vol. 40, Issue 3), the Newsletter of the Orthopterists’ Society, is published and available to read! It features upcoming events, announcements, regional reports, and recent research. Locusts are a key feature, including the announcement of the Behavioral Plasticity Research Institute (BPRI) — a newly funded NSF Biology Integration Institute, updates on outbreaking locusts species from South Asia to Brazil, and a new paper in the works about how spatiotemporal hierarchy improves locust outbreak models.

Read the whole issue.

Locust outbreaks increase with two additional species in Southern Africa and China

September 11, 2020

New outbreaks of the African Migratory Locust (Locusta migratoria migratorioides) and the Yellow-spined Bamboo Locust (Ceracris kiangsu) are causing concern in addition to the ongoing outbreaks of the Desert Locust and South American Locust.

Southern African countries have launched an emergency response to outbreaks of the African Migratory Locust which, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), is threatening the food security and livelihoods of millions of people in Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. These outbreaks are smaller and separate from the Desert Locust (Schistocerca gregaria) emergency in eastern Africa and southwest Asia. Compounding effects of a 2019 drought and the COVID-19 pandemic are reported to make the food and nutrition security issues more acute.

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Like marathon runners, locusts carbo-load before a long journey

ASU Now | August 14, 2020

A study published Aug. 2 in the Journal of Animal Ecology finds that migrating locusts carbo-load before flying up to 350 kilometers in a single night.

Marion Le Gall, an assistant research professor in the Global Locust Initiative in the Global Institute of Sustainability and Innovation, conducted a locust field study in 2017 in Senegal.

Her findings showed that Mongolian locusts did better in overgrazed pastures than in a normal pasture. Co-author and sustainability scientist Arianne Cease tied this to the nutritional content of plants: Land that was overgrazed contained less nitrogen and plants were more sugar-based. That was good for the locusts.

The abstract follows.

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Join us for a webinar: The International Locust Crisis

View Source | July 22, 2020

On World Humanitarian Day, and as part of a week-long series of events for Entomology Advocacy Week hosted by the Entomological Society of America, Dr. Arianne Cease, Director of the Global Locust Initiative at Arizona State University, and Dr. Shoki Al Dobai, Locust and Transboundary Plant Pest Team Leader of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, will discuss current global efforts to enhance the capacity for sustainable locust management and the ongoing international efforts to manage the Desert Locust crisis occurring in the Horn of Africa, the Middle East, and Southwest Asia.

The webinar, The International Locust Crisis, will be held on Wednesday, August 19. Register through the Entomological Society of America.

Open research position in entomology and ecology at the USDA-ARS in Sidney, MT

May 26, 2020

The Global Locust Initiative would like to pass along this job opportunity with the United States Department of Agriculture - Agricultural Research Service:

The USDA-ARS is seeking a permanent, full-time entomologist or ecologist as lead investigator in one of the following two areas: 1) Applied modeling, spatial analysis, and forecasting of rangeland and crop insect pest distribution, outbreak dynamics, population growth, and/or risk analysis; OR 2) Plant-insect pest population dynamics with a strong quantitative focus.

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Contribute to a special issue of the journal Agronomy

May 6, 2020

two locusts in treeSubmissions are now being accepted for a special issue of the journal Agronomy, guest edited by Drs. Michel Lecoq and Arianne Cease, focused on any of these broad themes surrounding modern locust management:

    —the biotic and abiotic factors that affect population and behavioral dynamics (including the potential role of climate change),
    —surveys and monitoring,
    —forecasting,
    —management technologies,
    —governance,
    —the impact of outbreaks (economic, social, and/or environmental),
    —or related research.

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FFAR and Swette Center project: first workshop on institutional barriers to sustainable locust management in South America

April 20, 2020

As part of the Global Locust Initiative Lab’s FFAR project on coupled human-system approaches to solving locust plagues, also supported by ASU’s Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems, workshops have been organized in South America, Sénégal and Australia to identify and address institutional barriers to sustainable locust management.

The first workshop took place in Tucumán, Argentina, on February 26 and 27, 2020. It brought together 38 participants from Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay working in national and provincial locust control agencies, as well as  researchers, farmers and representatives of farming associations and ministries. Using a participative methodology with tools, such as collaborative social mapping, participants were invited to share their point of views regarding governance issues in the case of the South American locust (Schistocerca cancellata) over a day and a half. They explained the current situation characterized by regular outbreaks of S. cancellata, identified the main actors involved in the governance system, characterized the interactions among these agents, and discussed the main strengths, opportunities for improvement, and threats for the sustainable governance of the South American locust.

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Integrated pest management in Senegal

April 6, 2020

Braedon Kantola and Alana Burnham with Senagalese farmers
This article was written by William H. Walker VI, a sophomore in the Schoool of Sustainability

Imagine you are in Senegal, working on a farm. It's your livelihood, your culture, and a part of your well-being. You grow millet, rice, maize, sugarcane, maybe even some wheat. You do all you can to take care of your farm and your family. Yet, there is cause for concern: locusts. When they swarm, they eat all of your crops, sometimes up to a hectare’s worth of hard work. How could this have been prevented? What can be done to empower communities?  One way is by stopping locusts before they swarm. That’s what Master of Sustainability Solutions (MSUS) student Braedon Kantola is working on for his culminating experience and what he did on his recent trip to Senegal.

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Locust plagues are devastating countries across Africa

ASU Now | February 21, 2020

LocustRight now, there are hundreds of billions of locusts wreaking havoc on vegetation across Africa. Experts are sounding the alarm, including United Nations humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock, who said the swarm has the potential to be "the most devastating plague of locusts in any of our living memories if we don't reduce the problem faster than we're doing at the moment."

The outbreak has hit East Africa particularly hard as many countries in the region are heavily dependent on agriculture. Locust swarms devastate food crops and raise food insecurity, an issue many of the countries already struggle with. According to the UN, the swarms are the largest in Somalia and Ethiopia in 25 years and the largest in Kenya in 70 years. In Kenya, Joseph Katone Leparole — who has lived in the hamlet, Wamba, for most of his 68 years — described the plague as being similar to an umbrella covering the sky.

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Desert Locust upsurge: an update from Dr. Michel Lecoq, GLI Network member and Desert Locust expert

February 21, 2020

For the latest information on the Desert Locust situation, please see the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Locust Watch website.

The Desert Locust is known throughout history for its capacity to reach plague-like swarms, descending from the sky to ravage crops and trouble farmers. Scientifically named Schistocerca gregaria (Forskål 1775), this species undergoes an almost “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” type of transformation called locust phase polyphenism. The Desert Locust can change from a solitary insect, behaving more like a typical grasshopper, into a “gregarious” form that prefers high-density communities and lots of traveling. These gregarious adults make up clouds of locusts capable of migrating hundreds of kilometers in a single night.

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Current locust swarms emphasize the importance of GLI researchers

February 4, 2020

Locust swarm location mapPakistan. Somalia. Ethiopia. Kenya. Locust swarms of near biblical proportions are currently wreaking havoc across a wide swath of southwest Asia and east Africa.

According to the United Nations, the swarms are the largest in Somalia and Ethiopia in 25 years, and the most severe in Kenya in 70 years. Firdous Ashiq Awan, Pakistan’s special assistant to the prime minister for information and broadcasting, called the infestation the “worst in more than two decades.” Both Pakistan and Somalia have declared national emergencies as they struggle to contain the impact of the pests' invasion. As a testament to the significance of the threat, Somalia’s Ministry of Agriculture warned that the locusts posed “a major threat to Somalia’s fragile food security situation.” It was a sentiment echoed by Qu Dongyu, director-general of the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization.

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"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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