Gries Lab

Research Interests

We study mechanisms of insect/spider/animal communication and resource-foraging. We elucidate semiochemical, sonic, visual, infrared and bacterial communication signals and foraging cues, and investigate how these signals or cues may have evolved in response to community composition, scarceness of resources, and physical parameters of the habitat. We also develop acquired knowledge for sophisticated control of pest insects or animals.
 
Most of our current study objects (hobo spiders; house flies; Drosophila fruit flies; mosquitoes; twig and tree borer moths; lymantriid moths; earwigs; Cimex, Boisea, and Leptoglossus bugs; cecidomyiid midges; cockroaches; braconid wasps; silverfish and firebrats; etc.) have major economic or ecological implications. We work on them under the premise that their biology and communication ecology is as intriguing as that of any other insect.
 
Findings of our research can be developed for earth-friendly control of insects in urban, agricultural, and forest settings. This is why we attract funding from Industrial Sponsors. In June 2004, our lab has obtained an NSERC-Industrial Research Chair (IRC) in Multimodal Animal Communication Ecology, with Scotts Canada Ltd. as the current main sponsor. This NSERC-IRC is a triple-win because: (1) it provides a perfect training and research environment for many graduate and undergraduate students, and pushes the frontiers of science; (2) it provides society with earth-friendly solutions for pest problems; and (3) it generates new products and technologies for the industrial sponsors.

 

We thank Adam Blake & Stephen DeMuth for web design, Greg Elhers for photos of lab facilities and graduate students for banner photos.

In the News

Honey bees navigate using magnetic abdomens
as featured in an article at
physicsworld.com

Honey bees appear to sense magnetic fields using a magnetic structure in their abdomens, according to a team of physicists and biologists in Canada. The researchers came to this conclusion by carrying out a series of physics and behavioural experiments on the insects, which showed that this sensory ability can be disrupted using a strong permanent magnet.

From the paper "Linking magnetite in the abdomen of honey bees to a magnetoreceptive function" in Proceeding of the Royal Society BSee related story from SFUnews & podcast from physicsworld.com

Ecological and genomic insights into
stick-insect speciation

as featured in an article at
Nature Ecology & Evolution Community


Credit: M. Muschick

Studies of populations at different phases of speciation are beginning to illuminate the processes and genetic changes underlying the formation of new species. Our work on Timema stick insects suggests that speciation can be initiated by a few genetic changes that are associated with natural selection on colour-pattern loci. However, the overall process is multi-faceted and involves mate choice and genome-wide differentiation. Thus, substantial progress towards speciation may involve the alignment of multiple aspects of differentiation.

From the paper "Transitions between phases of genomic differentiation during stick-insect speciation" in Nature Ecology & EvolutionSee related stories from: ScienceDailyPhys.org & Futurity