In my lab we study plant-insect interactions in agro-ecosystems. We are interested in understanding these interactions at many different levels (from the plant to the landscape) to seek for more sustainable strategies to increase ecosystems services provided by insects such as pollination and natural enemies to ultimately increase yield.
At the farm scale we have been focusing in developing crop management systems that reduce pest pressure and increase yield through the use of functionally important plants (trap plants for pests, repellent plants for pests and flowering plants attractive for natural enemies and pollinators). In addition we have been studying the responses of different varieties of crop plants to herbivores in order to harness their natural defense mechanisms (resistance and tolerance) in management practices or breeding processes that would lead to higher production with less reliance and chemical fertilizers and pesticide use. We are currently collaborating with an interdisciplinary team of Colombian and US-American researchers with expertise in applied economics and management, entomology, plant breeding, genetics and molecular biology to combine the push-pull technology to reduce pest pressure by the Guatemalan tuber moth with the use of the overcompensating potato variety to successfully develop a sustainable management practice that can have a long-term impact on Colombian agriculture.
At the landscape scale we are investigating how important the biodiversity surrounding a farm is for ecosystem services such as pollination, natural pest control and increased yields. Ongoing studies work with landscape scale effects on potato pests in Colombia and on strawberry pollinators, natural enemies in cabbage, apple pests and potato pests in upstate NY.
I strongly advocate that the best way of learning is to get hands-on experience on a given subject. As a graduate student, I took an intensive OTS (Organization for Tropical Biology) course in Tropical Biology. This course strongly influenced the trajectory of my scientific career and, more importantly, the way I think about teaching. As a teacher of several OTS courses I have seen how fast students are able to learn a great variety of new concepts and ideas within a short period of time, simply through the direct exposure to field work. Teaching these types of courses has made me a passionate advocate for field and hands-on experiences. Given the relevance of experimental designs and statistics in biology my new course Applied Statistics: Biological Experiments in Practice provides hands-on experience in the design and analysis of basic experiments. Students learn how to develop a scientific question, formulate biological and statistical hypotheses, derive testable predictions, use different types of rigorous experimental designs, collect their own data, test the proposed hypotheses using appropriate statistical methods and finally interpret the statistic results within a broader conceptual framework. Although these skills are essential to a successful research career, they are seldom taught, which highlights the most important contribution this course is providing to the CALS curriculum.
- Chautá-Mellizo, A., Campbell, S. A., Bonilla, M. A., Thaler, J. S., & Poveda, K. (2012). Effects of natural and artificial pollination on fruit and offspring quality. Basic and Applied Ecology. 13:524-532.
- Poveda, K., & Kessler, A. (2012). New Synthesis: Plant volatiles as functional cues in intercropping systems. Journal of Chemical Ecology. 38:1341.
- Poveda, K., Gómez, M. I., Halitschke, R., & Kessler, A. (2012). Overcompensating plants: their expression of resistance traits and effects on herbivore preference & performance. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata. 143:245-253.
- Poveda, K., Martínez, E., Bonilla, M. A., & Tscharntke, T. (2012). Landscape simplification and altitudinal variation affect biodiversity, herbivory and Andean potato yield (*equal authorship). Journal of Applied Ecology. 49:513-522.
- Kessler, A., Halitschke, R., & Poveda, K. (2011). Herbivory-mediated pollinator limitation: negative impacts of induced volatiles on plant-pollinator interactions. Ecology. 92:1769-1780.
- Rasmann, S., Bauerle, T. L., Poveda, K., & Vanette, R. (2011). Predicting root resistance to herbivores during succession. Functional Ecology. 25:368-379.
- Poveda, K., Gomez, M., & Kessler, A. (2010). The enemy as ally: herbivore-induced increase in crop yield. Ecological Applications. 20:1787-1793.