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Kyle Wickings

Kyle Wickings

Assistant Professor

325 Barton Laboratory
(315) 787-2337

Soil animal communities are composed of a rich assemblage of decomposers, predators, and plant pests. As assistant professor of Soil Arthropod Ecology and Turfgrass Entomology, I am interested in improving our basic knowledge of soil invertebrates and applying this knowledge to help minimize damage by root-feeding pests while simultaneously preserving the biodiversity and function of beneficial soil organisms.

Research Focus

My research strives to understand the interactions between arthropods, microbes, and soil organic matter, and how these interactions may be modified to improve plant protection in the rhizosphere. One of my research goals is to identify underlying characteristics of soil organic matter (quantity, quality, and composition) which influence root herbivore populations. This knowledge could improve our ability to predict pest outbreaks and may ultimately be used to develop soil amendments which suppress root-feeding pests. I am also interested in understanding the role that soil microbes play in the nutritional ecology of root-feeding arthropods. My previous research demonstrates that soil arthropods interact closely with microbes during feeding, and it is well known that soil arthropods form diverse external and internal associations with microbes. My research at Cornell will continue in this area to improve our understanding of the role of microbes in root herbivore nutrition and the potential for managing root-feeding pests by influencing the soil microbial community.

Outreach and Extension Focus

My extension responsibilities entail working with a diverse body of stakeholders in turfgrass and other commodities in New York State to solve problems involving soil-dwelling plant pests. I believe that a successful extension program in soil arthropod ecology must be highly interdisciplinary, and should be equally receptive to basic ecological research on soil arthropods as well as the knowledge and needs of stakeholders. The overall goal of my extension program is to enhance the sustainability of pest management programs for turfgrass by identifying or developing practices that not only meet stakeholder needs but also preserve or promote soil biological functioning.

Selected Publications

Journal Publications