Category Archives: News


Image result for EXCEL/COMPASS ucf

The Sharanowski lab gave tours of to undergraduates in  EXCEL/COMPASS programs.

Ryan talking to STEM students about the crypt keeper wasps.
Miles sharing his love for evolution.
Shiala showing the insect ambassador.
In addition to the lab tours, Nash give tours of the BugCloset which has an ornithology collection.

UCF Research Week

UCF’s Student Research Week celebrates the research and creative projects of undergraduate and graduate students.

Ryan Ridenbaugh



A Model Study Showing the Benefits of Systematics in Biocontrol




Josh Hogan and Dylan Grubb


Utilizing Native Pest as a Renewable Source of Poultry Feed





Dissertation Defense

Miles successfully defended his dissertation defense on April 2nd, 2018.

The Evolution of Peristenus (Hymenoptera: Braconidae): Taxonomy, Phylogenetics, and Ecological Speciation


More info to come! 


SouthEastern Branch Meeting



Presenter Title
Monday, March 05
10:35 AM – 10:47 AM
Magnolia B
Jacque Meyer 
Undergrad Tech
1:  What’s eating those flea beetles? A molecular approach to biocontrol
Monday, March 05
02:29 PM – 02:41 PM
Magnolia B
Miles Zhang
PhD Candidate
 90: Multilocus phylogeny of the parasitic wasps in the tribe Euphorini (Braconidae: Euphorinae) with revised generic classifications
Jacque Meyer talking about the life cycle of flea beetles.
Kudos to Miles Zhang for winning 2nd place in the Phd Student presentation at the ESA’s Southeastern Branch Meeting. Miles resolved the existing taxonomic confusion for parasitic wasps in the tribe Euphoriniusing using multilocus phylogenetics.


New PhD Student


Davide Dal Pos


M.S in Natural Sciences at University of
Padua (Italy)

B.S in ‘Sciences and Technologies in Nature’ at University of Pavia (Italy) with a concentration in Evolutionary processes

My fascination for parasitic wasps of the superfamily Ichneumunoidea started during my master’s program at the Univesity of Padua (Italy), where my thesis focused on the subfamilies of Ichneumonidae as potential bioindicators. Although the topic of my research falls under ecology, my main interest has always been systematics and evolution of these outstanding creatures. This led me to collaborate with the Natural History Museum of Venice as an assistant curator for several years, where I was in charge of the Hymenoptera section, and give me the chance to work on the Ichneumonidae collection at the Zoological Museum of Copenhagen during a visit as a visiting student. I pretty excited to start my PhD project at the UCF stimulating environment, hoping to find my way through the big and changeling world of systematics of parasitoid wasps.


Termites trap


Poultry farming produces significant amounts of waste by-products, particularly poultry litter, the used bedding on which chickens are reared. Full of excrement, this bedding must be removed from the coops and disposed. Although poultry litter has been used as a crop fertilizer, its use has been restricted in recent years due to contamination and eutrophication of water due to run-off. Thus novel uses or recycling of poultry litter will economically benefit farmers, particularly small poultry operations. Here we examine the utility of the Eastern subterranean termite (Reticulitermesflavipes) as a potential inexpensive and renewable recycler of dirty chicken bedding. Specifically, we test the survivorship of termites on clean and dirty poultry bedding and discuss the potential of termites as an on-farm, sustainable solution to poultry waste.

ESA 2017!



Presenter Title
Monday, November 06
08:30 AM – 08:40 AM
Room 504
Amber Bass
MSc Candidate
0595: Drivers of speciation in a tri-trophic system of parasitoids (Pauesia spp.), aphids (Cinara spp.), and pine (Pinus spp.)
Monday, November 06
09:20 AM – 09:30 AM
Room 504
Miles Zhang
PhD Candidate
0600: Testing the tri-trophic speciation patterns of parasitoid wasps in the Peristenus pallipes complex (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) using genomic data
Tuesday, November 07
03:20 PM – 03:35 PM
Room: 401
Barbara Sharanowski
Associate Professor
1531: Integrative taxonomy improves understanding of native beneficial fauna: Revision of the Nearctic Peristenus pallipes complex (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) and implications for release of exotic biocontrol agents
Tuesday, November 07
09:40 AM – 09:50 AM
Room 505
Ryan Ridenbaugh
MSc Candidate
1199: A model study showing the benefits of systematics in biocontrol
Monday, November 06
08:00 AM – 06:30 PM
Mile High Ballroom
Josh Hogan
Undergrad Tech
D3182: Utilizing native pests as a source of renewable poultry feed
Wednesday, November 08
08:00 AM – 02:00 PM
Mile High Ballroom
Shiala M. Naranjo
Laboratory Manager
D3598: Bug Closet crawls with diversity

Native Biodiversity

Demonstrating the amazing variation in the plant genus Silphium to demonstrate a nugget of nifty prairie natural history.
Our postdoc, Nash, presented at Ecology Society of America on August 10th, 2017!
OOS 37-9 – Plant-consumer interactions and habitat edge effects reduce native biodiversity in recently restored prairies
Thursday, August 10, 2017: 10:50AM
D136, Oregon Convention Center
Nash E. Turley and Lars A. Brudvig, Michigan State University
Background/Question/MethodsHabitat restoration often involves adding seeds of native plant species but it is not well understood what ecological factors influence whether they establish. We studied how multiple plant consumers and habitat edge effects influence plant establishment in recently restored prairies. At Kellogg Biological Station in Western Michigan we applied herbicide to 12 old-field sites and sowed them with native prairie species. To test how edge effects and vertebrate consumers influence sown species establishment we constructed 48 exclosures out of hardware cloth each with a paired pseudoexclosure. Each site had two exclosures near the edge and two in the middle. To test the effects of insects and molluscs we established plots that got treatments of either insecticide, molluscicide, both, or a water control during the growing season. We sampled plant communities in all plots near the end of the 2016-growing season.


We found that excluding mammals and birds increased the number of sown species by 30% with similar effects for edge and center plots. This was likely because of direct consumption of sown seeds or seedlings rather than through changes in non-sown species abundance because we found that the overall community compositions were not different. We also found that plots near the edges of our recently restored prairies had a 40% reduction in sown species richness compared to the middle. This was possibly caused by changes in composition of weedy species, which were quite different between edge and center. Finally, we found that the insecticide and molluscicide treatments did not impact sown species richness. These results suggest that management that suppresses weeds, especially near the edges of sites, and that reduces seed predation by mammals and birds could help increase native plant biodiversity during restoration.


Photo: left to right -> Dan(Hoffman Lab), Kathy(Parkinson lab), Ian (Fedorka Lab) and Miles(our Lab)

Our PhD candidate, Miles Zhang, presented at the Evolution 2017 .