Shirk, Paul D
Research Physiologist (Insects)
MEDICAL, AGRIC & VETRY ENTOM
1700 S.W. 23RD DRIVE
Gainesville FL 32608
The mission of the Insect Behavior and Biocontrol Research Unit is to describe, analyze and manipulate the behaviors and environments of pest and beneficial insects, and to develop area-wide tactics for managing lepidopterous, thrips and fruit fly pests utilizing natural enemies, molecular manipulations, and semiochemicals and other signals and cues. The ultimate objective is to provide alternative methods to conventional pesticides for control of insect and plant pests of crops, vegetables and fruits. Research focus is on the fundamentals and applications of insect genetics, reproductive physiology, ecology and sexual and foraging behaviors. These principles are applied to the 1) development of novel and environmentally safe means of genetically transforming insects in order to obtain superior strains for Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) and related area-wide control methods; 2) description of the ecological and genetic structure of pest populations in order to better target area-wide control techniques; 3) development of methods to economically mass-rear superior strains of natural-enemies and sterile males for area-wide release; 4) development of new insect attractants and monitoring devices to determine the scope and measure the effect of area-wide biologically-based control programs; and 5) practice of biologically-based area-wide control of insect pests and the invasive plants that support them through natural enemies and SIT and related technologies.