Our mission is to understand the ecological mechanisms that deliver sustainable crop production. We have expertise in movement and spatial ecology of pests and pollinators, above and below-ground functional biodiversity and weed ecology.
The Department specialises in experimental and quantitative ecology and produces high impact research from plot to continental scales. Our science is supported by a unique combination of facilities including the Rothamsted Insect Survey (National Capability), eight 'Classical' experiments as well as a 330 ha research farm, unique Vertical Looking and Harmonic Radars and insect behaviour and field labs.
Over 30 staff and students are clustered into five research groups.
Head of Department: Dr Angela Karp
Departmental Secretary: Karen Wright
Globally, weeds are a major constraint to crop production and food security. Research within the weed ecology and evolution group at Rothamsted is focused on understanding the ecological and evolutionary forces that underpin the establishment, persistence and spread of weedy (and invasive) plant populations in agro-ecosystems.
Department Press Releases
A recent study found that decreased biodiversity of Pseudomonas, a genus of soil bacteria, is associated with a reduced severity of the fungal disease ‘take-all’ in second year wheat. The work revealed that disease incidence was linked to the wheat variety grown in the first year, and that this also had a profound effect on Pseudomonas species community structure. Now researchers have found that the useful activity of Pseudomonas strains that suppress take-all disease is severely reduced when additional Pseudomonas strains are present.
Soapbox Science is a platform for promoting women and the science that they do. From the Weed Ecology group at Rothamsted Research, technician Laura Crook took part in an event at Milton Keynes shopping centre.
Scientists have tracked the flight paths of a group of bumble bees throughout their entire lives in what is thought to be the first lifetime tracking study of any animal in such detail. The new study used a radar to show how individual bees explore their environment and search for food. The findings showed that individual bumble bees differ greatly in the way they fly around the landscape when foraging for nectar and pollen.
Most plants have harmless bacteria living inside their tissues, known as ‘endophytes’, which can benefit plants by providing nutrients and suppressing diseases. Scientists have developed a new technique to grow wheat plants without any endophytes, allowing them to introduce different bacterial species into them, which will reveal more about this interaction. The researchers hope that the method could give insights enabling the production of cereal plants with increased yields.
This is a special announcement regarding the diamondback moth and covers observations up until the 10th June 2016. Diamondback moths are an important migratory pest of brassicas, causing feeding and cosmetic damage that can lead to severe losses in cruciferous crops. The diamondback moth (Plutella xylostella) is a species often described a 'super-pest' because they have been found to be resistant to most insecticides, including pyrethroids and diamide.
Soils are teeming with bacteria whose effects we are just beginning to understand. One of the most abundant and active groups of bacteria in soils is called Bradyrhizobium. For the first time from European soils, scientists have sequenced the genome of Bradyrhizobium, giving a glimpse into their activity and revealing differences with strains from other parts of the world.
Monitoring and surveillance of pest species is fundamental to control their populations and reduce the damage they inflict on crops. To develop efficient surveillance schemes, it is important to understand migration patterns. Studying the migration and dispersal of small insects can be problematic due to the difficulty of tracking individuals. However, phylogeographic and population genetics tools provide information about the connectivity of populations across different geographic ranges, which can be used to infer the migration patterns of species. This project provides an exciting opportunity to test the application of these evolutionary concepts to improve the surveillance and control of a particular aphid of agricultural relevance.
Getting to the roots of black-grass control: Crop-weed allelopathic interactions in Alopecurus myosuroides
Alopecurus myosuroides (black-grass) is a major threat to UK crop production. The evolution of resistance to herbicides in black-grass means there is an urgent need to develop novel control strategies. There is much interest in the potential for allelopathic interactions (the production of biologically active compounds by plants to inhibit growth of their competitors) to provide novel solutions for black-grass control. You will work with an interdisciplinary team to explore plant ecological and evolutionary interactions, chemical ecology and soil ecology. You will develop skills in plant, chemical and soil ecology underpinned by modern approaches in quantitative biology, analytical chemistry and soil metagenomics. You will develop fundamental scientific knowledge about basic ecological interactions, applying this knowledge to one of the most pressing issues in UK crop production. You will have the opportunity to work with one of the UK’s leading farm management consulting companies to realise the potential of your findings in agronomic field trials.
The use of cover and catch crops is becoming more common place in UK agriculture. There are many potential benefits of such practices including prevention of soil erosion and leaching of nitrate, improvement of infiltration and adding carbon to the soil. Cover crops have the potential to promote a range of ecosystem services, however, at present there has been very little investigation of which crops do this best. Cover and catch crops must display specific traits to be of benefit to the grower in different rotational positions and thereby justify seed and planting costs; compatibility with cash crops, strong root penetration, growth in low temperature and light conditions and zero seed return. This project will work towards providing an evidence base for growers to make decisions on which cover crops to use.
|title||First Name||Last Name||Department||Location|
|View||Miss||Madeleine||Berger||Biological Chemistry and Crop Protection, Agroecology||Harpenden|
|View||Mr||March||Castle||Agroecology, Plant Biology and Crop Science||Harpenden|
|View||Mrs||Imogen||Durenkamp||Plant Biology and Crop Science, Agroecology||Harpenden|
|View||Mr||Nick||Evens||Plant Biology and Crop Science, Agroecology||Harpenden|
|View||Mr||Steve||Freeman||Agroecology, Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems||Harpenden|
|View||Mr||Alex||Greenslade||Biological Chemistry and Crop Protection, Agroecology||Harpenden|
|View||Mr||Mike||Hall||Agroecology, Plant Biology and Crop Science||Harpenden|
|View||Mrs||Tracey||Kruger||Plant Biology and Crop Science, Agroecology||Harpenden|
|View||Mr||Andrew||Moss||Computational & Systems Biology, Plant Biology and Crop Science, Agroecology, Business Information Services, Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems, Biological Chemistry and Crop Protection||Harpenden|
|View||Ms||Vanessa||Nessner Kavamura Noguchi||Agroecology|
|View||Dr||Donald||Reynolds||Agroecology, Computational & Systems Biology||Harpenden|
|View||Mr||David||Steele||Plant Biology and Crop Science, Sustainable Soil and Grassland Systems, Agroecology||Harpenden|