Department of Biological Sciences
|Jeremy J. Heath
Department of Biological Sciences
Environmental Science PhD Program (Advisor: Dr. John O. Stireman III)
Main research areas:
I am generally interested in understanding the maintenance of ecological systems and using this knowledge to consolidate ecological theories and principles. Understanding system maintenance reveals the best conservation practices, provides valuable insight and testable hypotheses about the factors responsible for player evolution in adaptive radiations, and can be the foundation for establishing low-input food production systems. This work therefore spans a range of disciplines including evolution, ecology, behavior, physiology, and (bio)chemistry. I focus on insects and particularly gall midges (Diptera: Cecidomyiidae). This is a huge family of insects that holds more than 5000 species, with many more awaiting descriptions and discoveries. They have diverse feeding habits and some are involved in mutualistic relationships with fungi. Its members include gallers, herbivores, fungivores, and predators. Cecidomyiids attack a wide variety of vascular plants from grasses to forbs to trees and they themselves host many natural enemies. These traits make them excellent systems for understanding broad ecological and evolutionary principles.
(1) Understanding the ecological and evolutionary drivers of adaptive radiation in insects with particular emphasis on gall-midge systems.
Our lab, in collaboration with the Abbot Lab, is studying a complex of Asteromyia spp. (Cecidomyiidae: Diptera) on their goldenrod host plants. Complex interactions between these midges, host-plant defenses, parasitoid wasps, and a mutualistic fungus instrumental in gall formation may be spurring rapid evolutionary diversification in this system. Understanding the ecology and evolution of this system will provide insight into the process of speciation and may aid in the sustainable control of invasive plants and agricultural pathogens.
(2) Understanding the ecological roles of carotenoids in insects with particular emphasis on gall-midge systems.
Many gall midge larvae have carotenoids throughout their bodies and in different life stages. These compounds give them their bright orange color. Some adult females also have carotenoids in their accessory glands and most have carotenoids in their eggs. The origin and function of these compounds in cecidomyiids is completely unexplored. Currently, I am studying the origin and potential role of the carotenoids in the salivary glands of Asteromyia carbonifera larvae. Carotenoids are also important in human development, vision, and absolutely essential in photosynthesis.
(3) The biology, life history, and phylogenetic relationships of gall midges (Cecidomyiidae: Diptera) and their parasitoid enemies (mainly Eulophidae and Platygastridae), which includes systematic work on these poorly organized groups. Eulophids and platygastrids have major potential as biological control agents for a range of agricultural pests.
Aprostocetus tesserus laying an egg in an Asteromyia carbonifera gall.
Platygaster solidaginis, egg parastioids of Asteromyia carbonifera.
Closterocerus solidaginis pupa, a parastioids of Asteromyia carbonifera.
Heath, J.J., D. Cipollini, and J.O. Stireman III. Accepted-In Press. The role of carotenoids and their derivatives in mediating interactions between insects and their environment. Arthropod-Plant Interactions.
Heath, J.J., B. Wells, D. Cipollini, and J.O. Stireman III. 2012. Carnivores and carotenoids are associated with adaptive behavioural divergence in a radiation of gall midges. Ecological Entomology. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2311.2012.01397.x
Heath, J.J. and J.O. Stireman III. 2010. Dissecting the association between a gall midge, Asteromyia carbonifera, and its symbiotic fungus, Botryosphaeria dothidea. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata 137(1), 36-49.
Heath, J.J, A. Zhang, W.L. Roelofs, and R.F. Smith. 2005. Flight activity and further evidence of a female-produced sex pheromone of the apple leaf midge, Dasineura mali in Nova Scotia. Northeastern Naturalist 12 (1), 93-102.
Baker, T.C. and J.J. Heath. 2004. Pheromones: function and use in insect control. L.I. Gilbert, K. Latrou, and S. Gill (Eds). In Comprehensive Molecular Insect Science Vol. 6. Elsevier.
Ortiz, O., Garrett, K. A., Heath, J. J., Orrego, R., and Nelson, R. J. 2004. Management of potato late blight in the Peruvian highlands: Evaluating the benefits of Farmer Field Schools and Farmer Participatory Research. Plant Disease 88, 565-571.
Heath, J.J., R.N. Williams, P.L. Phelan. 2002. Aggregation and male attraction to feeding virgin females in Macrodactylus subspinosus (F.) (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae: Melolonthinae). Environmental Entomology 31 (6), 934-940.
Orrego, R, J.J. Heath, J. Tenorio, C. Valencia, J.A. Landeo, M. Upadhya, K.A. Garrett, N. Zuniga, A. Mendoza, A. Parraga, L. Cotrina, E. Roncal, M.A. Pacheco, O. Ortiz, R.J. Nelson. 2001. Evaluation of potato genotypes through pilot-scale farmer field schools in the Peruvian Andes. Scientist and farmer: partners in research for the 21st Century. Program Report 1999-2000, 225-237
Heath, J.J., R.N. Williams, P. L. Phelan. 2001. Light intensity: A critical factor in the wind-tunnel flight of two scarabs, the rose chafer and Japanese beetle. Journal Chemical Ecology, 27 (3), 419-429.
Heath, J.J., S. Gaul, D. Nash, R.F. Smith, O. Kukal. 1998. Evidence of a female-produced sex pheromone in the apple leaf midge, Dasineura mali Kieffer (Diptera: Cecidomyiidae). Canadian Entomologist. 130: (1) 109-110. Associated Video: alm.mov
Heath, J.J. and R.F. Smith. 1998. Efficacy of Spinosad, Malathion 25 WP, Ripcord 400 EC, and Sevin XLR Plus against apple leafcurling midge adults. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Pest Management Report for 1997. Pp 17–18. Guelph, Ontario.
Heath, J.J. and R.F. Smith. 1997. Potential for biocontrol of the apple leaf midge. Pest Management News. Vol. 9, No. 2. p. 9.