University of California, Riverside

Applied Biological Control Research



Nic Irvin


Nic IrvinNicola A. Irvin, PhD
Biological Control Specialist and Research Scholar
Phone: (951) 827 4360
Fax: (951) 827 3086
nic.irvin@ucr.edu

Dr. Irvin joined the Hoddle laboratory in 2001 as a post doctoral scholar. Dr Irvin has had a heavy focus on researching the glassy-winged sharpshooter, Homalodisca vitripennis (Germar), and its Mymarid wasp biological control agents Gonatocerus ashmeadi, G. fasciatus, G. triguttatus, and G. tuberculifemur.

Dr. Irvin was promoted to Assistant Specialist in 2007, and awarded a Western Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (Western SARE) grant to investigate the use of nectar cover crops for sustainable pest control in California vineyards. This four-year project ended in 2010.

Currently, Dr. Irvin is writing up research for publication at 20% time while enjoying spending time with her young children.

Degrees

Ph.D. Entomology (1999), Lincoln University, New Zealand

B.S. First Class Honors, Horticultural Science (1996), Lincoln University, New Zealand

Professional Affiliations

  • Member of NZIAS (New Zealand Institute for Agricultural Science) since 1996.
  • Member of New Zealand Plant Protection Society since 1997.
  • Member of New Zealand Ecological Society since 1999.
  • Member of New Zealand Royal Society since 1999.
  • Member of Entomological Society of America since 2001.

Research Interests

Dr. Irvin is a graduate of Lincoln University, New Zealand, where she completed a Bachelor of Horticultural Science and was awarded first-class honors. Her honors project compared hover fly (Diptera: Syrphidae) numbers, gut fullness, female egg load and pollen preference of three New Zealand hover fly species between arable and florally-diverse habitats. Dr. Irvin showed for the first time the high dependency of New Zealand predatory hover flies on floral resources (Irvin, 1996; Irvin et al., 1999a).

Dr. Irvin went on to complete her PhD in Entomology and her thesis examined the use of understorey management for the enhancement of leafroller (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae) parasitoids (Dolichogenidea tasmanica) in apple orchards located in Canterbury, New Zealand. The results of her work (Irvin, 1999; Irvin et al., 1999b; Irvin et al., 2000; Irvin et al., 2006a) showed that sowing buckwheat, coriander, or alyssum in apple understoreys can enhance field populations of D. tasmanica and increase leafroller parasitism in the field.

In April 2001, Dr. Irvin joined the Hoddle laboratory at University of California, Riverside, and has been involved in researching the biology of three Gonatocerus parasitoids associated with the biological control of the glassy-winged sharpshooter (Homalodisca vitripennis), a significant pest of many agriculturally important crops in southern California. From 2001-2007 her research determined which lemon cultivar maximized H. vitripennis oviposition for use in future experiments (Irvin & Hoddle, 2004), egg age utilization by three Gonatocerus spp. (Irvin & Hoddle, 2005a), the biological potential and competitive ability of three Gonatocerus parasitoids in the laboratory (Irvin & Hoddle, 2005b; Irvin et al., 2006b), the influence of parasitoid intraspecific competition on the sex ratio of subsequent progeny (Irvin & Hoddle, 2006), and the effect of several food resources on Gonatocerus spp. longevity (Irvin & Hoddle 2007; Irvin et al., 2007) .

During this time, Dr. Irvin also conducted research investigating the fitness costs for transgenic mosquitoes expressing the green fluorescent protein marker. The results of her work (Irvin et al., 2004) showed that survival, fecundity, and longevity are significantly reduced in transgenic mosquitoes relative to the untransformed laboratory strain. This research was the first of its kind in the world and has important implications for the development and utilization of this technology for mosquito control programs, or suppression of disease transmission, which are based on genetic modification.

Dr. Irvin has since built on her previous Gonatocerus work by investigating protein- and dye-marking of G. ashmeadi for mark-capture studies (Irvin et al. 2012) and measuring egg maturation, oosorption, and wing wear in G. ashmeadi (Irvin and Hoddle, 2009). During the latter research, she discovered that G. ashmeadi is a synovigenic parasitoid, a finding that contradicts current reproductive classification. Quarantine studies were also performed to determine the viability and potential of two “new association” Gonatocerus parasitoids to be introduced into California as biological control agents of H. vitripennis (Irvin et al. 2009, Irvin and Hoddle 2010, Irvin and Hoddle 2011). Additionally, Dr. Irvin conducted research to measure real lifetime contributions of individual female G. ashmeadi to parasitism of H. vitripennis egg masses under field conditions, and determine the ecological significance of brochosome deposition on H. vitripennis egg masses and its effect on parasitism rates in the field. This work is currently being written up for publication.

In 2007, Dr. Irvin received a Western Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (Western SARE) grant to investigate the use of nectar cover crops for sustainable pest control in California vineyards. This four-year project ended in 2010 and results from this research are currently being written up for publication.


Recent Projects


GWSSBiological Control of the Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter

The Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter feeds exclusively on xylem fluids and is a major pest on citrus. More...

 

GWSS eggs with brochosomesSignificance of Brochosomes on GWSS Eggs

The ecological significance of brochosomes on glassy-winged sharpshooter egg masses, and parasitism by G. ashmeadiMore... 
 

GWSS ParasitoidsGlassy-winged Sharpshooter Parasitoids

Investigating the biology and competitive ability of a neoclassical GWSS parasitoid imported from Argentina. More...


Buckwheat Cover CropsCover Crops as Sustainable Pest Control

Investigating  the strengths and limitations of cover cropping under the unique growing conditions representative of grape producing areas of Southern California. More...


temporary placeholder thumbAssessing realized lifetime parasitism of Gonatocerus ashmeadi

Measuring real lifetime contributions of female G. ashmeadi to parasitism of GWSS egg masses in citrus orchards. More...

 

Publications

35. Irvin, N. A., Hagler, J. R., Hoddle, M. S., 2012. Laboratory investigation of triple marking the parasitoid Gonatocerus ashmeadi with a fluorescent dye and two animal proteins. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata 143(1): 1-12.

34. Gutierrez, A. P., Ponti L., Hoddle, M., Almeida, P. P., Irvin, N. A., 2011. Geographic distribution and relative abundance of the invasive glassy-winged sharpshooter: Effects of temperature and egg parasitoids. Environmental Entomology 40(4): 755-769.

33. Irvin, N. A., Hoddle, M. S., 2011. Comparative assessments of Gonatocerus ashmeadi and the ‘new association’ parasitoid Gonatocerus deleoni (Hymentoptera: Mymaridae) as biological control agents of Homalodisca vitripennis (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae). Biocontrol Science and Technology 21(7): 839-863.

32. Irvin, N. A., Hoddle, M. S., 2010. Comparative assessments of Gonatocerus ashmeadi and the ‘new association’ parasitoid Gonatocerus tuberculifemur (Hymentoptera: Mymaridae) as biological control agents of Homalodisca vitripennis (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae). Biological Control 55, 186-196.

31. Irvin, N. A., Suarez-Espinoza, J., Hoddle, M. S. 2009. The functional response of Gonatocerus ashmeadi and the ‘new association’ parasitoid G. tuberculifemur attacking eggs of Homalodisca vitripennis. Environmental Entomology, 38(6): 1634-1641.

30. Irvin, N. A., Hoddle, M. S. 2009. Egg maturation, oosorption, and wing wear in Gonatocerus ashmeadi (Hymenoptera: Mymaridae), an egg parasitoid of the glassy-winged sharpshooter, Homalodisca vitripennis (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae). Biological Control 48: 125–132.

29. Irvin, N. A., Hoddle, M. S. 2008. Should Neoclassical Biological Control Agents from Argentina Be Released in California for Control of the Glassy-winged Sharpshooter? Pierce's Disease Research Symposium, San Diego, USA, December 15-17, pp. 66-69.

28. Irvin, N. A., Hoddle, M. S. 2007. Should Neoclassical Biological Control Agents from Argentina Be Released in California for Control of the Glassy-winged Sharpshooter? Pierce's Disease Research Symposium, San Diego, USA, December 12-14, pp. 90-93.

27. Irvin N. A., Hoddle. M. S. 2007. Evaluation of floral resources for enhancement of fecundity and fitness of Gonatocerus ashmeadi, an egg parasitoid of the glassy-winged sharpshooter, Homalodisca vitripennis. Biological Control 40: 80-88.

26. Irvin, N. A., Hoddle, M. S., Castle. S. J. 2007. The effect of resource provisioning and sugar composition of foods on longevity of three Gonatocerus spp., egg parasitoids of Homalodisca vitripennis. Biological Control 40: 69-79.

25. Hoddle, M. S., Irvin, N. A. 2006. Realized life time parasitism of glassy-winged sharpshooter egg masses by Gonatocerus ashmeadi. Pierce's Disease Research Symposium, San Diego, USA, November 27-29, 2006. pp. 80-83.

24. Irvin, N. A., Hoddle, M. S. 2006. The effect of intraspecific compeition on progeny sex ratio in Gonatocerus spp. for Homalodisca coagulata egg masses: economic implications for mass rearing and biological control. Biological Control 39: 162-170.

23. Irvin, N. A., Hoddle, M. S., Morgan, D. J. W. 2006. Competition between Gonatocerus ashmeadi and G. triguttatus for glassy-winged sharpshooter (Homalodisca coagulata) egg masses. Biocontrol Science and Technology 16 (4): 359-375.

22. Irvin, N. A., Wratten, S. D., Frampton, C. M., Chapman, R. B., Burnip, G., Suckling, M. 2006. The effects of apple understorey management on parasitoids of leafroller (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae) in New Zealand. Agricultural and Forest Entomology 8: 25-34.

21. Hoddle, M. S., Irvin, N. A. 2005. Realized life time parasitism of glassy-winged sharpshooter egg masses by Gonatocerus ashmeadi. Pierce's Disease Research Symposium, San Diego, USA, December 5-7, 2005. pp. 330-333.

20. Irvin, N. A., Hoddle, M. S. 2005. The competitive ability of three mymarid egg parasitoids (Gonatocerus spp.) for glassy-winged sharpshooter (Homalodisca coagulata) eggs. Biological Control 34: 204-214.

19. Irvin, N. A., Hoddle, M. S. 2005. Determination of Homalodisca coagulata (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae) egg ages suitable for oviposition by Gonatocerus ashmeadi, Gonatocerus triguttatus, and Gonatocerus fasciatus (Hymenoptera: Mymaridae). Biological Control 32: 391-400.

18. Pilkington L. J., Irvin, N. A., Boyd, E. A., Hoddle, M. S., Triapitsyn, S. V., Carey, B. G., Jones, W. A., Morgan, D. J. W. 2005. Introduced parasitic wasps could control glassy-winged sharpshooter. California Agriculture. 59 (4): 223-228.

17. Gurr, G. M., Scarratt, S. L., Wratten, S. D., Berndt, L., Irvin, N. A. 2004. Ecological engineering, habitat manipulation and pest management. In: Ecological Engineering for pest management: advances in habitat manipulation for arthropods. Gurr, G. M., Wratten, S. D, Altieri, M. A. (eds). pp. 1-12.

16. Irvin N. A., Hoddle, M. S. 2004. Oviposition preference of Homalodisca coagulata for two Citrus limon cultivars and influence of host plant on parasitism by Gonatocerus ashmeadi and G. triguttatus (Hymenoptera: Mymaridae). Florida Entomologist 87: 504-510.

15. Irvin, N. A., Hoddle, M. S., O’Brochta, D. A., Carey, B.P., Atkinson, P. W. 2004. Assessing fitness costs for transgenic Aedes aegypti expressing the green fluorescent protein marker and transposase genes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 101 (3): 891-896.

14. Pilkington, L. J., Irvin, N. A., Boyd, E. A., Hoddle, M. S., Triapitsyn, S. V., Carey, B. G., Morgan, D. J. W. 2004. Biological control of glassy-winged sharpshooter in California. In: Proceedings of the 4th California Conference on Biological Control, University of California, Berkeley, July 13-15, 2004. Hoddle, M. S. (ed.). pp. 133-136.

13. Scarratt, S. L., Wratten, S. D., Lavandero, B., Irvin, N. A. 2004. A hierarchy of research approaches to the successful use of "resource subsidies" to improve parasitoid performance. Proceedings of the IV California Conference of Biological Control, Berkeley, California, USA, 13-15 July, 2004. pp. 88-94.

12. Hoddle, M. S., Irvin, N. A. 2003. Interspecific competition between Gonatocerus ashmeadi, G. triguttatus and G. fasciatus for glassy-winged sharpshooter egg masses. Pierce's Disease Research Symposium, San Diego, USA, December 8 - 11, 2003. pp. 251-254.

11. Hoddle, M. S., Irvin, N. A. 2002. Interspecific competition between Gonatocerus ashmeadi and G. triguttatus for glassy-winged sharpshooter egg masses. Pierce's Disease Research Symposium, San Diego, USA, December 15 - 18, 2002. pp. 86-87.

10. Berndt, L., Gurr, G. M., Wratten, S. D., Irvin, N. A. 2001. An historical analysis of habitat manipulation research. 1st International Symposium on Biological Control of Arthropods, Hawaii, USA, 17-21 September 2001.

9. Irvin, N. A., Hoddle, M. S. 2001. Egg age preference and "window of susceptibility" of Homalodisca coagulata eggs to attack by Gonatocerus ashmeadi and G. triguttatus. Pierce's Disease Research Symposium, San Diego, USA, December 5 - 7, 2001. pp. 135-136.

8. Irvin, N. A., Wratten, S. D., Frampton, C. M. 2000. Understorey management for the enhancement of the leafroller parasitoid (Dolichogenidea tasmanica (Cameron)) in Canterbury, New Zealand orchards. Proceedings of the 4th International Hymenoptera Conference, held in Canberra, Australia, in January 1999. Hymenoptera: Evolution, Biodiversity and Biological Control. Austin, A. D.; Dowton, M (eds.). pp. 396-403.

7. Wratten, S. D., Gurr, G. M., Berndt, L., Irvin, N. A. 2000. Adding floral resources to agro-ecosystems: managing the consequences for third and fourth trophic levels. XXI International Congress of Entomology - XXI ICE, Brazil, August 2000.

6. Wratten, S. D., Gurr, G. M., Landis, D., Irvin, N. A., Berndt, L. A. 2000. Conservation biological control of Pests: Multi-trophic level effects. In: Californian Conference on Biological Control. Hoddle, M. (ed.). pp. 73-80.

5. Irvin, N. A. 1999. Understorey management for the enhancement of populations of a leafroller (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae) parasitoid (Dolichogenidea tasmanica (Cameron)) in Canterbury, New Zealand Apple Orchards. Doctor of Philosophy thesis, Lincoln University, Canterbury, New Zealand.

4. Irvin, N. A., Wratten, S. D., Chapman, R. B., Frampton, C. M. 1999. The effects of floral resources on longevity, populations and efficacy of the leafroller parasitoid (Dolichogenidea tasmanica (Cameron)) in apples. Proceedings of the New Zealand Plant Protection Conference 52: 84-88.

3. Irvin, N. A., Wratten, S. D., Frampton, C. M., Bowie, M. H., Evans, A. M., Moar, N. T. 1999. The phenology and pollen feeding of three hover fly (Diptera: Syrphidae) species in Canterbury, New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Zoology 26(2): 105-115.

2. Gurr, G. M., Wratten, S. D., Irvin, N. A., Hossain, Z., Baggen, L. R., Mensah, R. K., Walker, P. W. 1998. Habitat manipulation in Australasia: recent progress and prospects for adoption. Proceedings of the sixth Australasian Applied Entomological Research Conference, Brisbane, Australia: Pest Management - Future challenges, September 1998. 1: 225-235.

1. Irvin, N. A. 1996. Hover flies (Diptera: Syrphidae): Trap efficiency, phenology and pollen feeding. Honors dissertation, Lincoln University, Canterbury, New Zealand.

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