Joelene Tamm, 2023 Scholarship Recipient


Joelene Tamm

2023 Scholarship Recipient

Joelene Tamm is a fourth-year master’s student in the Entomology Department at UC Riverside. Joelene’s interest in entomology began with a summer job inspecting insect traps for invasive pests at the California Department of Food and Agriculture while completing her B.S. in Biology at California Baptist University. At the CDFA, Joelene learned that biological control of invasive insects reduces insecticide use and can be an effective long-term management tool. When she returned to school, Joelene volunteered with the La Jolla Band of Luiseño Indians to help protect their oak woodlands from the goldspotted oak borer (GSOB), Agrilus auroguttatus (Coleoptera: Buprestidae).

GSOB is an invasive forest pest in California. Since its detection in the early 2000s, this small beetle, native to Arizona, has killed over 80,000 native oak trees. California’s native oak-dominated forests are heavily composed of “red oaks” Quercus kelloggii, Q. agrifolia, and Q. chrysolepis (i.e., California black oak, coast live oak, and canyon live oak, respectively), which are extraordinarily vulnerable to attack by GSOB.

An estimated $200 million (USD) has been spent removing oak trees killed by this pest. GSOB infestations are terminal for susceptible species of oak. Tree removal and mechanical destruction of infested wood can effectively eliminate GSOB risk from infested wood. Due to the cost, special equipment, and training required, these methods are challenging to implement on large tracts of rugged terrain. Unfortunately, these efforts have not decreased the zone of infestation or the rate of spread which is driven primarily by the human-assisted movement of GSOB-infested oak firewood into previously uninfested areas.

Disheartened by learning the only treatments are timely annual applications of contact insecticides sprayed on trunks to kill adults and systemic applications of neonicotinoids to kill larvae feeding on the cambium, Joelene enrolled at UC Riverside to research landscape-level management options for goldspotted oak borer A. auroguttatus, which now includes investigating potential biological control organisms and prescribed burning.

Early on, Joelene realized that research on landscape-level management tools, such as biological control, will be essential for the survival of California’s oak woodlands. With respect to biological control research, Joelene has field-collected and reared two potential biological control agents for A auroguttatus: Balcha indica and Calosota elongata (both larval parasitoids; Hymenoptera: Eupelmidae).

Funding provided by the Harry Scott Smith Scholarship will help support Joelene’s research on the biological control of A. auroguttatus and allow her to disseminate her research findings at professional conferences and to conduct field and lab studies on natural enemies of GSOB.  

Joelene's scholarship is made possible in part by these 2023 donations

A special thanks to Carol and Logan Hardison, Dr. John and Mrs. Janet Kabashima, Retha Keennan (in memory of Ray Keenan), Dr. George Markin, Gary and Kathy Veeh, Susan and Donald Deardorff, Claudia Giardina, Phil and Robin Tognazzini, Gary Cavigla and Crystal Cove Farms, and Robert, Sue Cooley, Dr. George Markin, Claudia Giardina, and the Southern California Chapter of CAPCA.

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