Research in the Bowers lab is broadly focused on how insects and plants interact with their environment, both biotic and abiotic. These interactions play pivotal roles in evolution and ecology and are key in structuring and maintaining communities and ecosystems. Research by my students and me uses a combination of field, greenhouse, garden and laboratory work to investigate the dynamics of these interactions from many perspectives, including behavior, evolution, ecology, physiology, and plant and insect chemistry. This research has its roots and context in attempts to understand how insect interactions evolve and are maintained.
Current projects include:
I am currently working to expand and update the Entomology Collection at the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History. Daily curatorial activities keep me quite busy.
My research interests focus on native bees, both diversity and natural history. The majority of my field experience with bee nesting biology centers on trap nesting solitary bees, specifically Hyleaus, Megachile, and cleptoparasitic Coelioxys.
Colorado is a fabulous place to work on bees because of the diverse habitats, floral resources, and the long history of bee researchers associated with the Front Range. I am currently compiling a list of the Bees of Colorado with John Ascher, Terry Griswold, and Cesar Nufio.
I am currently an adjoint curator in the Entomology Section of the Museum and have taught several courses in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department. Before arriving to Colorado, I coordinated graduate level field courses in Costa Rica for The Organization for Tropical Studies. By training, I am a behavioral ecologist and my previous research focused on understanding the reproductive decisions made by insects and their impacts on the reproductive success of female and their offspring. Currently, I am working on curating and databasing the Gordon Alexander Orthoptera Collection. With the information generated from this collection, we hope to begin a resurvey project to examine how climate change may insects along the Front Range and Rocky Mountain Region of Colorado.
I am currently working on several leafhopper projects. My research broadly includes investigating the host-plant relationships and biogeography of Auchenorrhyncha (leafhoppers and related insects) and I am working to make this information available on the web (preliminary examples for the genera Athysanella and Flexamia can been found on my website).
I am also working on the production of a master internet database, a single authoritative electronic library listing all of the world's species of leafhoppers. Funded by the Systematic Entomological Laboratory, this compendium of every known species will establish universal agreement of how leafhopper are named and how many exist. This project could also aid efforts to better understand their disease transmission potential and lead to a deeper understanding and appreciation of the natural world. In addition, I am actively curating University of Colorado's collection of Auchenorrhyncha (leafhoppers and related families) and adding to it with field collections and identification of undetermined specimens.
As a student in the Museum and Field Studies program, I am interested in collections-based research. As a life-long entomologist, I am also captivated by bumblebees. Thus, it is natural for me to combine these interests by producing a distribution map of Colorado bumblebees based on collection data. In addition to the distribution map, I'm also producing an illustrated key of Colorado's 23 bumblebee species and descriptions of each one. My thesis also includes elevational distributions and flight periods for each bee. To support citizen science (enthusiastic scientists hanging out in their backyards), I'm creating a website that helps people identify bumblebees based on their colors. My work will provide the baseline data for researchers studying bumblebees and their distributional changes in Colorado.
Marie Ann de la Fuente