Episode 8 with Dr. Lee Dyer and Danielle Salcido

Around the world, people have been noticing the decline of many species of insects. Cleaner windshields, fewer fireflies brightening our summer evenings, and bug-zappers gathering dust on garage shelves provide some anecdotal evidence documenting this gradual decline. Now researchers are applying the rigor of the scientific method to confirm (or refute) what has been coined “the insect apocalypse” – in very diverse ecosystems—all over the planet. Dr. Lee Dyer and his team, now including PhD candidate Dani Salcido, have been studying factors that influence insect populations for over 25 years—particularly caterpillars and the parasitoid wasps and host plants that interact with the caterpillars in complex ways. Watch Lee and Dani as they share some of their research findings from the U.S., Central and South America, which landed their research on the May 2020 cover of National Geographic.



Dr. Lee Dyer

Lee Dyer, Ph.D,
Professor of Biology, University of Nevada, Reno

Dr. Lee Dyer is an ecologist who has worked with a variety of organisms in the tropics for the past 26 years and in temperate areas for the past 30 years. He received a B.S.in biochemistry and English from the University of California at Santa Barbara and a Ph.D. in ecology from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Lee was previously a postdoctoral researcher at UC Santa Cruz and a professor at Mesa State College in Colorado and Tulane University in New Orleans. He is now a professor in the Biology Department at the University of Nevada, Reno. Lee spends his free time hanging out with his sons, rock climbing, listening to music, and reading books. He is in charge of all aspects of the project, and his specialties relevant to the project are statistical modeling, community ecology, caterpillar natural history, and basic natural products chemistry.

Danielle Salcido

Danielle Salcido
Doctoral Student, University of Nevada, Reno

Danielle Salcido is a PhD candidate at the University of Nevada, Reno in Lee A. Dyer's lab. Her research focuses on patterns of interaction diversity among caterpillars, their host-plants and parasitoids across various gradients including climatic, latitudinal, and disturbance gradients. After participating as an Earthwatch volunteer in 2010 for Dr. Lee Dyer’s Caterpillars and Climate Change project in Ecuador, she was inspired to take a hiatus from her career teaching high school biology and pursue a graduate degree with Lee. Danielle has since facilitated numerous Earthwatch teams in Ecuador, Costa Rica, Arizona and Nevada as a part of her field research and research on the value of immersive citizen science programs. She finds greatest enjoyment in roles that bridge science and research with the public and feels very fortunate to have been partnered with Earthwatch supported research!

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Tracking Caterpillars in Tropical Forests


Tracking Caterpillars in Tropical Forests

How much can the humble caterpillar tell us about the world we live in? More than you might imagine.

North America South America: La Selva Biological Station, Costa Rica or Yanayacu Biological Station, Ecuador, South America
Lead Scientist: Lee Dyer, Ph.D.
Duration: 9 days (avg. $292 a day)




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