Dr. Esquivel, Isaac L.
Assistant Professor: Entomology
Agroecosystems – Agronomic and Forage Crops
Dr. Esquivel is an agronomic and forage crop entomologist interested in the spatial dynamics of plant-pest-natural enemy-pollinator-interactions driven by landscape structure and composition. A major focus of his research integrates approaches from landscape ecology and incorporates new tools such as geographic information systems and remote sensing systems into improved pest management systems. He is interested in priority and emerging pest management issues relevant to the Florida panhandle (piercing-sucking pests of cotton and peanut) while balancing other ecological and economic values and objectives in the extant agroecosystem. Including biological control services provided by natural enemies and pollination services provided by pollinators contributing to local, regional, and national goals in pest management and pollinator health.
Dr Esequiel's research focus is in the following areas:
- Landscape Ecology
- Spatial Dynamics of Insects
- Plant-Insect Interactions
- Pollinator ecology
Esquivel’s research focuses on basic and applied components in three areas described below:
Spatial Dynamics of agricultural pest and beneficial insects: strategies to improve pest management
Agricultural landscapes (agroecosystems) of many row and forage crops are affected by anthropogenic intensification this upscaling of field sizes and modifying semi-natural lands into variable-sized managed fields planted separately to several crops. The fragments of semi-natural habitats and field margins within agricultural landscapes often play vital roles in landscape function. They can provide essential resources such as pollen, nectar, alternative hosts, and overwintering sites for natural enemies necessary for pest control services. Every dimension of pest control, from natural enemy abundance, and pest pressure, to crop yields, has shown associations with the surrounding landscape. However, there is significant variation among the association of different landscape variables on insect responses. Efforts to develop pest management tools would benefit from understanding how landscape effects are influenced by local farm management and the natural history of the specific pest in question in a region. My interests here include determining the role of pests on sustainability and crop productivity through their role in yield loss, direct and indirect management costs, and crop stand establishment and longevity using a landscape approach to management.
Promoting Native Bee Pollinators in Agroecosystems:
The diversity and abundance of native pollinators are essential in providing pollination services to a diverse array of crops, many of which receive pollination or unknown pollination benefits from native bees. We wish to consider a joint bee conservation and crop management concept, which may ultimately represent a win-win for bee conservation and crop productivity. Following the landscape effects above, I am interested in the effects of landscape/climate change on native bee diversity and populations. I am also interested in the mechanisms underlying synergistic interactions among native bee pollinator species and other pollinators for maximal pollination of crops.
Use of G.I.S. and Remote Sensing:
Geographic information systems and remote sensing, which are often described as “technology” provide ecologists and entomologists the ease of storing, retrieving, processing, analyzing, and displaying spatial data and images. Many questions in ecology and plant protection have spatial components, whether you study the dynamics of hosts and natural enemies or the prediction of regional pest-related risks. However, these tools can only be fully exploited when used in conjunction with traditional monitoring and research techniques (i.e., trapping) that provide knowledge of an insect’s biology and ecology. I am interested in incorporating these techniques into my research program.
Dr. Esquivel's extension focus is in the following areas:
- Agronomic and Forage Crops
- Crop Protection
- Development of Best Management Practices
Dr. Esquivel’s extension program seeks to incorporate findings from his research program and develop improved management practices for grower clientele. Main objectives include:
- Develop a working relationship with the county and regional extension agents to identify and address needs in pest management of agronomic and forage crops
- Provide research-based information in a form relevant to producers through extension outlets
- Update and deliver best management practices for field and forage crops