A little introduction

Photo credit Hemayat Chowdhury

My name is Milo Johnson and I’m a rising senior at Dartmouth College.  I’m a biology major currently working in Professor Matthew Ayres lab, a lab that focuses on forest ecology and specifically pine beetles.  This summer I’ll be spending some time in the New Jersey Pinelands, where the Ayres lab does field research on the Southern Pine Beetle and its effect on forests.


5 thoughts on “A little introduction

  1. Hi Milo,
    Cool site. Just viewed your time lapse SPB video. How long did it actually take it to borrow? Was it into a log or a tree? Look forward to the view from the phloem sandwich to see how it interacts with it’s fungal associates.
    ~cheers Tracy

    • Hi Tracy, thanks so much for checking it out! It’s great to know there’s some people out there seeing this stuff. That whole video took place over about 40 minutes. It was in a piece of a tree under plexiglass (the phloem sandwich idea). I just made 3 more today so I’m hoping to get some more footage, and if there was fungi involved I would be thrilled. We tried to put one male and one female in so we might be able to observe real gallery carving and the life cycle starting, but so far it has been difficult to get the beetles to act normally in this non-normal environment. But I think we’re getting better, so with some luck we’ll have some cool stuff to show you soon.

  2. Hi Milo-So cool to see your site! Hope you are well 🙂
    So, I am working on a climate change unit discussing local and global impacts and implications with my 8th graders right now, I’m going to use your cool videos for part of this unit! We are discussing pine beetles but MPB, not SPB. How closely related are these in how they burrow and affect pines? Or are differences more related to the differences in types of pines?
    Thanks!! Anne Gallager-West

    • Hi Anne,

      That’s so awesome! Thanks for using the videos.

      Sorry I’ve been slow to respond – MPB are closely related to but definitely different than SPB. I think your two questions are the kinds of questions other researchers are asking too – pines vs. beetles, which is the big difference, because they are mostly lodgepole pines out west I think vs. loblolly, pitch, and virginia pine in the south east. I think MPB burrows in a similar way but it has difference fungus associated with it and is attacking bigger trees, which both could be reasons that the trees die and drop their needles slower out west.

      I’m not really an expert, but I think the biggest difference is actually the way we control them. In the southeast they are used to cutting down trees and quarantining spots and they are very good at controlling it to prevent big outbreaks. A lot of that is possible because it’s flat, there are roads everywhere, and there’s infrastructure to process and sell the wood. It’s just not feasible to send crews into the mountains of colorado to check out each spot and cut down trees. In NJ, it’s relatively easy, and it would be hard to find a spot more than a mile from the road.

      Hope that helps and hope to see you soon,


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