IALC Peace Fellowship Report
3 June-12 August 1997
Cara A. Saunders
College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
IALC Peace Fellowship Research Tour
Visits with Research Scientists
Preparations and Training
My IALC Peace Fellowship project involved collecting vector insects as
part of the IALC-funded project Impact of Water Capture on the Dynamics
of Plant Virus Vectors, headed by Dr. Michael Irwin of the University
of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Dr. Benny Raccah of the Volcani Center,
Israel. After my nomination as IALC Peace Fellow was approved...I reviewed
the research that had been conducted to date and studied the relevant
background material. Dr. Michael Irwin and I discussed and planned the
details and requirements of the project. I was trained to assemble the
insect-collecting traps and to determine which locations were most appropriate
for placing them. I also learned how to collect and identify the specimens
necessary for the research.
Contacts in Israel
The research site for this project was at the Shezaf Nature Reserve,
Hazeva, Israel. The Hazeva Research and Development (R&D) Center,
connected to the Field School of the Society for the Protection of Nature
in Israel, is located just outside this reserve. Ilan Yarom, director
of the Hazeva R&D Center, provided access to a laboratory and living
accommodations. Dr. Benny Raccah, from the Volcani Center, served as my
advisor throughout the fellowship. I visited his office to discuss the
progress of my research and to present any problems or complications in
My project focused on the insect vectors of plant viruses which are present
in desert agriculture. These vectors include aphids, whiteflies, thrips
and leafhoppers. The first section of the research was an experiment geared
towards sampling the abundance of these populations. The second part of
the research aimed to draw a connection between the species and their
natural host plants.
For the experiment, I used Maliase traps to provide information about
the daytime presence of insect species, placing the traps in three locations
in the reserve. These traps were checked daily and the specimens were
collected. The second collection method was a light trap, to provide information
on the nighttime abundance of the insect species. In order to research
the connection of the insect vectors to their host plants I sampled various
desert plants and collected specimens from them manually using a net.
Processing and Analysis
After collection, the insect specimens were sent back to Dr. Irwin's
laboratory at the University of Illinois. The plant species were identified
with the assistance of a local botanist from the field school in Hazeva.
The collected specimens and their related data will be analyzed by Dr.
Irwin and his staff and incorporated into their overall research project.