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Alice Mockford

Postgraduate PhD Researcher

Institute of Science & the Environment

Contact Details

email: a.mockford@worc.ac.uk

tel:

Thesis title:

“Enhancing pest regulation by natural enemies in Spanish orange groves”

Qualifications:

BSc (hons) Biology, Cardiff University, 2011.

MSc Entomology with distinction, Harper Adams University, 2016. Conspecific host discrimination in Aphidius colemani Viereck: A behaviour and chemical investigation. 

External roles:

Associate editor Antenna, Royal Entomological Society.

 

Current research:

Alice is undertaking research in orange groves in Huelva, south eastern Spain. The project is jointly funded by the University of Worcester, Primafruit Ltd and Waitrose Plc. She is supervised by Dr Duncan Westbury (Director of studies, University of Worcester), Dr Alberto Urbaneja (Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Agrarias, IVIA) and Dr Kate Ashbrook (University of Worcester).  The three-year study will investigate the efficacy of a sown non-crop habitat of perennial species as a viable Conservation Biological Control (CBC) strategy in Sweet orange cultivars (Navel and Valencia Orange) in the Huelva region of Andalucía, Spain. The non-crop habitat was sown in autumn 2016 and included 12 flowering plant and two grass species native to Spain. It was established in alleyways between the rows of orange trees across four different orchards. The key aspect of the seed mix is to provide resources for natural enemies including floral resources (nectar and pollen) and alternative prey species for natural enemies.  Citrus production is affected by a diverse range of phytophagous pest species, which are typically managed in Spain via an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach, this includes the use of targeted insecticides and augmentative release of natural enemies (known as biological control agents). These methods help minimize impacts on non-target species, of which natural enemies are of particular significance. Habitat creation for the conservation of biological control agents is an additional IPM approach for use in citrus.

An integral focus will be on Californian Red Scale (Aonidiella aurantii), which is the principal pest in Sweet orange, and poses the most significant economic impact. Natural enemies of A. aurantii, both native and naturalized, exist in Spain, yet sustaining populations high enough to suppress outbreaks below the economical threshold has proven difficult. This research will involve field trials complemented by laboratory assays to investigate the efficacy of the sown non-crop habitat. It will also elucidate interactions between A. aurantii and its main natural enemies.