Jon Sweeney - Chemical Ecology of Invasive Species

Jon Sweeney

Name: Jon Sweeney
Field of Expertise: Chemical Ecology of Invasive Species
Education:Ph.D. in Forest Entomology, University of British Columbia
Works at: Natural Resources Canada’s Atlantic Forestry Centre in Fredericton, New Brunswick

What he studies

Dr. Sweeney studies behaviour and population ecology of forest insect pests and develops methods for reducing their impact on Canada’s forests. Working with a team that includes synthetic chemists, ecologists and entomologists, his research focuses on the development of pheromone-based tools for surveillance and control of invasive species such as the brown spruce longhorn beetle.

What is the importance of his research?

The results of research by Dr. Sweeney and his colleagues have greatly improved the effectiveness of surveys used to detect the brown spruce longhorn beetle as well as other longhorn beetles. Their research has also influenced decisions regarding invasive species regulatory policies by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Interesting fact

Dr. Sweeney and his team observed that longhorn beetle males recognized females by using their antennae to identify specific compounds found on the insect’s cuticle, or outer skeleton. Called “contact pheromones’’, these compounds drive the male to mate with the female. Dr. Sweeney’s research has observed that the male insect will respond to the pheromone with mating behaviour even when the female is deceased. This could potentially help in the development of pheromone-based population control tools.

Current research projects

Development of pheromone-based tactics for suppression of brown spruce longhorn beetle populations.
Knowledge of brown spruce longhorn beetle population and community ecology.
Development of tools for improved national surveillance and early detection of invasive alien forest insects.

Key publications

Flaherty, L., J.D. Sweeney, D. Pureswaran, and D.T. Quiring. (2011). Influence of host tree condition on the performance of Tetropium fuscum (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae). Environmental Entomology, 40, 1200–1209.

Silk, P.J., J. Sweeney, J. Wu, S. Sopow, P. D. Mayo, and D. MaGee. (2011). Contact pheromones identified for two longhorned beetles (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae) Tetropium fuscum and T. cinnamopterum in the sub-Family Spondylidinae. Environmental Entomology 40, 714–726.

Sweeney, J.D., P.J. Silk, J.M. Gutowski, J. Wu, M.A. Lemay, P. D. Mayo, and D. I. Magee. (2010). Effect of chirality, release rate, and host volatiles on response of Tetropium fuscum (F.), Tetropium cinnamopterum (Kirby), and Tetropium castaneum (L.) (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae) to the aggregation pheromone, fuscumol. Journal of Chemical Ecology, 36, 1309–1321.

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