Recommendations for Future Work

Pollinator Exclusion Experiments

In the case of V. globulare, one direction for future research is an exploration of the roles various flower visitors play in pollination and fruit set. Not all floral visits result in pollination and effectiveness in pollination varies by insect and plant species. Pollinator exclusion experiments (Kearnes and Inouye 1993) would be valuable in analyzing the costs and benefits to the plant of floral visits by different organisms and could help determine which insects are necessary for maximum pollination and fruit set and which might disrupt effective pollination.

Leafhopper Study

The Cicadellidae are a large group of insects that have the potential to impact V. globulare productivity through foliage damage or by vectoring pathogens. The leafhopper fauna of Montana (especially in the forests of Montana) remains poorly known and, because many of these insects tend to specialize on a narrow range of host plants (Le Quesne and Payne 1981), a survey of Montana’s unstudied/understudied habitats may reveal new species and new host associations. Specifically, the V. globulare / D. carneola association is one that should be addressed, since D. carneola is a known vector of Western-X disease (Kaloostian 1952).

Hemiptera Survey

The role of L. hesperus as an agricultural pest is well known (Zalom et al. 2014), but less is known of its impact on forest plants or wild, specialty crops like V. globulare. A more focused study of the hemipterans associated with V. globulare and their impact on productivity would be valuable. Additionally, because L. hesperus was only collected at one site in the current study, and that site was one with a great deal of human traffic, a look at the role of humans in the spread of pest species from agricultural fields to natural habitats may be valuable.

Natural History of Anthomyiidae

The Anthomyiidae collected from the V. globulare plants are of interest because some genera of this family are known to be associated with Vaccinium (Jones et al. 2014). A natural history study that more closely observes the behaviors of these flies (e.g. when and where they oviposit and if there are larvae in the roots or stems) could uncover the nature of their relationship with V. globulare.

Obervations of New Pristiphora Species

Observations of V. globulare plants for additional individuals of the previously undescribed Pristiphora species would also be of interest. Nothing is yet known about the range, life span, mating, ovipositing, or overwintering habits of this sawfly. Attempts to observe and measure these activities, as well as to rear larvae from fruit and look for associations with other nearby plants would help elucidate the role of V. globulare as this species’ primary host plant.