Lynne Rieske-Kinney
Professor, Forest Entomology

Professional Profile

Dr. Lynne Rieske-Kinney (PhD University of Wisconsin, 1995) has been the Forest Entomologist in the Department of Entomology at University of Kentucky for over 20 years.

My research lab broadly addresses issues associated with forest health, focusing primarily on invasion dynamics of non-native forest pests, evaluating alterations in trophic relationships, and effects on forest composition and structure associated with forest disturbances. Forest insect pests such as emerald ash borer and southern pine beetle have significant effects on forest composition and structure, with implications for trophic interactions, conservation and restoration efforts, and global carbon sinks. Innovative management approaches and a greater understanding of forest dynamics are needed to assure the health of our future forests. We apply ecological principles to understand forest changes associated with species’ invasions, and we’re developing innovative approaches for management strategies to minimize losses.

For more information on our research see the Rieske-Kinney lab web page.

Current projects:

• Gene silencing in emerald ash borer. We are evaluating the feasibility of using gene silencing as a means of suppressing emerald ash borer, Agrilus planipennis (EAB). We’ve shown that RNA interference (RNAi) can cause rapid and extensive beetle mortality; we are evaluating methods of delivery and assessing potential non-target effects.

• Gene silencing in southern pine beetle. We have determined that the endemic southern pine beetle, Dendroctonus frontalis (SPB), is susceptible to RNAi, and are evaluating additional genes, assessing geographic variability, investigating delivery methods, and assessing potential non-target effects.

• Invasion dynamics of emerald ash borer. We are evaluating aspects of the EAB invasion, including:

◦ Host range expansion. We’re investigating the role of a novel host, white fringetree, Chionanthus viriginicus, on the effectiveness of EAB’s classical biological control agents.

◦ Trophic linkages. Developmental asynchrony between EAB and its classical biocontrol agents complicates implementation of an effective biological control program.

• Asian chestnut gall wasp and chestnut restoration. We are evaluating behavioral and ecological aspects of Asian chestnut gall infestations to help minimize losses. For more information on our research see the Rieske-Kinney lab web page.

Additional projects:

• Urban Forest Initiative. Co-founder and co-leader of the Urban Forest Initiative (UFI) which advocates for urban trees on the UK campus and beyond. UFI’s accomplishments include:

◦ Promoting tree stewardship through volunteer opportunities. Link.

◦ Developing a cross-disciplinary Urban and Community Forestry Certificate for UK undergraduates.

◦ Enhancing Tree Campus USA efforts at UK and surrounding campuses.

◦ Administering an Adopt-a-Tree program for K-college students to teach ecosystem benefits and provide a mechanism to connect with nature.

◦ Free campus and community workshops and free public lectures that engage the broader community in an understanding of the value and care of urban trees, and create opportunities for community building.

• Healthy Trees – Healthy People. Healthy Trees – Healthy People is an outreach and education program to train citizen scientists in exotic pest detection, tree identification and tree health. The program provides a mechanism to connect people to nature, while engaging and empowering them to take charge of their physical activity and their personal health.

Courses Taught

Forest Entomology (ENT/FOR 502). 3 credit hours; Fall semester annually.

Two lectures weekly primarily address principles and entomological concepts, including identification and basic biology of major insect groups, the roles of insects in forest ecosystems, basic ecosystem services affected by insects, diagnosis of major types of forest insect pest problems, and integrating concepts in forest pest population biology and ecology with mitigation and management strategies.

Weekly labs use a hands-on approach to demonstrate insect collecting and identification techniques, ecological concepts and management approaches, and use of reference materials. 

Invasive Species Biology (ENT/FOR/BIO 667). 3 credits; Fall semester, odd years. Two 90-minute lectures/discussions weekly.

This course examines circumstances that allow introduced organisms to become invasive, examines specific introductions (past and present) threatening our resources, and investigates current and future steps to reduce the incidence and impact of invasive species. The first portion of the semester is instructor-driven, and consists of lectures covering historical faunal realms prior to human intervention; economic and political forces that set the stage for invasions; biology and ecology of invaders and invasiveness; susceptibility to and risks of invasions; and consequences of invasion. We cover intentional and accidental invasions of various taxa, including arthropods, vertebrates, plants, pathogens, etc. In the second portion of the semester students research and present case studies covering invasive species impacting various systems, from aquatic and forest systems, agroecosystems, threats to animal and human health, threats to biological diversity and ecosystem conservation. Our purpose is to develop insight into the biology and ecology of biological invasions so as to gain an understanding of current and emerging means of minimizing their impact.

For more information see the Rieske-Kinney lab web page.