Mary Barbercheck, Ph.D.

Professor of Entomology


    Soil Entomology and Ecology
    Sustainable and Organic Agriculture
    Insect Pathology
    Women and Gender in Science
    Women and Agriculture



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    About Me

    Current Post-doctoral Researchers:

    John Wallace (co-supervised with W. Curran, Department of Plant Sciences)

    Ebony Murrell (supervised by J. Kaye, ESM)

    Department Focus Area:

    Ecological applications, disease ecology and biology

    Research Programs & Interests:

    Biological soil quality and sustainability - A major area of emphasis in my research program is on the impact of agricultural practices on soil biodiversity and function. Soil organisms are tightly linked functionally to above-ground interactions and are involved in ecosystem processes such as nutrient cycling, carbon storage, maintenance of plant diversity, biological control of human and agricultural pests, and bioremediation, and therefore, are of critical importance to ecosystem function and productivity. Agricultural management has generally been driven by production at the expense of the environment and, in many cases, the use of pesticides and fertilizers has masked the importance of soil biota. Consequently, there is a lack of data on the value of services provided by soil arthropods in maintaining soil structure, soil fertility, antagonism and control of pest organisms, and in mediating processes such as decomposition and mineralization. This information will be critical as the use of synthetic inputs in agriculture become more restricted and/or less desirable. The long-term goal is to identify practices that encourage productivity and minimize costs associated with synthetic inputs and damage from insect pests.

    Biology and ecology of entomopathogenic nematodes and fungi - Entomopathogenic nematodes and fungi important natural mortality factors for soil-dwelling insect pests, and currently the ones with the greatest potential for successful commercial use. The goal of my research on entomopathogenic nematodes and fungi has been to clarify aspects of their biology and ecology that relates to their successful use as conserved or applied biological control agents. Projects have ranged from very practical to fairly basic - from efficacy trials to the effects of insect food plant on the biology and ecology of entomopathogenic nematodes and the effects of selection on several aspects of their biology. Another current area of emphasis is the impact of agricultural practices on the occurrence and abundance of entomopathogenic nematodes and fungi.

    International Programs/Experience:

    International Teaching: Insect Nematology. Short Course on Insect Pathology for Central America and Mexico. Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Dec. 6-11, 1999.

    International Research:

    Rivers, A., M. Barbercheck, B. Govaerts and N. Verhulst. 2016. Conservation agriculture practices contribute to an even arthropod predator assemblage and increased predation in a rainfed maize-wheat system. Applied Soil Ecology 100: 81-90

    Eben, A.U. and M. E. Barbercheck. 1997. Mexican Diabroticites: I. Laboratory tests on host breadth of Acalymma and Diabrotica spp. Entomol. Exp. Appl. 82: 53-62.

    Eben, A.U. and M. E. Barbercheck. 1997. Mexican Diabroticites: II. Tests for preference of cucurbit hosts by Acalymma and Diabrotica spp. Entomol. Exp. Appl. 82: 63-72.

    Eben, A.U. and M. E. Barbercheck. 1996. Sculpturing of the eggshell of some Mexican diabroticites (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae). Coleopterists Bull. 51: 80-85.

    Eben, A.U. , M. E. Barbercheck & M. Aluja. 1996. Field observations on host plant associations and natural enemies of diabroticite beetles (Chrysomelidae: Luperini) in Veracruz, Mexico. Acta Zoologica Mexicana: 67: 47-65

    1982-85, Agricultural Researcher (Nematology), Plant Protection Research Institute, Stellenbosch, South Africa

    Barbercheck, M.E. 1986. Control of Meloidogyne javanica in dormant grapevine nursery stock (research note). Phytophylactica 18: 39 - 40.

    Barbercheck, M.E. and Heyns, J. 1986. Occurrence of Xiphinema in South African plant improvement vineyards. Phytophylactica 18: 59 - 61.

    Barbercheck, M.E. and Von Broembsen, S.L. 1986. Effects of soil solarization on plant-parasitic nematodes and Phytophthora cinnamomi in South Africa. Plant Disease 70: 945 - 950.

    Barbercheck, M.E., Smith, P.C., and Heyns, J. 1985. Occurrence and distribution of Xiphinema in vineyards of the Bree River Valley. Phytophylactica 17: 27 - 30.

    International Presentations:

    Randhawa, P., I. Ahmed, D. Luthe, M. Barbercheck. 2016. Uncovering the effects of cover crops and soil characteristics on Metarhizium-plant-insect interactions in an organic cropping system. Society for Invertebrate Pathology Annual Meeting, Tours, France, July 25, 2016.

    Barbercheck, M.E., C. Mullen. 2014. The seedcorn maggot and Metarhizium are related to maize yield in an organic, cover crop-based farming systems experiment. Society for Invertebrate Pathology Annual Meeting, Mainz, Germany. Aug. 3-7, 2014.

    Barbercheck, M.E., C. Mullen. 2013. Occurrence of Metarhizium anisopliae in an organic, rotational no-till cropping system. Society for Invertebrate Pathology Annual Meeting, Pittsburgh, PA. August 12-18, 2013.

    Ellis, K. E., M.Barbercheck. 2013. Evaluation of native bee visitation and floral resources of early-season canola (Brassica napus) cover crop mixtures. 2013 International Conference on Pollinator Biology, Health and Policy. August 14-17, 2013. University Park, PA

    Barbercheck, M. E. 2011. The real dirt: Harry Kaya's influence on entomopathogenic nematode ecology. Invited presentation for cross-divisional symposium: “The careers of Harry Kaya and Lerry Lacey: High impacts on science and scientists. Aug. 8 – 11, 2011. International Congress of Invertebrate Pathology & Microbial Control, Halifax, Nova Scotia

    Jabbour, R., Barbercheck, M. 2008. Habitat complexity effects on nematode movement in maize. Annual Meeting of the Society for Invertebrate Pathology, Coventry, UK, August 3 - 7, 2008.

    Trauger, A., C. Sachs, M. Barbercheck, K. Braiser and N. E. Kiernan. 2008. “Our market is our community”: women farmers and civic agriculture in Pennsylvania, USA, Agriculture, Food and Human Values, Victoria, BC.

    Jabbour, R., Barbercheck, M., Mullen, C. 2007. Effect of soil management on naturally occurring entomopathogenic fungi during the transition to an organic farming system J. Society for Invertebrate Pathology Annual Meeting, Quebec, Canada, August 2007

    Barbercheck, M.E., and C. M. Greenwood, 2004. Response of soil fauna to inundatively and cadaver-applied entomopathogenic nematodes (Invited Symposium Paper) Society for Invertebrate Pathology 37th Annual Meeting, Helsinki, Finland, Aug. 1-5, 2004.

    Barbercheck, M.E., J. Wang and C. Brownie. Adaptation of entomopathogenic nematodes to insect food plant. VIII International Colloquium on Invertebrate Pathology and Microbial Control. XXXV Annual Meeting of the Society for Invertebrate Pathology. August 18 to 23, 2002. Foz do Iguassu, Brazil.

    Koenning, S. and M.E. Barbercheck Influence of diverse agricultural systems on the population dynamics of free-living, plant-parasitic and entomopathogenic nematodes. Fourth International Congress of Nematology, 2002, Teneriffe.

    Barbercheck, M.E. , Mueller, P. et al. Desarrollo y Implementacion de un Estudio de Sistemas Agricolas al Gran Escala y Larga Duracion. I Simposio Internacional sobre Ganaderia Agroecologica, La Habana, Cuba, 6-8 December, 2001.

    Barbercheck, M.E. , Mueller, P. et al. Investigaciones Sobre la Ecologia del Suelo en el Centro de Sistemas Agricolas Ambientales. IV Taller Internacional sobre Recursos Fitogeneticos, Sancti Spiritus, Cuba, 3-4 December, 2001.

    Newman, C.M. & M. Barbercheck. 2000. Interaction between soil mites and entomopathogenic nematodes. ESA Annual Meeting, Dec. 3-7, 2000. Montreal, Canada

    Barbercheck, M.E. 2000. Evaluation of non-target effects of native and introduced entomopathogenic nematodes. COST 819 Symposium on Entomopathogenic Nematode Bacterial Complexes - Current Achievements and Prospects for the Future, Maynooth, Ireland, 12-16 April, 2000.

    Barbercheck, M.E., L. C. Millar. 1999. Non-Target Effects of Entomopathogenic Nematodes. IOBC International Symposium "Evaluating Indirect Effects of Biological Control. 10/17-20, 1999. Montpellier, France

    Barbercheck, M.E. and J. Wang. 1997. Insect host plant effects on the biology of entomopathogenic nematodes. Annual Meeting of the Society for Invertebrate Pathology, Banff, Canada, Aug.24-29, 1997

    Barbercheck, M.E. 1994. Tritrophic level effects on entomopathogenic nematodes. VIth International Colloquium on Invertebrate Pathology and Microbial Control, Montpellier, France, August 1994.

    Barbercheck, M.E. 1985. The effect of soil solarization, fallow, and EDB fumigation on plant-parasitic nematodes. Nematological Society of Southern Africa, Stellenbosch, SA, 1985

    Relevant Publications:

    Rivers, A., M. Barbercheck, B. Govaerts and N. Verhulst. 2016. Conservation agriculture practices contribute to an even arthropod predator assemblage and increased predation in a rainfed maize-wheat system. Applied Soil Ecology 100: 81-90.

    Sachs, C.E., M. Barbercheck, K. Brasier, N.E. Kiernan, A. R. Terman. 2016. The Rise of Women Farmers Sustainable Agriculture. University of Iowa Press.

    Ellis, K., Barbercheck, M. 2015. Management of overwintering cover crops influences floral resources and visitation by native bees. Environmental Entomol. 44 (4): 999-1010. DOI:

    Jabbour, R., T. Pisani-Gareau, R. G. Smith, C. Mullen, M. Barbercheck. 2015. Tillage mediates legacy effects of cover crops on ground-dwelling arthropods during organic transition. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems 31(4): 361-374. DOI:

    Schipanski, M.E., M. Barbercheck, M. R. Douglas, D. M. Finney, K. Haider, J. P. Kaye, A. R. Kemanian, D. A. Mortensen, M. R. Ryan, J. Tooker, C. White. 2015. A framework for evaluating ecosystem services provided by cover crops in agroecosystems. Agricultural Systems 125: 12-22.

    Schipanski, M., R.G Smith, T.L. Pisani-Gareau, R. Jabbour, D.B. Lewis; M.E. Barbercheck, D. A. Mortensen, J.P. Kaye. 2015. The structure of multivariate relationships influencing crop yields during the transition to organic management. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 189: 119-126.

    Stuart, R.J., M.E. Barbercheck, P.S. Grewal. 2015. Entomopathogenic Nematodes in the Soil Environment: Distributions, interactions and the influence of biotic and abiotic factors. Ch. 4, pp. 97-136. In "Nematode Pathogenesis Of Insects And Other Pests - Ecology And Applied Technologies For Sustainable Plant And Crop Protection.” R. Campos-Herrera, ed., Springer.

    Barbercheck, M., K. Brasier, N. E. Kiernan, C. Sachs, A. Trauger. 2014. Use of conservation practices by women farmers in the Northeastern United States. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems 29(1): 65 -82.

    Wyer, M., M. Barbercheck, D. Cookmeyer, H. Ozturk, M. Wayne (Editors). 2014. Women, Science, and Technology: A Reader in Feminist Science Studies, 3rd Edition. 600 pp. Routledge Taylor & Francis Group

    Kiernan, N.E., M.E. Barbercheck, K.J. Brasier, C. Sachs. 2012. Women farmers: Pulling up their own educational boot straps with Extension. Journal of Extension 50 (5): 5RIB5.

    Campos-Herrera, R., M. Barbercheck, C.W. Hoy, S.P. Stock. 2012. Entomopathogenic nematodes as a model system for advancing the frontiers of ecology. Journal of Nematology 44(2): 162-176.

    Neher, D., T. Weicht, M. Barbercheck. 2012. Linking invertebrate communities to decomposition rate and nitrogen availability in pine forest soils. Applied Soil Ecology 54:14-23.

    Barbercheck, M., N.E. Kiernan, A.G. Hulting, S. Duiker, J. Hyde, H. Karsten, E. Sanchez. 2012. Meeting the "multi-" requirements in organic agriculture research: Successes, challenges, and recommendations for multifunctional, multidisciplinary, participatory projects. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems 27:93-106

    Lewis, D.B., J.P. Kaye, R. Jabbour, M.E. Barbercheck. 2011. Labile soil carbon accumulates under reduced tillage during agroecosystem transition into organic management. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems 26: 342-353.

    Greenwood, C. M., M.E. Barbercheck, C. Brownie. 2011. Short term response to soil microinvertebrates to application of entomopathogenic nematode-infected insects in two tillage systems. Pedobiologia 54: 177-186.

    Jabbour, R., and M. E. Barbercheck. 2011. Soil microarthropod response to the application of entomopathogenic nematode-killed insects in maize and flower strip habitats. Pedobiologia 54: 243 - 251.

    Smith, R. G., M. Barbercheck, D. Mortensen, J. Hyde, A. Hulting. 2011. Effects of cover crop and tillage system on crop yields, weed abundance and net returns during the transition to organic feed grain production. Agronomy Journal 103:51-59.

    Smith, R. G., T. Gareau, D. Mortensen, W. Curran, M. Barbercheck. 2011. Assessing and visualizing management practices: A multivariable hands-on approach for education and extension. Weed Technology 25: 680-687.

    Ward, M. J., M. R. Ryan, W. S. Curran, M. E. Barbercheck, D. A. Mortensen. 2011. Cover crops and disturbance influence activity-density of weed seed predators Amara aenea and Harpalus pensylvanicus (Coleoptera:Carabidae). Weed Science 59:76-81.

    Gareau, T.L.P. , Smith, R. G., Barbercheck, M. E., Mortensen, D. A. 2010. Spider Plots: A Tool for Participatory Extension Learning. Journal of Extension 48(5): 5TOT8,

    Trauger, A., Sachs, C., Barbercheck, M., Kiernan, N. E., Brasier, K. 2010. The Object of Extension: Agricultural Education and Authentic Farmers in Pennsylvania, USA. Sociologia Ruralis 50: 85-103.

    Jabbour, R., Barbercheck, M. 2009. Soil management effects on entomopathogenic fungi during the transition to organic agriculture in a feed grain rotation. Biological Control 51: 435-443.

    Smith, R.G., R. Jabbour, A. G. Hulting, M.E. Barbercheck, D. A. Mortensen. 2009. Effects of initial seed bank density on weed seedling dynamics during the transition to an organic feed grain crop rotation. Weed Science 57: 533 – 540.

    Barbercheck, M.E., D.A. Neher, O. Anas, S.M. El-Allaf, T.R.Weicht. 2009. Response of soil invertebrates to disturbance across three resource regions in North Carolina. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 152: 283 – 298.

    Barbercheck, M., K. Brasier, N. E. Kiernan, C. Sachs, A. Trauger. 2009. Meeting the Extension Needs of Women Farmers: A Perspective from Pennsylvania. Journal of Extension,

    Brasier, K., M. Barbercheck, N. E. Kiernan, C. Sachs, A. Schwartzberg, A. Trauger. 2009. Extension Educators’ Perceptions of the Educational Needs of Women Farmers. Journal of Extension,

    Jabbour, R. and M. E. Barbercheck. 2008. Soil and habitat complexity effects on movement of the entomopathogenic nematode Steinernema carpocapsae in maize. Biological Control 47: 235-243

    Trauger, A., Sachs, C., Barbercheck, M., Brasier, K., Kiernan, N.E., 2008. Agricultural Education: Gender Identity and Knowledge Exchange. Journal of Rural Studies 24: 432-439.

    Wyer, M.B., M. E. Barbercheck, D. Cookmeyer, H. Ozturk, M. Wayne. 2008. Women in Science and Technology. 2nd Edition. Routledge, NY.

    Stuart, R.J., M. E. Barbercheck, P. S. Grewal, R. A.J. Taylor, C. W. Hoy. 2006. Population Biology of Entomopathogenic Nematodes: Concepts, Issues and Models. Biological Control 38: 80-102.

    Mueller, P., N. Creamer, M. Barbercheck, M. Bell, C. Brownie, A. Collins, K. Fager, S. Hu, L. Jackson, S. Koenning, N. Kuminoff, M. Linker, F. Louws, S. Mellage, D. Monks, D. Orr, C. Raczkowski, J. Seem, C. Tu, M. Wagger, R. Walters, A. Wossink, and W. Zhang. 2006. Long-Term, Large-Scale Systems Research Directed Toward Agricultural Sustainability. Pp. 79-98 in: Long-term Field Experiments in Organic Farming (J. Raupp, C. Pekrun, M. Oltmanns, U. Köpke, Eds.)(2006). ISOFAR Scientific Series No 1. Verlag Dr. Köster, Berlin, Germany. ISBN-Nr. 3-89574-590-1

    Barbercheck, M. E. and Hoy, C. W. 2005. A systems approach to conservation of nematodes. In: Grewal P. S., Ehlers, R.-U. and David, Shapiro-Ilan, D. I. (Eds), Nematodes as Biocontrol Agents, CABI Publishing, CAB International, Wallingford, Oxon, UK, pp. 331-347.

    Barbercheck, M. and L. D. W. Duncan. 2004. Abiotic Factors. In: R. Gaugler, A. Bilgrami, (Eds.), “Nematode Behaviour”, CABI Publishing, CAB International, Wallingford, Oxon, UK , pp. 309-343

    Neher, D. A., J. Wu, M.E. Barbercheck, O. Anas. 2005. Ecosystem type affects interpretation of soil nematode community measures. Applied Soil Ecology 30: 47-64.

    Eaton, R. J., Barbercheck, M., Buford, M., Smith, W. 2004. Effects of organic matter removal, soil compaction, and vegetation control on collembolan populations. Pedobiologia 48: 121-128.

    Barbercheck, M.E., J. Wang, and C. Brownie. 2003. Adaptation of the entomopathogenic nematode, Steinernema carpocapsae, to insect food plant. Biological Control 27: 81 – 94.

    Neher, D., M. E. Barbercheck, S. El-Allaf, O. Anas. 2003. Effects of Disturbance on Decomposition of Cellulose and Lignin. Applied Soil Ecology 23:165-179.

    Mueller, J. P. M. E. Barbercheck, M. Bell, C. Brownie, N. G. Creamer, A. Hitt, L. King, H.M. Linker, F.J. Louws, S. Marlow, M. Marra, C. W. Raczkowski, D. Susko, M.G. Wagger. 2002. Development and implementation of a long-term agricultural studies: Challenges and opportunities. HortTechnology 12: 362-368.

    Millar, L. C. and M. E. Barbercheck. 2002. Effects of tillage practices on entomopathogenic nematodes in a corn agroecosystem . Biological Control 25: 1- 11.

    Hummel, R., J. F. Walgenbach, M. E. Barbercheck, G. G. Kennedy, G. D. Hoyt, C. Arellano. 2002. Effects of production practices on soil-borne entomopathogens in western North Carolina vegetable systems. Environmental Entomol. 31: 84-91.

    Millar, L. C. and M. E. Barbercheck. 2001. Interaction between endemic and introduced entomopathogenic nematodes in corn. Biological Control. 22: 235-245.

    Costa, S., M. Barbercheck, & G.G. Kennedy . 2001. Mortality of Colorado potato beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata) after sub-lethal stress with Bacillus thuringiensis and subsequent exposure to Beauveria bassiana. J. Invertebr. Pathol. 77: 173-179.

    Wyer, M.B., M. E. Barbercheck, D. Cookmeyer, H. Ozturk, M. Wayne. 2001. Women in Science and Technology. Routledge, NY. 376 pp.

    Costa, S., M. Barbercheck, G.G. Kennedy. 2000. Sublethal acute and chronic exposure of Colorado Potato Beetle (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) to the d- endotoxin of Bacillus thuringiensis. J. Econ. Entomol. 93: 680-689.


    B.A. University of California, Santa Barbara,1980. Environmental Biology M.S. University of California, Davis,1982. Plant Protection and Pest Management Ph.D. University of California, Davis,1990. Entomology