Memorial services are to be held Thursday at Sherwood Park, Alta. for University of Alberta entomologist and researcher Lloyd Dosdall, hailed especially in the Prairie canola industry for his work against the crop’s insect pests.
Dosdall, who’d been undergoing treatments for cancer over the past two years, died last Thursday at age 61.
Born and raised in eastern Saskatchewan, Dosdall taught high school for six years at Allan, Sask. before returning to complete his Ph.D. in entomology at the University of Saskatchewan in 1987. He then worked for two years at the University of Manitoba’s Canada Biting Fly Centre.
Dosdall then moved to Vegreville, Alta. and worked 10 years at the Alberta Environmental Centre/Alberta Research Council before being hired as a professor in the University of Alberta’s Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science.
Dosdall’s research in field crop entomology, particularly in pest management in canola, earned him an international reputation and he was invited to present on the subject overseas in countries including Australia, China, Germany, Pakistan, Egypt, Switzerland and Norway.
Canola systems could be “readily manipulated structurally and temporally,” he said, and were thus ideal for studying insect-host plant interactions, insect invasion patterns and shifts in insect biodiversity.
His research work also looked at integrated pest management strategies for canola and other crops — including the use of parasitoids as biological controls, “cultural practices” such as adjusting plant densities or tillage practices, and the role of host plant nutrition.
“It’s hard to overestimate the role of natural enemies of crop pests, but it is pretty profound,” the Gateway Research Organization quoted Dosdall as saying in 2009. It’s almost impossible, he said, to artificially replace the beneficial effects of natural predators and parasitoids.
As an example, the GRO said, Dosdall pointed to Aleochara, a beetle enemy of root maggots in canola.
“One thing that strikes me so dramatically is that we know the species of crop pests, but we know very little about beneficial insects,” he said. “When you go through the textbooks to find out how these beetles complete their life cycles, where they overwinter, what they prefer to feed on, how they function in the system, all we know is their name.”
Dosdall was also working with geneticists on new insect-resistant varieties and researching the mechanisms of host plant resistance in crops.
Honours Dosdall earned during his time at the university included the Alberta Science and Technology (ASTech) Leadership Award in 2010 and the FarmTech Award last year for outstanding contributions to Alberta’s cropping industry.
The ASTech Foundation hailed Dosdall for his “exceptional” contributions to the province’s ag industry during his career, citing examples such as his work on a weevil-resistant canola which “promises to provide enormous economic benefits to canola growers and helps reduce pesticide use.”
According to Dosdall’s obituary on Tuesday, a funeral service is set for 11 a.m. Thursday (June 19) at Our Lady of Perpetual Help at 13 Brower Drive in Sherwood Park. Interment follows at Glenwood Memorial Gardens at 3 p.m. — AGCanada.com Network