The scientific interests of our research generally involve the study of insect and plant responses to environmental stressors to address ecologically applied issues, as well as taking an evolutionary biology approach to understanding trends in ecology.
We are particularly interested in how human activities affect insect population dynamics, biodiversity, and their functional roles (especially pollinators). We primarily study the effects of agricultural land use and the impacts of climate change. This has involved focusing on how specific factors, such as aspects of habitat loss, chemical applications and temperature changes can influence individual molecular responses, physiology, behaviour(s) and fitness, and how this scales to shape populations and communities. Complementing these findings with molecular methods, field studies and modelling we attempt to scale up how these factors may be selectively shaping insect populations and altering community composition and interaction networks.
Whilst not wedded to a particular study system, social insects have been the focus of our research. Their large and intricate societies exhibit efficient and complex cooperative behaviours making them not only interesting for the study of animal behaviour, but also a dominant insect group in the environment that provide vital ecosystem functions and crucial ecosystem services important for human welfare.
Recent group news
Congrats to Andres and Aoife for their paper finding evidence for increasing stress in bumblebees over the 20th century, and revealing how climatic conditions can contribute to this. Out in Journal of Animal Ecology.
Checkout out our paper showcasing genome sequencing of specimens dating back to the late 19th century, in collaboration with the Barnes group from NHM London. Out in Methods in Ecology & Evolution
Our work got lots of press interest, including ITV news, Channel 4, BBC Radio 4, The Guardian, Washington Post, and more.
Celebrating UN World Bee Day 2022, Rich was interviewed by the BBC in the Arctic. Click to see the video.
Ended our fourth field season (2022) studying Arctic bumblebees. This is in collaboration with Keith Larson, and is affiliated with CIRC. Please also listen to a podcast covering earlier Masters student's work.
In 2021 we helped the BBC film Arctic bumblebees, and the footage came out on Frozen Planet II (Series 5) this October 2022
Congrats to Monika for getting the first paper from her PhD published, reviewing the threat of pesticide and disease co-exposure to managed and wild bee larvae.
Congrats to Aoife for being awarded 1st prize for her presentation at the NW IUSSI conference (Dec 2021) for her Masters work; studying signatures of stress in bumblebee museum specimens.
Collaborating with Joe Colgan and Yanick Wurm, our bumblebee genome paper is out in Molecular Biology & Evolution.