My research focuses on how shared evolutionary history shapes species’ interactions, and how such interactions influence species level & community responses to environmental change. Here community and population level consequences of mutualistic & antagonistic interactions with keystone species are particularly informative. I am considering their adaptive backgrounds as local adaptation or phylogeographic histories and how these affect associated communities of parasites/herbivores and their parasitoid natural enemies. Examples include the ecology and evolution of social parasites in ant societies and determinants of community structure and community dynamics of herbivorous insects on oak and their associated parasitoids. Lately have included the microbiota of the foundation species and investigate how their communities are shaped by the genetic background of their host (= the extended phenotype) and how their communities might affect interactions with the higher trophic levels.
I have been focussing on two study systems: (1) trees their associated herbivores and their natural enemies and (2) ants and their social parasites. In both I assess their adaptive potential and the impact on the wider community particularly in relation to Climate Change and community resilience to environmental change. My current work considers tree microbomes in the context of tree health (e.g. Red Needle Blight, Scots Pine & Acute Oak Decline)
In a separate line of research I continue studies of biological invasions and the post-invasion recruitment of natural enemies. Our current focus is the Oriental Chestnut Gallwasp that is well established in the Mediterranean and was recently recorded from the UK. I have been involved in horizon scanning exercises for the UK and the EU and have worked on minimum standards of risk assessments for invasives.
Selected research projects:
2015 - Evaluating the impact of emergent disease on microbial and insect populations in the tree ecosystem. PhD Shyamali Roy co-supervised with Robert W. Jackson, University of Reading, Melanie Gibbs, CEH and Richard Harrison, East Malling Research.
2014 – ProTree funded under the Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity Initiative: Promoting resilience of UK tree species to novel pests and pathogens: ecological and evolutionary solutions
2011 – Community assembly over evolutionary and ecological timescales: gallwasps as a model system (The invasion of Europe by Dryocosmus kuriphilus the chestnut gallswasp). PhD Julja Ernst co-supervised with Graham Stone, University of Edinburgh
2010 – 2014 The population biology of two sympatric alien gallwasps and their recruitment of natural enemies. PhD Ian Townsend co-supervised with James Cook, University of Reading, Steven White, CEH
2009 – 2012 UK PI of CLIMIT: CLimate change impacts on Insects and their MITigation. EU ERA-net, BiodivERsA in collaboration and coordinated by Josef Settele, UfZ
2009 - 2012 NERC EHFI grant CLIMAFO: Climate Change and Management of Forest Biodiversity: predicting the impacts of climate change adaptation strategies on plant-herbivore – enemy interactions. In collaboration with Graham Stone, University of Edinburgh
2008 - 2012 Community level consequences of adaptive management through Climate Matching: oak galls as a model system. PhD Frazer Sinclair co-supervised with Graham Stone, University of Edinburgh, Stephen Cavers, CEH
- Since 2004 Band 4 (Principal Scientific Officer)
- 2001 – 2004 Band 5 (Senior Scientific Officer)
- 1999 – 2001 Band 6 Researcher (Higher Scientific Officer) at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology
- 1996 – 1999 Postdoctoral Research Fellow at now Queen Mary College, University of London
- 1994 – 1996 Postdoctoral Researcher at Imperial College
- 1990 – 1994 Research Assistant and PhD student at Imperial College
- 2014 – 2017 Co-I of the ProTree project under the Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity Initiative: Promoting resilience of UK tree species to novel pests and pathogens: ecological and evolutionary solutions
- 2009 – 2012 Lead PI, NERC EHFI grant: Climate Change and Management of Forest Biodiversity: predicting the impacts of climate change adaptation strategies on plant-herbivore – enemy interactions.
- 2009 – 2012 UK PI of CLIMIT: CLIMIT: climate change impacts on myrmecophilous systems (30 scientists, 5 European Universities)
- 2004 - 2007 Co-PI on a NERC standard research grant: Host associated population substructure in generalist parasitoids: cynipid oak gall communities as a model system.
- 2001 PI, NERC small grant: Volatile chemistry of cynipid galls and the host finding behaviour of associated parasitoid species
- 2000 - 2003 Co-PI on a NERC standard research grant: Phylogenetic analyses of community structure using oak gallwasps as a model system.
1994 PhD thesis at Imperial College London, University of London, including a Diploma of IC
1990 Christian Albrechts Universität, Kiel, Germany - MSc (Diplom) in Biology (Grade: 1st)
- Since 2015 – Associated Editor Proceeding of the Royal Society - B
- Since 2013 – Member of the expert panel of the Fund for Scientific Research in Belgium and
- Since 2013 – Member of the expert panel of the Australian Research Council.
- Since 2010 – Senior visiting Research Fellow at Reading University
- Since 2009 – Membership Committee of the British Ecological Society
- 2009 - Member of the NERC panel to select the top 25 contributions to science in 2008
- Since 2008 – Associate Editor and now Editor of the Journal Insect Conservation & Diversity published by the Royal Entomological Society
- 2005 - 2008 – Member of the NERC Peer Review College
- 2005 –2006 – Member of the Steering committee overseeing the Inductively Coupled Plasma NERC facilities (ICP-ES & ICP-MS)
- 1990 - Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society
- 1990 - Member of the British Plant Gall Society