The evolution of insect life histories and their effect on species richness

This is a NERC-funded project on the ACCE DTP, with collaborators Nick Isaac at CEH Wallingford and Rob Freckleton at Sheffield. Adam Bakewell is our joint PhD student. His job is to compile a dataset of life history traits across the whole of the insects and use to it to investigate the macroevolution of the group using phylogenetic comparative methods.

Automated acoustic observatories: non-invasive long term monitoring of acoustic species.

This Leverhulme funded project aims to use evolutionary information about Orthoptera song to design and test automatic acoustic observatories. Led by Dave Chesmore at York, with Jon Hill, post-docs Katie Davis and Ed Baker will construct a supertree of Orthoptera, reconstruct song evolution onto the tree and use that to design and expert system that can allow acoustic observatories to automatically identify Orthoptera in the field.

Conservation of the Dark Bordered Beauty Moth in England

The Dark Bordered Beauty moth is probably England’s rarest resident moth. It has been lost from Northumberland where it was found until 2000, and is now only known from Strensall Common, six miles north of York. Numbers at Strensall have declined dramatically in recent years.

Male Dark Bordered Beauty

In a project led by Butterfly Conservation, and involving Natural England, the MoD, and several other organizations, we have shown that the decline of the moth coincides with loss of numbers and height of the larval foodplant, Salix repens. We are now monitoring the recovery of the plant and moth following protection from grazing and planting of pot-grown plants.

You can read our first paper here. You can also read more about the project  here. You can also watch a video of the male moths flying at Strensall here. The latest e-moth provides a summary of where we are.

Drivers of ichneumonid diversity in a tropical biodiversity hotspot.

This CNcP (Brazil) funded project aims to document the richness of ichneumonid wasps in a fragment of Atlantic Rainforest in Rio de Janeiro state (Serra dos Orgaos National Park), and to assess the contribution of biotic (e.g. vegetation) and physical (e.g. temperature) variables in explaining local richness and community composition. Ichneumonids are possibly the most species rich family of animals, but we know very little about their patterns of their distribution, and can do little to conserve them if this remains the case.

The work is led by Ricardo Monteiro and Margarete de Macedo at UFRJ. Below you can see some pictures of our trapping sites at different altitudes.