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Insect Ecology Group

Our research group studies the ecology of insects in their natural habitats – their biodiversity, behaviour and function in ecosystems. Work by several group members is currently focused on understanding patterns of biodiversity, and the roles played by insects in tropical rainforests in Southeast Asia. In this region large areas of forest have now been selectively logged or converted to oil palm plantation, and we also consider how insect communities are affected when natural habitats are changed.

Our current broad research questions include:

  • What processes determine species diversity and assemblages at local and regional scales within tropical forests?
  • How does species diversity affect ecosystem services, for example litter decomposition and biological control, in these areas?
  • How are these patterns and processes affected when natural forest is disturbed by logging activities and converted to oil palm plantation?
  • What strategies can be used to mitigate the impacts of habitat conversion, and make modified landscapes more wildlife-friendly?

Additional work by the group includes questions on behavioural ecology of insects - especially in the evolution of social behaviour in aphids and wasps, group-living, and intertidal insects. Members of the group also work on insect taxonomy, and collection management – making use of and looking after the Insect Collections of the University Museum of Zoology.