I am a PhD student investigating the role of ants and termites in oil palm plantations in Sumatra, Indonesia. I graduated from the University of Cambridge in 2014 with a BA in Zoology. My interest in ants stems from a project I conducted during my degree, when I investigated the effect of altitude on an ant-plant mutualism in Papua New Guinea, with the New Guinea Binatang Research Centre. In 2014-2015 I worked as a research assistant at the Czech Academy of Sciences in Ceske Budejovice, where I spent most of my time studying Bornean ants.
- Insect Ecology Group:
- PhD student
I am interested in the ecology of ants and termites, and in increasing the sustainability of tropical agriculture. The conversion of tropical forests to oil palm plantations is a primary driver of deforestation and biodiversity loss worldwide. Ants and termites are highly functionally important in many ecosystems, including agricultural ones. Despite this, their functional role in oil palm has not yet been determined. Understanding this may impact future management practices in tropical agricultural ecosystems. For my PhD, I am conducting manipulative ant and termite exclusion experiments in oil palm at different stages of its lifecycle, and with different levels of understory vegetation complexity. Several of my study sites will be at the BEFTA project, which aims to determine the effect of understory habitat complexity on ecosystem services within oil palm. My PhD is kindly funded by the Claire Barnes Studentship, and is supervised by Dr Ed Turner.
I am also interested in science communication and public engagement.
Plowman N.S., Hood A.S.C., Moses J., Redmond C., Novotny V., Klimes P. & Fayle T. (2017) Network reorganization and breakdown of an ant–plant protection mutualism with elevation. Proc R Soc B, 284(1850). doi:10.1098/rspb.2016.2564