I graduated with a BSc in Natural Sciences from Durham University in 2015. This course allowed me to construct my degree programme around my key areas of interest and I undertook modules from several different departments focused on the themes of conservation, ecology and behaviour. During my final year at Durham I was given the chance to develop my long-held fascination with insects and wrote a literature review on the Large Blue butterfly (Phengaris (Maculinea) arion).
Under the guidance of Dr Ed Turner I am now researching the ecology and habitat requirements of another butterfly, the Duke of Burgundy (Hamearis Lucina), in the UK. I am working with the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire (BCN) Wildlife Trust to help determine the best management strategies to preserve this species on their reserves. This project is partly funded by a Christ’s College Newton Trust studentship.
- Insect Ecology Group:
- MPhil Student
I am interested in studying the ecology, behaviour and habitat requirements of invertebrates in the UK so that appropriate management can be implemented to maintain biodiversity on our fragmented reserves. Invertebrates are an important food base for a huge array of animals and they provide essential ecosystem services such as pollination and improving soil fertility. However, they can often be overlooked as conservation tends to focus on larger and supposedly more 'charismatic' species. The recent publicity about the rapid decline of butterfly populations in Britain highlights the need to research and better understand the challenges facing these and other insects.
Worryingly, as sensitive bioindicators for environmental change, the decline of UK butterflies may also indicate the widespread degradation of many of our semi-natural habitats, which have traditionally supported a large array of species. In order to stem their decline, it is essential that we undertake research into the requirements of insects throughout their life cycle. Only then can appropriate management techniques be implemented to preserve these populations and their associated communities. This is likely to be particularly important in light of projected climate change, as we try to maintain the suitability of our reserves amidst shifting regional temperatures.
Hayes MP (2015) The biology and ecology of the large blue butterfly Phengaris (Maculinea) arion: a review. Journal of Insect Conservation 19:1037-1051.