My main research topics fall within the field of Community and Evolutionary Ecology of Insects. They include insect biodiversity, evolutionary biology, plant-pollinator interactions, host-parasite interactions and pollination. In addition to these scientific pursuits, I drink inordinate amounts of coffee on a daily basis.
Habitat loss, resulting from the conversion of (semi) natural to human dominated habitats is the most universal and high impact factor driving pollinator declines. Two of the main drivers of habitat loss, with overall negative effects on pollinator biodiversity, are agricultural development and urbanisation. As a step towards understanding the overall effects of anthropogenic land use on insect pollinator diversity, I investigate the relative effects of local habitat resources, landscape composition and configuration on insect pollinator diversity, simultaneously measured as intraspecific genetic diversity, species diversity, functional trait and phylogenetic diversity.
Insect evolutionary biology
Humans are undoubtedly the world's greatest evolutionary force. Numerous examples of human-driven contemporary evolution have been reported in a number of contexts, including hunting, agriculture, medicine, climate change, pollution, urbanization, habitat fragmentation, biological invasions.
My research focuses on understanding the demographic trends, local adaptation and plasticity and genetic structure of insect species in the Anthropocene.
Plant-pollinator interactions (networks)
Many studies have so far focused on the effects of anthropogenic habitat use on the diversity of pollinators and their host plants as well as on plant-pollinator community composition. However, the effects of land use change and local habitat on plants and insect pollinators are also likely to influence their mutualistic interactions, thereby impacting the architecture of their networks. The structure and complexity of these mutualistic networks could be important in promoting community stability and functioning.
One of the major driver of ecological and evolutionary change is host-parasite interactions. Parasites can have a major impact on insects, controling population cycles, mediating species interactions and structuring communities.
In my reseach I investigate the impact of parasites on host populations, their role in pollinator declines and their potential top-down effects on the ecosystem service of polination.
Animal-mediated pollination is required for the reproduction of the majority of angiosperms and pollinators are therefore essential for ecosystem functioning and the economy. However, during the last decades, numerous reports have shown declines in numbers of both wild and managed pollinators.
In my research I investigate the relative effects on the ecosystem service of pollination of: (i) biodiversity (species richness; genetic diversity and phylogenetic diversity), (ii) local habitat, (iii) land-use change brought on by agriculture and urbanisation as well as (iv) the prevalence of pollinator parasites.