My research focuses on investigations into the ecology of insects found in both agricultural and forestry ecosystems and my specific areas of expertise are in plant-insect interactions, and insect behavioural and chemical ecology.
I study the ecological interactions of insects that are either pests or that provide beneficial ecosystem services (pest regulation, pollination etc). A key focus of my research is to develop our understanding of how anthropogenic factors impact on these insects and the ecosystem services and disservice that they provide. This can be through changes in land use management, or as a consequence of pollution, particularly ground-level air pollution. My research utilises a NERC-funded Free-Air Diesel and Ozone Enrichment (FADOE) platform, which I designed and built in collaboration with researchers at UKCEH Edinburgh. This platform is located at the University of Reading’s Sonning Farm and enables field-scale evaluation of ozone and diesel exhaust pollution on insect and plant ecology.
My other research focus is on developing our understanding of the ecological processes and interactions that occur amongst pest and beneficial insect species and to use that knowledge to contribute to the development of agroecological approaches for pest control This includes: i) the enhancement of natural biological controls (conservation biological control), ii) the development of tools for Integrated Pest Management (IPM), and iii) the evaluation of changes to pest and pollination services and disservices provided by novel farming system approaches, with a particular focus on temperate silvoarable agroforestry.