The scientific interests of my research group are on a broad scale, but our research generally involves the study of animal responses to environmental stressors to address ecologically applied issues, as well as taking an evolutionary biology approach to understanding trends in ecology.
In particular, we are interested in how human activities affect insect populations and biodiversity, primarily the effects of agricultural land use and the impacts of climate change. This has involved focusing on how specific factors, such as aspects of habitat loss, chemical applications and temperature changes can influence individual molecular responses, physiology, behaviour(s) and fitness, and how this scales to shape populations and communities.
Whilst not wedded to a particular study organism/system, social insects (bumblebees in particular) have been the focus of our research. Their large and intricate societies exhibit efficient and often complex cooperative behaviours making them not only interesting for the study of animal behaviour, but also a dominant insect group in the environment that provide vital ecosystem functions and crucial ecosystem services important for human welfare.
Here is a short video introducing one of the topics that we are interested in studying - threats to insect pollinators:
Please see my research page for further details.
Celebrating UN World Bee Day 2021; follow this link.
May 2021 - we started our third field season studying Arctic bumblebees. The ArcticBuzz project welcomes Aoife Cantwell Jones who will be conducting her PhD over the next three years on bumblebee responses to climate change.
The group will welcome Catherine Parry and Mahika Dixit who will both be starting their PhD projects in Oct 2021.
Congrats to Ana Ramos Rodrigues for successfully defending her PhD.
Smith et al. (2020) Insecticide exposure during brood or early-adult development reduces brain growth and impairs adult learning in bumblebees. in Proc. Roy. Soc. B. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2019.2442
Samuelson, Gill & Leadbeater (2020) Urbanisation is associated with reduced Nosema sp. infection, higher colony strength and higher richness of foraged pollen in honeybees. in Apidologie,
Kenna*, Cooley* et al. (2019) Pesticide exposure affects flight dynamics and reduces flight endurance in bumblebees. in Ecology & Evolution.
Colgan*, Fletcher*, Arce* et al. (2019) Caste- and pesticide-specific effects of neonicotinoid pesticide exposure on gene expression in bumblebees. in Molecular Ecology. doi:10.1111/mec.15047
Current Group (see 'research' page for more details)
Independent Fellow hosted by Gill lab: Dr Peter Graystock
Associated Fellow: Dr Jacob Johansson
NERC funded DTP PhD students: Daniel Kenna (in 4th year); Aoife Cantwell Jones (in 1st year)
PhD co-supervisor: Joe Palmer (Sup. Dr Vincent Jansen, RHUL), BBSRC
Masters students: Sarah Hudson, Nerea Montes Perez, Claire Tsui, Charlotte McGinty, Oonagh Barker, Mahika Dixit
Previous Group Members
NERC funded PDRA: Dr Andres Arce
Grantham funded PDRA: Dr Kirsty Yule
BBSRC funded PhD student: Ana Ramos-Rodrigues (2016-2020)
NERC funded DTP PhD student: Dylan Smith (2014-2019)
Erasmus visiting Masters student: Illaria Pretelli
Masters project students: Michael Tansley, Aoife Cantwell-Jones, Connor Lovell, Henrique Galante Nunes de Sousa, Sarah Hudson, Sebastian Pipins, Alan Ward (2020); Emma Eatough, Xeuni Bian, Lottie Gibbons, Rach Dawson, Freja Gjerstad, Chloe Sargent and Stephen Bishop (2019); Jacob Birkenhead, Marcus Rhodes, Tara Cox, Libby Bates, Miranda Burke, Flo Coulmance--Gayrard (2018); Koorosh McCormack, Cecylia Watrobska, Nicholas Tew, Elspeth MacKeller, Jenny Dawson, John Paterson (2017), Ross Gray, Laura Bentley, Chun (Harris) Tso (2016); Jiajun (Stanley) Yu, Katie Taylor, Sarah Gougeon (2015), Emma Randall, Thomas David (2014)
3rd year project students: Daisy Burris, Megan Chan, Hazel Cooley (2017), Phillip Bischoff, Cecylia Watrobska (2016); Shona Crawford-Smith, Ross Gray, Henry Clifford (2015), Jessica Clarke, Abby Simms (2014)
et al., 2020, Insecticide exposure during brood or early-adult development reduces brain growth and impairs adult learning in bumblebees, Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, Vol:287, ISSN:0962-8452
et al., 2019, Caste- and pesticide-specific effects of neonicotinoid pesticide exposure on gene expression in bumblebees, Molecular Ecology, Vol:28, ISSN:0962-1083, Pages:1964-1974
et al., 2018, Foraging bumblebees acquire a preference for neonicotinoid treated food with prolonged exposure, Proceedings - Royal Society. Biological sciences, Vol:285, ISSN:1471-2954
et al., 2018, Lower bumblebee colony reproductive success in agricultural compared with urban environments, Proceedings - Royal Society. Biological sciences, Vol:285, ISSN:1471-2954
et al., 2016, Impact of controlled neonicotinoid exposure on bumblebees in a realistic field setting, Journal of Applied Ecology, Vol:54, ISSN:1365-2664, Pages:1199-1208
et al., 2016, Exploring miniature insect brains using micro-CT scanning techniques, Scientific Reports, Vol:6, ISSN:2045-2322
et al., 2016, Protecting an Ecosystem Service: Approaches to Understanding and Mitigating Threats to Wild Insect Pollinators, Advances in Ecological Research, Vol:54, ISSN:0065-2504, Pages:135-206
et al., 2013, Chronic sublethal stress causes bee colony failure, Ecology Letters, Vol:16, ISSN:1461-023X, Pages:1463-1469