Imperial College London

Dr C M (Tilly) Collins

Faculty of Natural SciencesCentre for Environmental Policy

Senior Teaching Fellow



+44 (0)20 7594 9301t.collins Website CV




110aWeeks BuildingSouth Kensington Campus





Publication Type

55 results found

Raum S, Collins CM, Urquhart J, Potter C, Pauleit S, Egerer Met al., 2023, Tree insect pests and pathogens: a global systematic review of their impacts in urban areas, URBAN ECOSYSTEMS, ISSN: 1083-8155

Journal article

Singh M, Sood S, Collins CM, 2022, Fire dynamics of the Bolivian Amazon, Land, Vol: 11, Pages: 1-23, ISSN: 2073-445X

This study identifies the spatial and temporal trends, as well as the drivers, of fire dynamics in the Bolivian Amazon basin. Bolivia ranks in the top ten countries in terms of total annual burnt, with fires affecting an estimated 2.3 million hectares of forest in 2020. However, in comparison to the Brazilian Amazon, there has been little research into the fire regime in Bolivia. The sparse research and the limited literature on the subject indicate that fire activity is higher in the Bolivian Amazon basin’s dry forests and flooded savanna zones, and that agriculture and drought are the primary causes of fire activity. In this study, trend analysis and emerging hotspot analysis are deployed to identify the spatial and temporal patterns of fire activity and boosted regression tree models to identify the drivers of forest fire within each ecoregion of the Bolivian Amazon basin. Comparable to most of the Brazilian literature, this study finds that fire activity and fire season length is higher in the flooded Beni Savanna, and Chiquitano seasonally dry tropical forests than in the Bolivian Amazon ecoregion. This study also identifies moisture stress and human activity as the main drivers of fire dynamics within the region. It is intended that this research will offer a foundation for future research and conservation activities aimed at better understanding the fire regime of the Bolivian Amazon basin.

Journal article

Collins CM, Otero A, Woodward H, 2022, Shape matters: reducing people’s exposure to poor air quality using sculpted infrastructure elements, Cities & Health, Vol: 6, Pages: 1-7, ISSN: 2374-8834

Air pollution in cities disproportionately affects children and those living in economically-deprived areas near busy roadways. Walls are effective in deflecting particulate matter but the addition of shaping either at the design stage, or as retrofit, improves performance. High-wall baffles reduce distal vortex accumulations; On pavements, low-level baffles can deflect suspended particulates back towards the road surface. These shaped structures can scaffold urban plantings and, in tandem, improve the effectiveness of urban green in this context. Shaped baffles are immediately effective, inexpensive and create a win-win that engages stakeholders. This awareness will drive collaborations between planners, designers and modellers for effective and beautiful street furniture elements that reduce pollution exposure.

Journal article

Singh M, Massimo L, Collins M, 2022, Evaluation of protected areas in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, West Africa, using a remote sensing-based approach, Land, Vol: 11, ISSN: 2073-445X

This study assesses the representation of defined ecoregions, slope profiles, and species richness of threatened mammals in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)-listed protected areas in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. It also evaluates the exposure of protected area categories to the cumulative degree of human modification and their vulnerability to future agricultural expansion. Spatial gap and statistical analyses were performed using quantitative data from publicly available online global databases. Analyses indicated key conservation priorities for both countries: (1) to increase the protection of the Guinean forest–savanna mosaic, West Sudanian savanna, and Eastern Guinean forests, especially of the Eastern Guinean forests’ ecoregion associated with the Guinean forests of the West Africa biodiversity hotspot; (2) to increase the protected area coverage of flat lands and low slopes; and (3) to enhance the size and connectivity of existing protected areas, including restoring degraded habitats. The study emphasizes that improving the ability of tropical protected areas to conserve nature and mitigate anthropogenic threats should be a global conservation priority. Improving the data quality and detail within the World Database on Protected Areas and ground-truthing them are recommended urgently to support accurate and informative assessments.

Journal article

COLLINS CM, MICHAELAKIS A, 2022, Managing stakeholder concerns associated with releases of imported stock in insect control programmes, Revue Scientifique et Technique de l'OIE, Vol: 41, Pages: 191-197, ISSN: 0253-1933

A commitment to reducing pesticide use and the development of novel technologies are driving a renewed interest ininsect-mediated pest and vector control programmes. Such programmes, along with conservation and pollination applications, lead to an increased transport volume of live insect stock. At release sites, concerns surrounding importedinsects can be reduced by using local genotypes that have been mass-produced elsewhere. Remaining plausibleconcerns are likely to be centred on human factors (vector behaviour or capacity) and ecological factors (interactingspecies) and should be anticipated in the design of communication materials. Well-designed, locally relevant communication and engagement material is an important part of programme success.Stakeholder engagement is thus critical to reducing risks of perceived and plausible concerns affecting programmeoutcomes in an increasingly electronically connected world. Experience at release sites can help inform the designof accessible information useful at all stages of the transportation pathway. For transnationally transported insects,providing such information to specific stakeholders (e.g. courier companies and border authorities) will reduce thelikelihood of delays, which can, in turn, affect the quality and mortality of the transported insects.

Journal article

QUINLAN MM, MUMFORD JD, BENEDICT MQ, WÄCKERS F, OLIVA CF, WOHLFARTER M, SMAGGHE G, VILA E, KLAPWIJK J, MICHAELAKIS A, COLLINS CM, PRUDHOMME J, TORRES G, DIAZ F, SAUL-GERSHENZ L, COOK K, VERGHESE A, SREERAMA KUMAR Pet al., 2022, Can there be a common, risk-based framework for decisions around live insect trade?, Revue Scientifique et Technique de l'OIE, Vol: 41, Pages: 219-227, ISSN: 0253-1933

A network of scientists involved in shipment of live insects has met and generated a series of articles on issues relatedto live insect transport. The network is diverse, covering large-scale commercial interests, government operated areawide control programmes, biomedical research and many smaller applications, in research, education and privateuses. Many insect species have a record of safe transport, pose minimal risks and are shipped frequently betweencountries. The routine shipments of the most frequently used insect model organism for biomedical research,Drosophila melanogaster, is an example. Successful large-scale shipments from commercial biocontrol and pollinatorsuppliers also demonstrate precedents for low-risk shipment categories, delivered in large volumes to high qualitystandards. Decision makers need access to more information (publications or official papers) that details actual risksfrom the insects themselves or their possible contaminants, and should propose proportionate levels of management.There may be harm to source environments when insects are collected directly from the wild, and there may be harm and Technical Review 41 (1) 2022 220to receiving environments. Several risk frameworks include insects and various international coordinating bodies,with experience of guidance on relevant risks, exist. All stakeholders would benefit from an integrated overview ofguidance for insect shipping, with reference to types of risk and categories of magnitude, without trying for a singleapproach requiring universal agreement. Proposals for managing uncertainty and lack of data for smaller or infrequent shipments, for example, must not disrupt trade in large volumes of live insects, which are already supportingstrategic objectives in several sectors.

Journal article

Wells C, Collins CMT, 2022, A rapid evidence assessment of the potential risk to the environment presented by active ingredients in the UK's most commonly sold companion animal parasiticides, Environmental Science and Pollution Research, Vol: 29, Pages: 45070-45088, ISSN: 0944-1344

A number of parasiticides are commercially available as companion animal treatments to protect against parasite infestation and are sold in large volumes. These treatments are not intended to enter the wider environment but may be washed off or excreted by treated animals and have ecotoxic impacts. A systematic literature review was conducted to identify the existing evidence for the toxicity of the six most used parasiticides in the UK: imidacloprid, fipronil, fluralaner, afoxolaner, selamectin, and flumethrin. A total of 17,207 published articles were screened, with 690 included in the final evidence synthesis. All parasiticides displayed higher toxicity towards invertebrates than vertebrates, enabling their use as companion animal treatments. Extensive evidence exists of ecotoxicity for imidacloprid and fipronil, but this focuses on exposure via agricultural use and is not representative of environmental exposure that results from use in companion animal treatments, especially in urban greenspace. Little to no evidence exists for the ecotoxicity of the remaining parasiticides. Despite heavy usage, there is currently insufficient evidence to understand the environmental risk posed by these veterinary treatments and further studies are urgently needed to quantify the levels and characterise the routes of environmental exposure, as well as identifying any resulting environmental harm.

Journal article

Bonds JAS, Collins CM, Gouagna L-C, 2022, Could species-focused suppression of Aedes aegypti, the yellow fever mosquito, and Aedes albopictus, the tiger mosquito, affect interacting predators? An evidence synthesis from the literature, Pest Management Science, Vol: 78, Pages: 2729-2745, ISSN: 1526-498X

The risks of Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus nuisance and vector-borne diseases are rising and the adverse effects of broad-spectrum insecticide application have promoted species-specific techniques, such as sterile insect technique (SIT) and other genetic strategies, as contenders in their control operations. When specific vector suppression is proposed, potential effects on predators and wider ecosystem are some of the first stakeholder questions. These are not the only Aedes vectors of human diseases, but are those for which SIT and genetic strategies are of most interest. They vary ecologically and in habitat origin, but both have behaviorally human-adapted forms with expanding ranges. The aquatic life stages are where predation is strongest due to greater resource predictability and limited escape opportunity. These vectors' anthropic forms usually use ephemeral water bodies and man-made containers as larval habitats; predators that occur in these are mobile, opportunistic and generalist. No literature indicates that any predator depends on larvae of either species. As adults, foraging theory predicts these mosquitoes are of low profitability to predators. Energy expended hunting and consuming will mostly outweigh their energetic benefit. Moreover, as adult biomass is mobile and largely disaggregated, any predator is likely to be a generalist and opportunist. This work, which summarizes much of the literature currently available on the predators of Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus, indicates it is highly unlikely that any predator species depends on them. Species-specific vector control to reduce nuisance and disease is thus likely to be of negligible or limited impact on nontarget predators. © 2022 The Authors. Pest Management Science published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Society of Chemical Industry.

Journal article

Hirons S, Collins CM, Singh M, 2022, Assessing variation in the effectiveness of IUCN protected area categorisation. What remotely sensed forest integrity and human modification reveals across the major tropical forest biomes, Ecological Indicators, Vol: 143, Pages: 109337-109337, ISSN: 1470-160X

One of the major threats facing protected areas (PAs) in hyper-diverse tropical forest ecosystems is human modification of their natural habitats. With a focus on forested PAs situated across three of the world’s major tropical regions, the Congo Basin, insular Indonesia Malaysia and the Tropical Andes. We analyse their representation of identified ecoregions and remote sensing data of human modification and forest integrity levels within PAs and used a generalized linear modelling approach to estimate the influences on these pressures, with a particular focus on IUCN management categorisation, PA size, and geographic location. Representation of key ecoregions varied with 7%, 11% and 22% of named ecoregions being unprotected within each major region. Overall, the IUCN management category allocation played a minor role in influencing the modification and forest integrity observed within PAs. Instead, PA size was the most important determinant of these variables across the different regions under consideration. This work provides further evidence to suggest that the assignment of PAs to IUCN categories in their current form is not interpreted consistently across different regions and does not correspond to the conservation benefits expected to be conferred by this categorisation.

Journal article

Anankware PJ, Roberts B, Cheseto X, Osuga I, Savolainen V, Collins Cet al., 2021, The nutritional profiles of five important edible insect species from West Africa – an analytical and literature synthesis, Frontiers in Nutrition, Vol: 8, Pages: 1-19, ISSN: 2296-861X

Background: Undernutrition is a prevalent, serious, and growing concern, particularly in developing countries. Entomophagy—the human consumption of edible insects, is a historical and culturally established practice in many regions. Increasing consumption of nutritious insect meal is a possible combative strategy and can promote sustainable food security. However, the nutritional literature frequently lacks consensus, with interspecific differences in the nutrient content of edible insects generally being poorly resolved.Aims and methods: Here we present full proximate and fatty acid profiles for five edible insect species of socio-economic importance in West Africa: Hermetia illucens (black soldier fly), Musca domestica (house fly), Rhynchophorus phoenicis (African palm weevil), Cirina butyrospermi (shea tree caterpillar), and Macrotermes bellicosus (African termite). These original profiles, which can be used in future research, are combined with literature-derived proximate, fatty acid, and amino acid profiles to analyse interspecific differences in nutrient content.Results: Interspecific differences in ash (minerals), crude protein, and crude fat contents were substantial. Highest ash content was found in H. illucens and M. domestica (~10 and 7.5% of dry matter, respectively), highest crude protein was found in C. butyrospermi and M. domestica (~60% of dry matter), whilst highest crude fat was found in R. phoenicis (~55% of dry matter). The fatty acid profile of H. illucens was differentiated from the other four species, forming its own cluster in a principal component analysis characterized by high saturated fatty acid content. Cirina butyrospermi had by far the highest poly-unsaturated fatty acid content at around 35% of its total fatty acids, with α-linolenic acid particularly represented. Amino acid analyses revealed that all five species sufficiently met human essential amino acid requirements, although C. butyrospermi was slightly limited in le

Journal article

Singh M, Griaud C, Collins CM, 2021, An evaluation of the effectiveness of protected areas in Thailand, Ecological Indicators, Vol: 125, Pages: 1-9, ISSN: 1470-160X

Thailand is a biodiversity hotspot and home to over 1000 bird species, 15,000 plant species, and five of the World Wildlife Fund’s Global 200 Ecoregions of ecological significance. To preserve their unique ecosystems, the Thai government has established and maintained protected areas (PA) which in 2020, are estimated to cover 19% of Thailand’s land area. The success of these areas in preserving biodiversity to date is somewhat ambiguous. Using gap analyses, we evaluated the extent and adequacy of coverage provided by these PAs for the preservation of these unique ecoregions, to threatened amphibian, bird, and mammal species richness hotspots and at a range of altitudes within Thailand.Regionally, the Indochina dry forests, Northern Khorat Plateau moist deciduous forests and Malaysian Peninsula rainforests are all under-represented. Though opportunities exist for their protection through marine designation, mangrove and wetland ecosystems are also seriously under-represented in the current spatial layout and network connectivity of Thailand’s protected area system. Highland areas (>750 m elevation) are well-protected, in contrast to the lower altitude areas where human and agricultural pressures are higher. Hotspots of threatened birds located in the northern and southern regions of Thailand, as well as most of the central threatened mammal hotspot, are inadequately covered (<10%). The current PAs could be expanded with a focus on these key areas, or further PAs created to address these gaps in provision. The Thai PA network is also highly fragmented and, in addition to increasing the area covered, contiguity and connectivity of the network should be considered. With human population expansion in the central lowland area particularly, there will be challenges and trade-offs to be negotiated along with enforcement within existing areas. We hope, though, that the results of this study can aid policymakers in improving Thai conservation effective

Journal article

Birungi K, Mabuka DP, Balyesima V, Namukwaya A, Chemoges EW, Kiwuwa-Muyingo S, Collins CM, Tripet F, Kayondo JKet al., 2021, Eave and swarm collections prove effective for biased captures of male Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes in Uganda., Parasites and Vectors, Vol: 14, Pages: 1-17, ISSN: 1756-3305

BACKGROUND: Traditional malaria vector sampling techniques bias collections towards female mosquitoes. Comprehensive understanding of vector dynamics requires balanced vector sampling of both males and females. Male mosquito sampling is also necessary for population size estimations by male-based mark-release-recapture (MRR) studies and for developing innovations in mosquito control, such as the male-targeted sterile insect technique and other genetic modification approaches. This study evaluated a range of collection methods which show promise in providing a more equal, or even male-biased, sex representation in the sample. RESULTS: Swarms were found at all study sites and were more abundant and larger at the peak of the wet season. Swarm sampling caught the most males, but when man/hour effort was factored in, sampling of eaves by aspiration was the more efficient method and also provided a representative sample of females. Grass-roofed houses were the most productive for eave collections. Overall few mosquitoes were caught with artificial resting traps (clay pots and buckets), although these sampling methods performed better at the start of the wet season than at its peak, possibly because of changes in mosquito ecology and an increased availability of natural resting sites later in the season. Aspiration of bushes was more productive at the peak of the wet season than at the start. CONCLUSIONS: The results of this study demonstrate that eave aspiration was an efficient and useful male mosquito collection method at the study sites and a potentially powerful aid for swarm location and MRR studies. The methods evaluated may together deliver more sex-balanced mosquito captures and can be used in various combinations depending on the aims and ecological parameters of a given study.

Journal article

Oliva CF, Benedict MQ, Collins CM, Baldet T, Bellini R, Bossin H, Bouyer J, Corbel V, Facchinelli L, Fouque F, Geier M, Michaelakis A, Roiz D, Simard F, Tur C, Gouagna L-Cet al., 2021, Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) against aedes species mosquitoes: a roadmap and good practice framework for designing, implementing and evaluating pilot field trials, Insects, Vol: 12, Pages: 191-191, ISSN: 2075-4450

Aedes albopictus and Aedes aegypti are invasive mosquito species that impose a substantial risk to human health. To control the abundance and spread of these arboviral pathogen vectors, the sterile insect technique (SIT) is emerging as a powerful complement to most commonly-used approaches, in part, because this technique is ecologically benign, specific, and non-persistent in the environment if releases are stopped. Because SIT and other similar vector control strategies are becoming of increasing interest to many countries, we offer here a pragmatic and accessible ‘roadmap’ for the pre-pilot and pilot phases to guide any interested party. This will support stakeholders, non-specialist scientists, implementers, and decision-makers. Applying these concepts will ensure, given adequate resources, a sound basis for local field trialing and for developing experience with the technique in readiness for potential operational deployment. This synthesis is based on the available literature, in addition to the experience and current knowledge of the expert contributing authors in this field. We describe a typical path to successful pilot testing, with the four concurrent development streams of Laboratory, Field, Stakeholder Relations, and the Business and Compliance Case. We provide a graphic framework with criteria that must be met in order to proceed. View Full-Text

Journal article

Corada K, Woodward H, Alaraj H, Collins CM, de Nazelle Aet al., 2021, A systematic review of the leaf traits considered to contribute to removal of airborne particulate matter pollution in urban areas, Environmental Pollution, Vol: 269, Pages: 1-13, ISSN: 0269-7491

Global urban planning has promoted green infrastructure (GI) such as street trees, shrubs or other greenspace in order to mitigate air pollution. Although considerable attention has been paid to understanding particulate matter (PM) deposition on GI, there has been little focus on identifying which leaf traits might maximise airborne PM removal. This paper examines existing literature to synthesize the state of knowledge on leaf traits most relevant to PM removal. We systematically reviewed measurement studies that evaluated particulate matter accumulated on leaves on street trees, shrubs green roofs, and green walls, for a variety of leaf traits. Our final selection included 62 papers, most from field studies and a handful from wind tunnel studies. The following were variously promoted as useful traits: coniferous needle leaves; small, rough and textured broadleaves; lanceolate and ovate shapes; waxy coatings, and high-density trichomes. Consideration of these leaf traits, many of which are also associated with drought tolerance, may help to maximise PM capture. Although effective leaf traits were identified, there is no strong or consistent evidence to identify which is the most influential leaf trait in capturing PM. The diversity in sampling methods, wide comparison groups and lack of background PM concentration measures in many studies limited our ability to synthesize results. We found that several ancillary factors contribute to variations in the accumulation of PM on leaves, thus cannot recommend that selection of urban planting species be based primarily on leaf traits. Further research into the vegetation structural features and standardization of the method to measure PM on leaves is needed.

Journal article

Aviles EI, Rotenberry RD, Collins CM, Dotson EM, Benedict MQet al., 2020, Fluorescent markers rhodamine B and uranine for Anopheles gambiae adults and matings, Malaria Journal, Vol: 19, Pages: 1-9, ISSN: 1475-2875

BackgroundMarking mosquitoes is vital for mark-release-recapture and many laboratory studies, but their small size precludes the use of methods that are available for larger animals such as unique identifier tags and radio devices. Fluorescent dust is the most commonly used method to distinguish released individuals from the wild population. Numerous colours and combinations can be used, however, dust sometimes affects longevity and behaviour so alternatives that do not have these effects would contribute substantially. Rhodamine B has previously been demonstrated to be useful for marking adult Aedes aegypti males when added to the sugar meal. Unlike dust, this also marked the seminal fluid making it possible to detect matings by marked males in the spermatheca of females. Here, marking of Anopheles gambiae sensu stricto with rhodamine B and uranine was performed to estimate their potential contribution.MethodsTwo fluorescent markers, rhodamine B and uranine, were dissolved in sugar water and fed to adult An. gambiae. Concentrations that are useful for marking individuals and seminal fluid were determined. The effects on adult longevity, the durability of the marking and detection of the marker in mated females was determined. Male mating competitiveness was also evaluated.ResultsRhodamine B marking in adults is detectable for at least 3 weeks, however uranine marking declines with time and at low doses can be confused with auto-fluorescence. Both can be used for marking seminal fluid which can be detected in females mated by marked males, but, again, at low concentrations uranine-marking is more easily confused with the natural fluorescence of seminal fluid. Neither dye affected mating competitiveness.ConclusionsBoth markers tested could be useful for field and laboratory studies. Their use has substantial potential to contribute to a greater understanding of the bio-ecology of this important malaria vector. Rhodamine B has the advantage that it appears to be perma

Journal article

Epopa PS, Millogo AA, Collins C, North AR, Benedict MQ, Tripet F, O'Loughlin S, Dabiré RK, Ouédraogo GA, Diabate Aet al., 2020, Anopheles gambiae (s.l.) is found where few are looking: assessing mosquito diversity and density outside inhabited areas using diverse sampling methods, Parasites and Vectors, Vol: 13, ISSN: 1756-3305

BackgroundOne of the promising current approaches to curb malaria lies in genetic vector control, the implementation of which will require an improved understanding of the movement of genetic constructs among mosquito populations. To predict potential gene flow from one area to another, it is important to begin to understand mosquito dynamics outside of the commonly-sampled village areas, and thus how genes may move between villages. This study assessed the presence and relative abundance of mosquitoes in a 6-km corridor between two villages in western Burkina Faso.MethodsThe area surrounding the villages was mapped and the road between them was used as the basis of a transect along which to sample. Five collection points were placed along this transect. To investigate both larval and adult mosquito presence, multiple sampling approaches were used surrounding each point: searching for larval sites in an area of 500 m radius, swarm sampling, human landing catches (HLC), CDC light traps and backpack aspiration catches of potential resting sites. Sampling took place twice: in September and October 2015.ResultsAdult mosquitoes from six species of Anopheles and three other genera were found along the whole transect. Anopheles gambiae (s.l.) was the most abundant followed by Anopheles nili and Anopheles coustani. Larvae of Anopheles spp. were found in small pools of surface water along the whole transect, though their presence increased with human proximity. HLC and aspiration were the most efficient methods of collecting adult mosquitoes along the whole transect, indicating that there are both host-seeking and resting mosquitoes well away from core village areas. In contrast, swarms of male mosquitoes, thought to be the principle mating locations of Anopheles spp. mosquitoes in West Africa, were only found close to the core village areas.ConclusionsThis preliminary study indicates that Anopheles spp. mosquitoes are both present and breeding in low human-density areas alo

Journal article

Hunt C, Collins C, Benedict MQ, 2020, Measuring and reducing biofilm in mosquito rearing containers, Parasites and Vectors, Vol: 13, ISSN: 1756-3305

BACKGROUND: Mosquito rearing containers contain organic-rich water that nourishes numerous bacteria, some of which are capable of forming biofilms. Biofilm is broadly an extracellular polymeric matrix (EPS) in which living bacteria occur, and the accumulation of biofilm is possible during routine stock-keeping as most of these containers are re-used. Whether biofilm has an effect on the mosquito rearing is not a question that has been investigated, nor have measures to reduce biofilm in this context been systematically studied. METHODS: We measured biofilm accumulation in standard rearing containers by staining with crystal violet and determining the OD using a spectrophotometer. We also treated rearing containers with 0.1% sodium hypochlorite to determine its effectiveness in reducing biofilm abundance. Lastly, we performed an analysis of the relationship between the occurrence of biofilm and the likelihood of microbial blooms that were associated with larval death during trials of larval diets. RESULTS: We observed that soaking rearing containers overnight in 0.1% sodium hypochlorite greatly reduced biofilm, but we observed no relationship between the use of containers that had not been treated with bleach and subsequent microbial blooms. CONCLUSIONS: Larva rearing leaves detectable biofilm. While we were unable to correlate microbial blooms with the presence of biofilm, as a precaution, we recommend that plastic containers that are re-used be treated with 0.1% sodium hypochlorite occasionally.

Journal article

Fletcher EI, Collins C, 2020, Urban Agriculture: Declining opportunity and increasing demand. How observations from London, U.K., can inform effective response, strategy and policy on a wide scale, Urban Forestry and Urban Greening, ISSN: 1610-8167

Journal article

Hunt C, Benedict MQ, Collins C, Dotson Eet al., 2020, Surviving the journey: Comparisons of temperature-stabilizing materials for living arthropod shipments, The Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association, Vol: 36, Pages: 61-65, ISSN: 8756-971X

Shipments of living mosquitoes and other arthropods require temperatures that are within a range that is compatible with their health and survival. In addition to express shipping and insulated containers, shipments often include materials that either store heat (i.e. have thermal mass) or otherwise stabilize the temperature. In this manuscript, we present the results of comparisons of thermal mass and phase change materials to stabilize the temperature under various conditions. We compared a rigid foam refrigerant and a number of phase change materials to bubble wrap for their capacity to moderate temperature change by measuring the temperatures in standard uninsulated shipping containers during exposure to high (37°C), cold (4°C) and freezing (-20°C) temperatures. We make recommendations for shipments depending on the ambient conditions that are expected to be experienced en route.

Journal article

Savolainen V, Clottey VA, Doubi Bi TS, Konan JL, Quain M, Bezeng BS, Logah V, Kena AW, Osekre EA, Atuah L, Angui CMV, Ameka G, Turkson B, Boatemaa A, Anankware JP, Arwoh Boafo H, Agyei-Dwarko D, Collins CMet al., 2020, Systems thinking creates opportunities for a circular economy and sustainable palm agriculture in Africa, Current Research in Environmental Sustainability, Vol: 1, Pages: 31-34, ISSN: 2666-0490

Palm agriculture has received strong criticism in recent years due to its link with deforestation, especially in Asia. Here we propose that there is instead an opportunity for sustainable palm futures in Africa. Applying interdisciplinary systems thinking and circular production models, food and economic security can be achieved sustainably by (i) promoting integrated production of nutritionally valuable insect and fungal protein using palm crop waste; (ii) increasing resilience and productivity of crop palms in the harsh tropical climates of sub-Saharan Africa; and (iii) promoting the development of palm plantations as biodiverse agroforestry ecosystems.

Journal article

Collins CMT, Quinlan MM, 2020, Auditing preparedness for vector control field studies, The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, Vol: 102, Pages: 707-710, ISSN: 0002-9637

The value of baseline entomological data to any future area-wide release campaign relies on the application of consistent methods to produce results comparable across different times and places in a stepwise progression to larger releases. Traditionally, standard operating procedures (SOPs) and operational plans support this consistency and, thus, the validity of emergent data. When release plans include transgenic mosquitoes for vector control or other novel beneficial insects, additional factors come into play such as biosafety permits, stakeholder acceptance, and ethics approval, which require even greater coordination and thoroughness. An audit approach was developed to verify the correct use of SOPs and appropriate performance of tasks during mosquito mark, release, recapture (MRR) studies. Audit questions matched SOPs, permit terms and conditions, and other key criteria, and can be used to support subsequent “spot check” verification by field teams. An external team of auditors, however, was found to be effective for initial checks in this example before the use of a transgenic strain of laboratory mosquitoes. We recommend similar approaches for field studies using release of novel beneficial insects, to ensure useful and valid data as an outcome and to support confidence in the rigor of the step-wise process.

Journal article

Benedict MQ, Hunt CM, Vella MG, Gonzalez KM, Dotson EM, Collins CMet al., 2020, Pragmatic selection of larval mosquito diets for insectary rearing of Anopheles gambiae and Aedes aegypti, PLoS One, Vol: 15, ISSN: 1932-6203

Larval mosquitoes are aquatic omnivorous scavengers which scrape food from submerged surfaces and collect suspended food particles with their mouth brushes. The composition of diets that have been used in insectaries varies widely though necessarily provides sufficient nutrition to allow colonies to be maintained. Issues such as cost, availability and experience influence which diet is selected. One component of larval diets, essential fatty acids, appears to be necessary for normal flight though deficiencies may not be evident in laboratory cages and are likely more important when mosquitoes are reared for release into the field in e.g. mark-release-recapture and genetic control activities. In this study, four diets were compared for rearing Anopheles gambiae and Aedes aegypti, all of which provide these essential fatty acids. Two diets were custom formulations specifically designed for mosquitoes (Damiens) and two were commercially available fish foods: Doctors Foster and Smith Koi Staple Diet and TetraMin Plus Flakes. Development rate, survival, dry weight and adult longevity of mosquitoes reared with these four diets were measured. The method of presentation of one diet, Koi pellets, was additionally fed in two forms, pellets or a slurry, to determine any effect of food presentation on survival and development rate. While various criteria might be selected to choose 'the best' food, the readily-available Koi pellets resulted in development rates and adult longevity equal to the other diets, high survival to the adult stage and, additionally, this is available at low cost.

Journal article

Didham RK, Barbero F, Collins CM, Forister ML, Hassall C, Leather SR, Packer L, Saunders ME, Stewart AJAet al., 2020, Spotlight on insects: trends, threats and conservation challenges, Insect Conservation and Diversity, Vol: 13, Pages: 99-102, ISSN: 1752-458X

There is mounting concern over the conservation status and long‐term trends in insect populations. Many insect populations have been reported to be falling and many species are threatened with extinction. While this is true, the evidence does not support unqualified statements of ‘global insect decline’. Global environmental change does not affect all species equally, and there are clear winners as well as losers from anthropogenic impacts.In this special issue of Insect Conservation and Diversity, we draw together articles that (i) identify key challenges in robust inference about insect population trends, (ii) present new empirical evidence for declines (and increases) in insect populations, spanning whole communities down to single species, in both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, and (iii) address the interacting drivers of population change, from empirical studies of environmental correlates, to experimental manipulation of driving mechanisms.We argue that the way forward for insect conservation includes more nuanced language and approaches when communicating ecological evidence to peer and public audiences, beyond just a simplistic focus on the insect decline narrative. This will require an expanded portfolio of approaches to promote the value of insects to society, which in turn, should reinforce the social licence to prioritise insect conservation research. This should help us to deliver the rigorous science necessary to document ongoing trends and understand the drivers and mechanisms of population change. Only then will we be able to mitigate or reverse declining populations.

Journal article

Didham RK, Basset Y, Collins CM, Leather SR, Littlewood NA, Menz MHM, Müller J, Packer L, Saunders ME, Schönrogge K, Stewart AJA, Yanoviak SP, Hassall Cet al., 2020, Interpreting insect declines: seven challenges and a way forward, Insect Conservation and Diversity, Vol: 13, Pages: 103-114, ISSN: 1752-458X

Many insect species are under threat from the anthropogenic drivers of global change. There have been numerous well‐documented examples of insect population declines and extinctions in the scientific literature, but recent weaker studies making extreme claims of a global crisis have drawn widespread media coverage and brought unprecedented public attention. This spotlight might be a double‐edged sword if the veracity of alarmist insect decline statements do not stand up to close scrutiny.We identify seven key challenges in drawing robust inference about insect population declines: establishment of the historical baseline, representativeness of site selection, robustness of time series trend estimation, mitigation of detection bias effects, and ability to account for potential artefacts of density dependence, phenological shifts and scale‐dependence in extrapolation from sample abundance to population‐level inference.Insect population fluctuations are complex. Greater care is needed when evaluating evidence for population trends and in identifying drivers of those trends. We present guidelines for best‐practise approaches that avoid methodological errors, mitigate potential biases and produce more robust analyses of time series trends.Despite many existing challenges and pitfalls, we present a forward‐looking prospectus for the future of insect population monitoring, highlighting opportunities for more creative exploitation of existing baseline data, technological advances in sampling and novel computational approaches. Entomologists cannot tackle these challenges alone, and it is only through collaboration with citizen scientists, other research scientists in many disciplines, and data analysts that the next generation of researchers will bridge the gap between little bugs and big data.

Journal article

Hunt CM, Benedict MQ, Collins CM, Dotson EMet al., 2019, COMPARISONS OF TEMPERATURE-STABILIZING MATERIALS FOR LIVING ARTHROPOD SHIPMENTS, 68th Annual Meeting of the American-Society-for-Tropical-Medicine-and-Hygiene (ASTMH)


Collins C, Vaskou P, Kountouris I, 2019, Insect food products in the Western world: assessing the potential of a new ‘green’ market, Annals of the Entomological Society of America, Vol: 112, Pages: 518-528, ISSN: 0013-8746

Although two billion people already eat insects in the world and the benefits of edible insects are well known, these ‘green’ sources of protein are neither treated as conventional food products nor widely incorporatedinto Western diets. Using a school-based investigation surveying 161 children, aged 6–15, and 114 of theirparents in London, and an online consumer survey with mainly British and French consumers (N = 1,020), this research provides insights into the potential of the insect market in the West. This work supports the idea that incorporating insect food into our diets makes not only environmental but also business sense.A nonnegligible segment of the population surveyed is willing to pay for mealworm minced meat and young children and pre-teens could represent a substantial market segment, as yet unexplored. This analysis points to multiple marketing strategies, such as early exposure, education, reducing the visibility of insect parts, celebrity endorsement, or peer-to-peer marketing, all of which could facilitate the adoption of insect food in the ‘mainstream’ arena, according to the consumer segment being targeted. Generalizations from these results are restricted to an educated and youthful subset of the potential consumer pool and further work remains to understand the patterns of Western consumer acceptance for the range of insect foods.

Journal article

Dickie F, Miyamoto M, Collins CM, 2019, The potential of insect farming to increase food security, Edible Insects, Editors: Mikkola, Publisher: Intech Open, ISBN: 978-1-78985-636-1

Insect protein production through ‘mini-livestock farming’ has enormouspotential to reduce the level of undernutrition in critical areas across the world. Sustainable insect farming could contribute substantially to increased food security, most especially in areas susceptible to environmental stochasticity. Entomophagyhas long been acknowledged as an underutilised strategy to address issues of food security. This chapter reviews and provides a synthesis of the literature surrounding the potential of insect farming to alleviate food security while promoting food sovereignty and integrating social acceptability. These are immediate and current problems of food security and nutrition that must be solved to meet the UNDP Sustainable Development Goals.

Book chapter

McDade H, Collins C, 2019, How might we overcome ‘Western’ resistance to eating insects?, Edible Insects, Editors: Mikkola, Publisher: IntechOpen, ISBN: 978-1-78985-636-1

Entomophagy, the consumption of insects as a food source, occurs at a global scale with over 2 billion people seeing it as traditional. This practice does not extend into mainstream Western culture where its introduction is often met by a range of barriers, leaving entomophagy often seen as a taboo. The ‘disgust response’ of food neophobia and a lack of social and cultural contexts that reduce adoption may be overcome by strategic application of tools arising from innovation diffusion theory: relative advantage; compatibility; low complexity; trialability and observability. This chapter accessibly reviews known barriers to uptake and outlines the potential application of these concepts in promoting the wider acceptance of entomophagy.

Book chapter

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