I specialise in Sensory Ecology – understanding the evolution of animal and plant signals such as colours and scents. How do animals perceive these signals? How do plants use signals to exploit animal behaviour? How can we use animal communication for conservation?
See here for current students’ projects. Google Scholar profile.
Orchid pollination – sexual deception and evolution
Diverse and enigmatic, orchids and their pollinators make fascinating research subjects. I investigate how orchids lure insects into acting as pollinators with fake signals advertising sex, food, or egg-laying sites. Some orchids fool pollinators into wasting sperm (youtube clip). If this is costly, why don’t orchid pollinators go extinct? Maybe there are secret resilience traits waiting to be discovered!
Seabird sensory ecology
Seabirds tend to live in colonies, often in burrows and return from long foraging trips at night, so they are likely to use scent and colour in different ways to terrestrial, day active birds. Seabirds are one of the most at-risk animal groups, how can we harness their sensory ecology to assist in conservation?
Moss ecology and animal behaviour
Surprisingly, several mosses employ insects and other arthropods in their reproduction. Studying these ancient moss lineages gives insight into the early origins of complex plant-animal interactions, and crucially, how ecological networks can survive in a changing world.
General pollination ecology, sensory ecology topics
I also supervise students studying various other aspects of plant-pollinator interactions, or animal sensory ecology.