Research on insects

I am currently working on several projects. My research interests in general are in the dynamics and biodiversity of insect communities.  I have studied treehole communities (water-filled rot holes in trees in which mosquitoes and other aquatic insects live), stream macroinvertebrates, insects on decomposing carcasses, and more. Check out my work on Google Scholar or Research Gate.

Recently I have become interested in more applied research projects:

  • Collaborating with geologist Dr. Brad Johnson on a Duke Energy Water Resources-funded project examining the connections between first-order stream discharge characteristics and macroinvertebrate communities. The ultimate goals are to help improve water quality and conservation, enhance habitat, and increase public awareness.
  • Examining the effects of light pollution on insect communities on campus. By setting up light traps (white sheets with a UV light hanging in front of them), we can collect evidence of insect abundance and diversity in different areas on campus, those that are light continuously and those that are unlit at night. The goal is to determine the impact of light on communities of insects.
  • Analyzing spatial and temporal dynamics of cankerworms, and effects of tree-banding on cankerworm populations. Fall cankerworms (Alsophila pometaria) is a perennial problem in the Charlotte area. Recently, they became much more abundant in Davidson, and in past few years their abundance has declined again.
  • Effects of land use patterns on biodiversity of insect pollinators in parks and preserves. Insect pollinators provide an essential service to humans and ecosystems, and as we convert more of our land to human uses (agriculture, suburban subdivisions, shopping malls), there is less habitat that contains the flowering plants upon which our pollinators depend. Less resources may adversely affect these communities, which may then adversely affect pollination of our crops and gardens.

For more information consult also my Group Investigation course, BIO 256: Applied Insect Ecology, in which students develop a team approach to conducting research.