The aim of my PhD is to understand how the changing climate is affecting the abundance, distribution and phenology of organisms, particularly agricultural and forest pests and insect disease vectors.
Climate change means that pests are on the move. As the climate changes, many organisms respond by shifting their distribution and abundance. Not only are species geographically shifting, they are shifting their spring timing and arrival dates as well (phenology). The spread of pests to new areas creates potentially enormous implications for public health, food production, and wildlife conservation.
A key to understand and mitigate these potential consequences is to characterize how observed changes in climate are altering the distribution of animals that act as pests and to use climate projection models to predict future biotic changes in these pest species. The EXAMINE (Exploitation of Aphid Monitoring systems IN Europe) aphid dataset from Rothamsted Research (BBSRC) includes daily insect trap data for 41 years at 17 trap sites across Britain. Using this network, I aim to address how changes in climate across the United Kingdom are affecting the distribution, abundance and phenology of agricultural and forest aphid pests.
In the future, I aim to conduct field analyses to ground truth my findings and to ultimately expand the analyses to include other taxa, such as the glassy winged sharpshooter, a wine grape pest that is invasive to California.
I am jointly supervised by Tim Coulson (Imperial College) and Richard Harrington (Rothamsted Research, BBSRC). I am funded by the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and received the Imperial College International Student Scholarship and Imperial College Student Opportunities Fund for my PhD research.