My Work

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Phenology, Ecology and Evolution

Many species time the appearance of specific stages in their life history (their "phenology") with the appearance of other species which they depend on. Birds rear their young when the insects they feed upon are most abundant, caterpillars appear when the plants they eat are in leaf and at their most nutritious. This is referred to as phenological synchrony. My research asks:

  • How do species cope with this as a survival strategy? What adaptations do they possess to enable them to match their timing to other species they depend on?

  • Do individuals suffer from being out of sync with other species they depend on? And by how much? How robust are they to unpredictability in the availability of the species they depend on?

  • What is the effect of environmental changes on each level in the interaction, such as increases in temperature? Does that effect vary across levels? If so, how does this, in turn, effect the synchronised interactions between them?