Community Ecology, Invasion Biology, Social Insects, Conservation Science
We study natural history, community assembly, and species invasions at multiple scales in natural and human-altered landscapes. The overarching themes of the research program are to understand how insects impact ecosystem functions, how insects affect the delivery of ecosystem services, and what the ecological mechanisms are that drive species invasions associated with land-use changes. To accomplish this, we use experiments and comparative approaches to better understand the ecology of insects. We focus on social insects as model organisms because: (1) they are among the most abundant and diverse families of animals, and therefore very important ecologically, (2) they are tractable study subjects at almost any latitude, (3) numerous species are important terrestrial invaders, and (4) a range of levels of social organization and life history strategies can be found within social insects.