Evolutionary Biology, Ecology, Biogeography, Entomology, Conservation
I am a community ecologist with a passion for the patterns and processes that structure tropical rainforests. My work combines theoretical ecology with experiments, always with experiments, to understand how the evolutionary relationships of tropical arthropods affect their ecological interactions. My field site is in Danum Valley, an area of pristine tropical rainforest in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. My ultimate goal is to develop theoretical frameworks that can be used to conserve tropical biodiversity by informing sustainable management practices.
I am a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (FRGS), the Royal Society of Biology (FRSB), and the Higher Education Academy (FHEA). My other professional roles include scientific advisor for ProCam, one of the UK’s largest agronomy companies. Every now and again I work with the BBC, acting as scientific consultant for BBC series such as Wonders of the Monsoon and One Planet.
As a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Applied Sciences at UWE Bristol, I lecture undergraduates on insect taxonomy, physiology and biology; biodiversity and conservation; evolutionary biology; community and behavioural ecology. I also supervise undergraduate projects in a wide variety of subjects and teach on the UWE/BBC Natural History Unit Masters in Wildlife Filmmaking. I am a member of the Centre for Research in Biosciences (CRIB).
Introduced a novel approach to the study of interspecific competition, revealing that competition can lead to unexpected patterns in tropical ant communities. Acta Oecologica 75: 24-34 (2016)
Integrated niche partitioning and migration to provide a novel explanation for the widespread rarity of species in ecological communities. Ecological Modelling 258: 33-39 (2013)
Showed how facilitation from interspecific neighbours increases the population sizes of rare species, making them less prone to extinction. Journal of Plant Ecology 5: 417-421 (2012)
Separated the effects of latitude and spatial scale in structuring communities of intertidal invertebrates from around the world. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 104: 527-540 (2011)
Quantified the physiological effects of respiratory vapour exchange on the isotopic signature of insect haemolymph, providing a unique method for studying phenotypic adaptation and predicting the fate of the world’s tracheated arthropods under climate change. Biology Letters 7: 601-604 (2011)
Separated the effects of environmental filtering, seasonal variations, and ecological succession in structuring arthropod decomposer communities. Ecology Letters 12: 277-284 (2009)
Doubled the estimate of invertebrate biomass in a rainforest canopy. Nature 429: 549-551 (2004)
—Dr Farnon Ellwood at the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), 2016