Thomas Dally

Profile

I completed my Bachelor of Science degree in Biology at the University of Portsmouth in 2010, and my Master of Research degree in Biodiversity and Conservation at the University of Leeds in 2015. After my master's degree I successfully applied for a NERC-funded PhD with Prof. Bill Kunin in 2015, again at the University of Leeds, concentrating on insect pollinator monitoring and conservation. 

Research interests

Standardised monitoring protocols are key to being able to quantify changes in populations or communities over time. But, historically, those interested in pollinator taxa like bees and hoverflies have employed a number of different methods to do so, including: pan traps, transect walks, trap nesting, vane traps, and malaise traps. My PhD research focuses on the methods we use to monitor insect pollinator populations, their biases, and how we can improve them for use in future monitoring strategies. Specifically, I will be looking into three main areas:

1) Pan traps: Pan traps are one of the most common methods used to monitor insect pollinators due to their lack of collector bias, but the protocols surrounding their use are highly unstandardised. Part of my research will involve looking into the biases inherent in the various ways pan traps are deployed within pollinator monitoring studies and making informed recommendations for future use.

2) Bioacoustics: Sound can already be used to identify a number of insect groups across the planet, so I would like to try and apply the concepts of bioacoustic identification to some of our common UK insect pollinator groups using the passive noise generated by their wing-beats. If successful, this would provide a novel, non-lethal approach to future pollinator monitoring that would be particularly applicable to large-scale citizen science-led projects.

3) Citizen scientist training: Many monitoring programs rely on volunteer citizen scientists to gather large quantities of data over large areas and long time-frames. In the case of insect pollinator conservation, this approach presents some challenges in terms of how we train volunteers to accurately identify the wide range of taxa that do pollinate, thus helping to ensure reliable data collection. This portion of my PhD will focus on testing different methods used to train citizen scientists to identify insect pollinator groups, specifically how these different methods influence identification accuracy and personal attitudes towards the task.

Qualifications

  • Doctor of Philosophy
  • MRes Biodiversity and Conservation
  • BSc (HONS) Biology
  • Member: Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Society
  • Member: British Ecological Society