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 and communities over time. But researchers and ecologists interested in pollinators like bees and hoverflies use many different methods to do monitor these insects, and do so in a number of different ways. My PhD research focuses on these methods, 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 involves looking at the biases inherent in the various pan trapping protocols used by pollinator monitoring studies, and making informed recommendations for future use based on my findings.

2) Acoustics: 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 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 insect species that pollinate plants, helping to ensure reliable data collection. This portion of my PhD will focus on testing different methods of training citizen scientists to identify insect pollinators; specifically, how these different methods influence identification accuracy and personal attitudes towards the task.

Qualifications

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