Insect Ecology Lab at UNE setting priorities in climate change research

Published 04 March 2013

Associate Professor Nigel Andrew, based in Zoology at The University of New England, has led a group of researchers around the world to assess climate change literature on insects in the first Issue of PeerJ, an international open access journal aiming to change the way scientific research is published.

From 1703 papers published between 1985 and 2012, Associate Professor Andrew’s group examined how climate change affecting insects is being assessed, what factors are being tested and the localities of studies. The team found that while research predicting how insects will respond to a rapidly changing climate is still in its infancy, current research gives a good basis for how the scientific community are attempting to assess insect responses.

In particular, the team identified a crucial need for broader studies of ecological, behavioural, physiological and life history responses across a greater range of geographic locations, particularly in areas of high human population growth and habitat modification.

 “It is well understood that species that are rare and have a restricted distribution may be highly vulnerable to human-induced climate change. However, the responses of common species to climate change are still poorly understood. It is anticipated that because they are common they are resilient and have a high adaptive capability to rapid change. However, extreme ecological changes can occur when the populations of common species go through a rapid and severe fluctuation.” Associate Professor Andrew said.

This research directly links to Associate Professor Andrew’s long-term achievements in climate change research, entomology, ecology and zoology with his recent achievements in physiology, behaviour, and genetics research.

 Associate Professor Andrew’s research interests span a range of interlinked topics of significance to biological and geographical diversity.