Senior Research Group:
Climate change represents a profound threat to biodiversity at all levels of organization. In particular, climatic extremes - heat waves, droughts, heavy rainfall - are challenging many species of plants and animals to respond adaptively. My research involves the effects of climatic extremes on the ecophysiology of insects and spiders. My group is focusing on how exposure to short-term extremes such as heat affect the development, survival, and reproduction of false widow spiders (Steatoda spp.), examining such processes as egg and sperm viability. I also study temporal variations in microclimatic variables in different habitats (e.g. field margins, forests, etc.). Other research I am involved in studies soil communities in different populations of wild plants such as cabbage; the biology and ecology of parasitoid wasps; invasive plants and animals (e.g. warty cabbage, cane toads). I am a Special Professor of Biological Conservation and Advocacy at the Free University in Amsterdam, where I teach a course on science communication. My research there is based on ways of evaluating the ways that social and mainstream media outlets cover contemporary topics such as climate change and biodiversity loss.
Current PhD students: Yuting Dong (The biology of false widow spiders under climatic extremes); Xianhui Shi (The bionomics of the facultative hyperparasitoid Gelis agilis); Marit Bogert (VU) (Science communication and public opinion on climate change).
Current collaborators: Minghui Fei (Nanjing Agricultural University); Paul Ode (Colorado State University); Robin Heinen (Technical University, Munich).