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Our research encompasses terrestrial ecological interactions at a variety of scales.
- Plants and insect pollinators
- Native and alien invasive species
- Landscape ecology
The Plant-Animal Interactions research group mainly uses plant-pollinator ecology as a model system for investigating anthropogenic impacts on biodiversity and the delivery of ecosystem service. Current research includes investigations of interactions between invasive and native species, agrobiodiversity and pollination services in agri-ecosystems, landscape scale influences on biodiversity and pollination services, and economic valuation of pollination services. Research is mostly field-based and has been conducted in sites across Ireland. Large scale studies of plant and insect communities, insect-flower interactions and pollination services have been conducted in farmland of different types (including organic dairy pastures and energy crops) and in semi-natural sites (including semi-natural grasslands and fixed dunes). In addition, the effects of invasive species on pollination interactions are investigated, using Rhododendron ponticum and Impatiens glandulifera as model systems. Rhododendron is particularly interesting as its nectar and pollen contain toxins which may potentially affect pollinators. Research is examining the effects of toxic nectar from invasive Rhododendron on native insects and determining why toxic nectar is produced – is it to deter flower visitors that do not pollinate? The group is led by Dr Jane Stout, and currently comprises a post-doctoral researcher and eight PhD students. The research group is one of the leading groups within the Trinity Centre for Biodiversity Research.