Plant-animal interactions are increasingly recognized as drivers of evolutionary change and important components of ecological communities. Research conducted in Jane Stout’s group focusses on interactions between plants and flower-visiting animals that act as pollinators, especially bees. Understanding the ecology and the value of these interactions can benefit agricultural production, habitat management and conservation, both in rural and urban areas. We employ field-based observations and experimental studies, laboratory analyses, citizen science, and large datasets to characterise insect behaviour, plant breeding systems, plant-insect co-evolution, biodiversity and conservation of pollinators and plants. Our research is inter-disciplinary: covering both botanical and zoological fields, and we collaborate with geographers, socio-economists, chemists and molecular biologists, both nationally and internationally. We are funded nationally by the IRC, EPA, SFI, DAFM, NPWS, and internationally by various EU programmes (FP6&7, Horizon 2020, COST, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions).
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In agricultural fields, we investigate how in and off-field management influences insect communities, their interactions with flowering plants and pollination service delivery.
Bees are exposed to multiple pressures – from agricultural intensification to climate change and invasive species, by understanding how they respond to these pressures in the real world, we can devise practical conservation approaches.
In our state of the art bee room in Trinity College Dublin, we can study the response of bees to different food types, and how they are affected by disease.
Our research provides the evidence-base for decision making and informs the development of practical guidelines such as those produced by the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan (All-Ireland Pollinator Plan).