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Research interests

I study the role of electrostatics in bumblebee pollination and electroreception. Bumblebees are electrically charged, which facilitates pollination and may allow them to sense small electric fields using their mechanosensory hairs.  I am interested in how bumblebees generate an electric charge and how it affects their ecology. I have developed a range of techniques to measure insect charge in different environments both inside and outside the laboratory and use this to look at the effects of meteorological and electrical conditions on bee charge. I also study the role of tribology in bee charging and am investigating the relative triboelectric properties of bees and flowers.

I am also interested in the potential effects of bee charge upon flowers, including how bee charge affects pollen transfer and whether bee charge may affect floral volatile emissions by allowing plants to assess pollinator abundance and target their volatile emissions accordingly. This research is conducted in collaboration with Rothamsted Research in Harpenden.

 

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