My research focuses on the environmental factors shaping life history traits in arthropods and particularly on variations in defense strategies within and among species. Since the beginning of my PhD, my research is divided into three themes.
First, I investigated the two selective pressures, bottom-up and top-down, shaping insect defenses in populations through a tri-trophic model system, host plant – insect – parasitoid. To access this investigation, I used two species well known as harmful pests in European vineyards, the grapevine moth (Lobesia botrana) and the grape berry moth (Eupoecilia ambiguella) which live and reproduce on different grape varieties and are parasitized by different parasitoids.
Secondly, I studied the resistance of arthropod populations to anthropic disturbance (i.e. management practices in crops) and how it affects a population’s regulation. I used different pest and beneficial arthropod communities (mites, leafhopper and spider) living in vineyards to investigate their resistance to pesticides.
Finally, I examined how social environment interacts with internal (i.e. age, gender, casts) and external factors (i.e. pathogens presence) to shape defenses in social and sub-social insects. I used the European earwig, Forficula auricularia, a subsocial insect with facultative family life to investigate the importance of maternal care on personal immunity. I also study the stingless bee, Frieseomelitta varia, to understand if the immune investment of the different castes depends on their task in the colony.
Since arthropods are often pests, studying their life history traits and mostly their ability to defend themselves against threats or react to anthropic disturbance can help to regulate their populations. Creating a bridge between fundamental and applied research is important to ensure that future agricultural and ecological concerns can be addressed with success.
« Importance of maternal care on personal immunity in an insect with facultative family life ». See more details here : http://www.bio.uni-mainz.de/zoo/evobio/527_ENG_HTML.php#L_Research_Interests