Current Research

Laura Timms, MSc.F., PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow, Northern Biodiversity Program
Lyman Entomological Museum
Natural Resource Sciences, McGill University, Macdonald Campus

Research Interests
I am a community ecologist who uses insects as model taxa to pursue current ecological questions.  My research focuses on insect host-parasitoid networks.  Parasitoids have fascinating life histories and make great models for the study of community structure and multitrophic interactions, among other things. Knowledge of the structure of host-parasitoid communities also allows for prediction, detection, and measurement of the impacts of disturbance on the diversity and function of those communities.  In addition, the essential ecosystem services provided by parasitoids make research in this area relevant for applications in biological control and conservation

Current Research
I am currently a postdoc with the Northern Biodiversity Program, a collaborative research initiative that uses insects and spiders as models for monitoring environmental change across the boreal, sub-arctic, and high-arctic eco-climatic zones.  As part of this program my research focuses on biogeographical and historical variation in communities of parasitic wasps, in particular in a few subfamilies of the Ichneumonidae.  Ichneumonid parasitoids are a diverse and important group of organisms in northern climates.  They play essential roles in ecosystem function; in addition to regulating their herbivorous insect hosts, parasitoids can act as pollinators and as prey for vertebrate wildlife.  Changes in the identities and abundances of parasitoids in an area may in turn cause feedback into host population dynamics, creating the potential for community-wide consequences.  My research focuses on identifying these changes in parasitoid diversity, making comparisons across both ecological and temporal gradients.

Left: Dissecting leaves in the "lab", Dempster Highway, summer 2012
Middle: Malaise trap near Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, summer 2011
Top Right: View near Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, summer 2011

Bottom Right: Tundra collecting transportation, summer 2011