The overarching objective of the Ward Lab is to elucidate drivers of the spatiotemporal dynamics of insects and help stakeholders forecast, prevent, and/or mitigate pest impacts. We work in both natural and managed ecosystems, particularly forests, and across multiple levels of scale to investigate how individual, population, and community level processes manifest across landscapes.
Lab projects fall into two broad, interrelated areas of inquiry described below. Specific questions are often motivated by a need to understand and address ecological problems, and thus most projects are rooted in applied ecology.
Global environmental change
Climate is a key determinant of the distribution and abundance of both plants and insects. The lab is interested in how environmental variation influences insect seasonality, phenological synchrony between trophic levels, and range dynamics.
Invasion by non-native species can be categorized into three phases: arrival, establishment, and spread. We investigate factors mediating each of these phases by compiling and analyzing large data sets comprising several species and through more targeted investigations of individual, high-impact invaders.