The Integrative Entomology group was officially formed in 2015 after the group leader completed a research fellowship within the Mathematical Biology group. Our current members include postdocs, RAs and students with experience in entomology, modelling, bioimaging, virology and high containment biosafety.
The Integrative Entomology group studies blood-feeding insects and ticks, their interactions with viruses that cause livestock and human disease and how these interactions are affected by their environment. To do this we use laboratory, field and computational experiments and use the results to develop and improve mathematical models of vector ecology, vector-virus interactions and virus transmission. These models are then used to estimate the potential range and impact of ongoing and future outbreaks of arboviral disease on health and food security, to explore the effectiveness of available control strategies (such as vaccination or vector control) and to predict the effects of future environmental change (such as climate change and farm management) on the threat of viral disease emergence.
The group’s currently active projects include:
- Developing insect population models to support the design of GM control strategies, a BBSRC FLIP award to embed mathematical population modelling techniques into development and risk assessments for GM insects;
- Seasonality, abundance and impact of large biting flies on UK dairy farms, a core-funded/BSc placement student project;
- VMerge, an EU FP7 project with 16 partners from across Europe and Africa to study the effects of factors such as larval environment and coinfection on the competence of mosquito vectors (particularly of Rift Valley Fever virus);
- Quantitative dynamics of bluetongue virus within Culicoides biting midges, a doctoral studentship project in collaboration with the Centre for Virus Research at Glasgow University;
- The mechanical transmission of pathogens, a core research interest of the group;
Emerging disease threats and the future of farming in Europe
- National Bluetongue Model Readiness, Defra funding to maintain the capability to provide simulation model outputs to policymakers in the event of an outbreak;
- Multiscale modelling of viral diseases of livestock, a BBSRC-funded Institute Project grant to support our core modelling activities.
- Modelling European Agriculture with Climate Change for Food Security (MACSUR), a JPI-funded knowledge hub of 73 European research groups modelling links between climate and farming.
To support our work on the mechanical transmission of viruses, we maintain a colony of Stomoxys calcitrans, the stable fly. In addition to being an important pest in its own right in many areas, the stable fly is commonly used as a laboratory model for mechanical transmission.