• About Me

    I am a PhD student in Rachel Spigler's lab at Temple University. My research focuses on plant-pollinator community interactions, structure, and functioning. I seek to understand how the entire plant-pollinator community functions because individual species are inextricably influenced by many others in the community. Such communities are increasingly studied using a network-based approach which has yielded critical insights into community structure, and functioning. My work helps build more comprehensive and informative networks which further our understanding of these deeply fascinating communities.

  • Research Projects

    Habitat Loss and Fragmentation

    Current research topic

    Urbanization threatens the stability of plant-pollinator interactions by simultaneously introducing several disturbances. Most obvious is the loss and fragmentation of habitable land into smaller patches that are less connected. Plant species richness and abundance tend to decrease with shrinking habitat area, reducing the strength and diversity of plant-pollinator interactions. Non-native species of plants and pollinators are common in human landscapes and can compete with or replace natives, altering community interactions. However, not all plant or pollinator species are impacted negatively and some urban areas retain diverse plant-pollinator communities. I seek to understand how we can predict which species will do well in response to increased human land-use and how mindful land development can preserve native plant-pollinator communities.

    Plant-Pollinator Network Interactions

    Current research topic

    Plant and pollinator species rarely exist in isolation; flowering plants often facilitate each other and build a diverse floral community which attracts diverse pollinators. Moreover, the interactions between plant and pollinator species are rarely specialized and the terms "generalist" and "specialist" belie the continuum of interaction specificity. Specific interactions within plant-pollinator communities constantly change, but networks persist in the long-term despite frequent interaction turnover. I am interested in understanding more precisely how these communities change over short time scales and how general interactions truly are.

     

    Optimizing Observations

    Current research topic

    Observations of plant-pollinator interactions in the field are labor intensive and comprehensive field surveys are expensive. I supplement conventional sampling methods with the filming of interactions using video cameras. This technique allows me to efficiently capture plant-pollinator interactions and build more thorough networks. Additionally, I use video analysis software to automate the process of analyzing large amounts of film.

    Honey bee foraging and pesticides

    2012-2015

    My Master's thesis work focused on the relationship between neonicotinoid pesticide exposure and honey bee foraging efficiency. I studied how field-realistic doses of pesticides influenced honey bee foraging throughout several days of exposure. This dosing regime more closely matched how bees in agricultural landscapes would be exposed to insecticides.

  • Video Samples of Pollinators Foraging

    Regal Fritllary and Bumble Bee on Thistle

    Fort Indiantown Gap, PA

    Hummingbird Hawk-Moth on Thistle

    Kennet Square, PA

    Megachilidae on Thistle

    Fort Indiantown Gap, PA

    Syrphid Flies on Helianthus

    Fort Indiantown Gap, PA

  • Email Contact

    Gerard.Smith@Temple.edu