• About Me

    I am a PhD candidate in Rachel Spigler's lab in the Department of Biology at Temple University. I use field studies to investigate several facets of plant-pollinator mutualisms. First, I am interested in how the turnover of interacting species shapes community properties related to resilience, extinctions, and efficient pollination. Additionally, I’m interested in how morphological features and ecological context influence the pollination of flowers. My studies have included the use of video cameras to automate field observations and post-recording processing to streamline data generation.

  • Research Projects

    Intra-annual variation of community interactions

    Current research topic

    Although the inter-annual dynamics of networks have been well-studied, empirical work focusing on the intra-annual dynamics of networks is less common. Understanding this short-term variability of community interactions is critical because properties ascribed to interaction networks made from entire seasons may not apply uniformly to communities throughout the season. Consequently, this pooling of interactions across large time scales may obscure short term trends in interactions that are relevant to our understanding of the relationships between individual species and the overall structure of the community. I seek to better understand how the interactions of communities change over short time scales.

    The effects of community context and floral traits on pollination

    Current research topic

    Successful pollination requires a flower visitor to forage from multiple individuals of the same flowering species in succession. However, this delivery of conspecific pollen can be impeded by neighboring co-flowering species that distract pollinators and lower the quality of pollen loads. Indeed, many plants within a community share pollinating species to some degree. Individual insects can even visit different flowering species during the same foraging bout. This reliance on shared pollinators can result in direct competition for pollinator visits and interference competition via heterospecific pollen transfer (HPT) between co-flowering species. Receipt of foreign pollen can be detrimental to female fitness and the loss of pollen to heterospecifics can reduce male fitness. I am interested in how community context and floral morphology traits impact pollinator visitation rates and pollen deposition.

    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