-What is currently on top of your research agenda?
I’m interested in evolutionary ecology and currently, my three main projects are in one way or another centered around plant-insect interactions in Spodoptera moths. In one project, I study phenotypic plasticity and host plant selection during range expansion in S. littoralis to understand if and how this varies between range margin and core populations.. In another, I work with researchers at SLU, in Kenya and in France, on the effects of host plant species on antagonistic interactions between the invasive Fall Armyworm, S. frugiperda, and other insects. The aim of this project is to develop sustainable pest management. In the third project, my postdoc Audrey Bras studies how evolution of pesticide resistance is related to host plant range and the potential for cross-resistance between tolerance to pesticides and host plant chemicals.
-Tell us about your latest publication?
My latest publication is a perspective in Evolutionary Applications that I’ve written together with Åsa Lankinen and Johan Stenberg. In this paper, we explore and suggest how evolutionary knowledge could be used in integrated pest management. You can read all about it here: https://doi.org/10.1111/eva.13067
-What led you into your particular field of research?
Since my PhD I’ve been interested in antagonistic selection, which I originally studied in the context of sexual conflict. During my postdoc at Helsinki University I began to work with plant-insect interactions studying how a plant pathogen could affect insect performance. When returning back home, I decided to turn to SLU to see if it is possible to use evolutionary knowledge about antagonistic interactions and selection when addressing agricultural pest problems.
-What are the implications of your research for the society?
Most of my research is fundamental science and I hope that increased knowledge of e.g. evolution and insect behaviour could contribute to a will in society to preserve biodiversity. If you know how fascintating something is, you may want to protect it. With regards to my research that is more applied, I hope it could be a little piece contributing to sustainable control of the Fall Armyworm and food security.
-Finally, let´s say you got unlimited research funds; where would your research be five years from now?
Oh, wow, that’s a wonderful question! I think I would continue to work with one foot in the field of evolutionary ecology and one foot in applied pest management – or rather to synthesise these two fields! A large part of the funding would be devoted to the manpower needed for yearly field surveys to obtain long-term data series on how populations change over time,, and to perform large experiments taking several specie, populations and generations into account. I love complex experimental design!