Previous Research Projects:
2009-2010 Cardiff University
Fungus-Collembola interactions: Nutritional availability of basidiomycete fungi to collembola populations.
Supervised By: Dr.Hefin Jones; Prof Lynne Boddy.
Resources available for fungal decomposition are scattered through woodland ecosystems. Some wood decomposing fungi are able to exploit these resources by producing networks of hyphae across the surface of the soil. These networks are vulnerable to grazing by soil invertebrates and may in fact play an important role in supporting food webs in these ecosystems. The nutritional effects of different Basidiomycete fungi to springtails (Collembola) have not previously been investigated. Populations of two springtail species (Folsomia candida and Protaphorura armata) were measured over time as they fed upon the hyphae of three Basidiomycete fungi (Hypholoma fasciculare, Phanaerochaete velutina and Resinicium bicolor). Populations showed increased growth when feeding upon R.bicolor but reduced growth when feeding upon H.fasciculare and P.velutina. This work shows that nutritional quality of fungi is varied and highlights the need to understand what makes a fungus a high or a low quality resource for grazing.
2008-2009 Cardiff university & National Museum of Wales
Supervised By: Dr. Bill Symondson; Dr. Ben Rowson.
The diet and feeding behaviour of many animals is currently unclear. Feeding events may take place to quickly to be observed, food may not be able to be visably identified through observation or the feeding event may take place in an environment which researchers may find it difficult to access without disturbing the natural feeding interaction. Problems of these kinds are often recognised in Pulmonate land snails, where feeding interactions often take place in at night and under cover. Furthermore, where observations can be made due to feeding by radulation it is often hard to distinguish whether a snail is feeding or moving over the potential prey item. This work investigated the use of PCR based molecular methodologies to study feeding behaviour in carniverous Oxychillus snails. Prey DNA was extracted from the guts and faeces of a number of species within the genus and screened using a number of slug and earthworm primers. The length of time for which DNA could be detected in these samples after a feeding interaction was determined using feeding trials. Understanding feeding interactions is important when considering niche differentiation between functionally similar species in the same habitat, ecosystem dynamics and threats posed by invasive species. The techniques used in this work invite further work into feeding behaviour of ecologically important gastropods and mollusca.
Meetings and Conferences:
IMC9 - The Biology of Fungi. 1st-6th August 2010 - link
Warwick HRI Postgraduate Symposium. 6th-7th May 2010 - link
Cardiff University Postgraduate Symposium. May 2009