Jeremy Thomas

Department of Zoology
South Parks Rd

Professor of Ecology and Fellow of New College

Jeremy’s research focuses on understanding the factors that determine change in species’ abundance, distributions and specializations.

Much of his work involves studying the population, community, functional or evolutionary ecology of insects, and much was inspired by the need to manipulate insect populations in order to solve conservation problems. Successful applications include the re-establishment of the globally endangered Large blue butterfly in the UK.

Of particular relevance to the food system is his research on:

  1. Devising methods to acquire, interpret and analyze extensive datasets describing continental-scale patterns of change in the abundance and distributions of insect species in response to climate and other environmental changes, using data collected by thousands of skilled amateurs in the field
  2. Minimalist studies of the population dynamic interactions of various insect species with their resources and natural enemies in various anthropogenic ecosystems, including responses to geographical and temporal changes in climate
  3. Collaborations to model study systems to explore evolutionary and population dynamic changes resulting from a changing environment.      

Professor Thomas is Professor of Ecology in the Department of Zoology, a Fellow of New College and of NERC’s Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, a  visiting Professor at the University of Reading, and President of The Royal Entomological Society.


Recent Relevant Publications: 

Chapman, JW, Bell, JR, Burgin, LE, Reynolds, DR, Petterson, LB, Hill, JK, Bonsall, MB, Thomas, JA (2012) Seasonal migration to high latitudes results in major reproductive benefits in an insect. PNAS 109, 14924-29. This paper, which includes Bayesian and other models constructed by Co-PI Bonsall, analysed radar counts and long-term datasets of Europe’s most abundant migratory pest moth species, establishing a new paradigm for understanding the population dynamics of pest insect migrants under current and changing climates.

Oliver, T.H, Roy, D.B, Brereton, T, Thomas, JA (2012) Reduced variability in range-edge butterfly populations over three decades of climate warming. Global Change Biology 18, 1531-1539. This paper describes 40-year changes in the stability and abundance of UK butterfly populations in different parts of species’ ranges as local climates have changed Insect population curves: modelling and application to butterfly transect data

Soulsby, RL & Thomas, JA (2012) Insect population curves: modelling and application to butterfly transect data Methods in Ecology & Evolution 3, 832-841. This paper provides a new unbiased method for fitting curves to the extensive datasets of insect abundance that are collected annually by thousands of skilled amateurs in many nations.

 Thomas, JA, Simcox, DJ, Clarke, RT (2009) Successful Conservation of a Threatened Maculinea Butterfly. Science 325, 80-83. This paper exemplifies how, given a detailed understanding of a species’ population ecology, its habitat can be manipulated to support (in this case) large, stable populations.

Thomas, J. A. (2005) Monitoring change in the abundance and distribution of insects using butterflies and other indicator groups. Phil Trans R Soc B 360, 339-357. This reviews the success and limitations of available methods to monitor the changing staus of insect species.

Thomas, J. A., et al.  (2004) Comparative losses of British butterflies, birds and plants and the global extinction crisis. Science 303 1879-1881 This paper provides the first large-scale comparison between population and range changes across three terrestrial taxa during recent decades of climate and other environmental changes.