Biology Lecture: Invasive Species

Biology Lecture: Invasive Species

Lauren O'Hagan: 06/10/2016

On the 6th October 2016, Dr Poland, Head of Biology here at Clifton College, gave a fascinating talk on her PhD work investigating the effects of an invading species of ladybird had in the ecological systems.

Over the course of the lecture, Dr Poland discussed with us her degree choices, her choice to remain at university for postgraduate, and even post doctorate study, which as an individual considering a career in academia, I found incredibly enlightening. Within the lecture, Dr Poland also explained to us the work that she carried out whist researching for her PhD, investigating the effects of an invading predator has on an ecosystem. Although I had originally thought that it wouldn’t be a particularly interesting lecture, not having any interest in ladybirds, I didn’t realise that the work carried out by Dr Poland could be so interesting.

Furthermore, not only was her talk surprising but it was also full of strong reminders of the potential unpredictability of academic research, for example in Dr Poland’s case, taking a drastic U-turn in the subject of her research within 3 months of beginning her research, simply by being in the right place at the right time. Linking to this, I also found out the potential opportunities that can be opened up to individuals carrying out/ involved in academic research. Again using Dr Poland as an example, from appearing on television to working with many countries internationally, these were all opportunities that were given to her by taking the risk that she did with her research work.

The talk encompassed the work carried out by Dr Poland into investigating Harmonia axyridis, The Harlequin Ladybird. Originally from Asia, it had been used as method or controlling Aphid populations; however, its population grew out of control to become the most invasive population of ladybird across the world. Furthermore it was first discovered in the UK in an Essex pub in 2004, when Dr Poland began her research, and over her 6 years of academic research, she investigated the insect, its population size, its effect on the other ecological systems within the UK and a means to control them. Remembering that I have no particular interest in ladybirds so am coming from quite a biased point of view, I cannot deny that I thought that it sounded like an excellent opportunity and thoroughly interesting cause of research.

I highly recommend the Wednesday science talks as they are really interesting and easily followed, especially for A level scientists considering science at University.