Meet The Team: Laura Timms

Laura Timms is the NBP’s postdoctoral researcher.  She now works out of the Lyman Museum under the supervision of Terry Wheeler and Chris Buddle.  Laura will be working in Yellowknife and Cambridge Bay this field season.
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I joined the NBP after completing my PhD (2010) in the Faculty of Forestry at the University of Toronto, where I studied the ecological impacts of the gypsy moth on native forest caterpillars and their parasitoids. I also earned my MScF (2005) at U of T, researching the within-tree distribution of another introduced forest insect, the emerald ash borer. My research on the gypsy moth focused on the long-term ecological impacts of species invasion, addressing the question of what happens to an existing food web when a new species is introduced. Overall, the results of my doctoral research indicated that native forest caterpillar communities were mostly resilient to gypsy moth invasion. This was a surprise to me, and inspired me to pursue questions on the impacts of other types of disturbance on insect communities. Cue the NBP!
 
My research with the NBP focuses on the Ichneumonidae, a family of parasitic wasps in the order Hymenoptera. Ichneumonidae is one of the largest families of organisms on earth, with over 60,000 known species in 38 subfamilies. There is a great deal of variation within and between the subfamilies in regards to host groups, life history strategies, appearance, and biogeography. In general, ichneumonid richness peaks at higher latitudes than most other animal groups (at around 38-42 degrees) and drops off at a slower rate heading north than it does heading south. This portion of northern biodiversity remains largely unstudied, however, despite that fact that ichneumonids play a number of important ecological roles and that the impacts of climate change on ichneumonids and other parasitoids may represent a magnified view of the impacts on lower trophic levels. Broadly, my research addresses these issues by looking at patterns in ichneumonid diversity across our sample sites, and comparing present day diversity to historical data.
I started working with the NBP in September, and so missed out on last year’s field work. But I’m very excited this year to be heading way further North than I’ve ever been before – to Yellowknife, NT and Cambridge Bay, NU!
 
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