University of St Andrews

Prof Pat Willmer

Harold Mitchell Building
University of St Andrews
St Andrews
KY16 9TH

Recently Funded Projects:

1. Royal Society: (£9.5K, 1998-2000).

Work at Mpala in Kenya on ant-pollen interactions, with Dr G Stone, Edinburgh.

2. NERC: (£163K plus tied studentship £30K, 1998-2001)

Work on Biodiversity of bees in Israel and threats to pollinating communities from fire, grazing and non-native introduced bees (more details below).

3. NERC: (£16.5K, 1998-2001)

Work in East Africa and in Mexico on Acacia pollination systems and small scale (diurnal) resource partitioning; with Dr G Stone, Edinburgh.

4. British Council: (£5K approx, 1993-1998)

An ongoing scheme, at least 5 years, with funding as requested each year. Joint with University of Nottingham and University of Suez Canal. Six visits in each direction each year, plus longer visits to the UK by Egyptian scientists to learn new techniques.

5. Royal Society: (£10K).

An ongoing project involving studies on bees and wasps at different sites of varying latitude within Britain. The aim is to analyse morphological and colour clines within species that relate to observed differences in thermal biology, and may thus in their turn influence behavioural patterns. Physiological influences on foraging and reproductive strategies are of particular interest.

6. Royal Geographical Society, 1996

Funded visit to Mkomazi, Tanzania, research on Acacia diversity and pollination.

7. AFRC: (£83K, 3 years, 1990-93).

In collaboration with the Scottish Crop Research Institute.

This work involved the application of environmental physiology to understanding (and potentially manipulating) the distributions and interactions of insects on crops. I worked with raspberry crops, analysing water balance and temperature balance of pests (aphids, beetles and moths), of predatory and parasitic insects that might help to control them (coccinellids, hover-flies, and aphidophagous parasitoids), and of pollinating bees and flies. These studies established their different physiological constraints, and could be related to conditions within the crop and hence to insect distributions and movements. The aim was to find ways of manipulating plant architecture and thus microclimate in ways that favoured the beneficial insects at the expense of the crop pests. One particular treatment proved efficacious and can be recommended for further testing and then to growers. Two papers published, one in press, three in prep, and at least three more planned.

8. AFRC: (£18K, 7 months, 1994).

An extension to the above programme to allow an extra summer of fieldwork, following up new angles on plant chemicals and insect pheromones.


9. Royal Society: (£3K, 1992).

Funding for a research visit to the Sinai in Egypt, for 3 weeks, resulting in three papers.


Research group:

Dr. Simon G. Potts (NERC Post Doctoral appointment)

Threats to pollinator biodiversity and community level pollination effectiveness. The effects of wildfires, habitat fragmentation, changing land-use patterns and introduction of non-native pollinators on pollinator community structure and agricultural and wild plant reproduction.

Assessment and conservation of habitat requirements for pollinating invertebrates.

Research students:

Ms. Sabine Bressin (ecophysiology of Eristalis hover flies)

Ms. Emma Napper (interactions of ants and flowers)

Ms. Betsy Vulliamy (biodiversity of bees in Israel)

Funded Collaborations:

University of Suez Canal, Egypt, with University of Nottingham;

Tanzanian National Parks, with Dr Graham Stone, University of Edinburgh;

Mpala Research Station, Kenya, as above;

University of Haifa, Dr Amots Dafni;

University of Oxford Museum, Chris O'Toole;

Scottish Crop Research Institute.




King, C , Ballantyne, GA & Willmer, PG 2013, ' Why flower visitation is a poor proxy for pollination: measuring single-visit pollen deposition, with implications for pollination networks and conservation ' Methods in Ecology and Evolution , vol 4, no. 9, pp. 811-818.
Ballantyne, GA & Willmer, PG 2012, ' Nectar theft and floral ant-repellence: A link between nectar volume and ant-repellent traits? ' PLoS One , vol 7, no. 8, e43869.
Ballantyne, GA & Willmer, PG 2012, ' Floral visitors and ant scent marks: noticed but not used? ' Ecological Entomology , vol 37, no. 5, pp. 402-409.
Willmer, PG , Nuttman, CV , Raine, NE, Stone, GN, Pattrick, JG, Henson, K, Stillman, P, McIlroy, L, Potts, SG & Knudsen, JT 2009, ' Floral volatiles controlling ant behaviour ' Functional Ecology , vol 23, no. 5, pp. 888-900.
Willmer, PG , Stanley, DA, Steijven, K , Matthews, IM & Nuttman, CV 2009, ' Bidirectional Flower Color and Shape Changes Allow a Second Opportunity for Pollination ' Current Biology , vol 19, no. 11, pp. 919-923.
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