European Earwig in the Falklands: How Big is the Threat?

Funding bodies: Environmental Studies Budget through Falkland Islands Government, Seafish (Falklands) limited,  Shackleton Scholarship Fund and University of Aberdeen 
PhD affiliations: Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute , SAERI, Queen's University Belfast and University of Aberdeen 

Project overview

First detected in the Falkland Islands (FI) in the 1990s, F. auricularia can now be found in large numbers in both the urban and wild environment. Earwigs are considered pests causing damage to garden horticulture, and regarded as a public nuisance, however the ecological impacts of this invasion have not been investigated. Considering its generalist feeding strategy and ability to occupy multiple ecological niches, which can negatively impact rare or sensitive native species, F. auricularia has the potential to significantly impact recipient communities and affect ecosystem functioning. This has resulted in F. auricularia becoming a species of concern for the Falkland Islands Government.

This study on the European earwig invasion in the Falkland Islands, made possible through the active participation of Falkland Islands residents, will assess the ecological impacts of this invasive species.

By investigating the threats to biodiversity, this research aims to enable policymakers, conservationists, and the public alike to prioritise effective measures that safeguard the Falkland Islands' natural heritage for future generations. We hope the findings will underscores the importance of proactive management strategies and community engagement in combating terrestrial island invasions.

Project Objectives

  • Investigate the extent, spread, and population dynamics of F. auricularia in the Falkland Islands.
  • Explore the invasion history of F. auricularia using molecular genomic methods.
  • Capture local public perceptions, knowledge, and opinions on F. auricularia invasion, control measures, and invasive species threats in general.
  • Investigate trophic relationships between F. auricularia and native fauna of the Falkland Islands
  • Assess the degree of success of previous bio-control efforts and provide recommendations for future control and management of F. auricularia.
  • Consider the possible threat of further southward expansion of F. auricularia to South Georgia and beyond.
  • Contribute to the biological inventory of soil invertebrate communities in the Falkland Islands.

STEPHEN GILLANDERS

Lead & Co Supervisors: John Baird, Colin McClure, Archie Murchie, Paul Brickle, Juliano Morimoto

Dates: 2023-2026
Stephen has worked for 10 years in conservation and has a background in invasion biology and restoration ecology. Stephen has been fortunate to have worked in many habitats and ecosystems around the world from the tropics (Brazil, Seychelles) to temperate regions (China, Portugal). Primarily a field ecologist with experience managing many conservation projects and restoration efforts, Stephen has worked in Environmental Policy and Planning for the past year before starting his PhD in 2023. He was attracted to this project in particular because of his love of fieldwork and working with invasive species, but also the opportunity to learn new techniques such as conservation genetics and community analysis.
Stephen’s is interested in understanding contemporary environmental problems framed with the perspective of our rapidly changing climatic and social value systems. He values the importance of considering cultural and socio-economic factors when addressing ecological issues and incorporating them into future-proof solutions. His passion for artistic and community engagement in environmental topics often offers unique opportunities for outreach and communication.
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