I am studying the effect of neonicotinoid pesticides on the mating behaviour, development, and migration of Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) in the Norris Lab. Specifically, I am investigating whether the concentration of pesticide and the timing of exposure influence male butterfly mating behaviour, the deposition of eggs by female butterflies, larval development, and the pattern of movements during late summer/fall migration when Monarch butterflies begin migration from Ontario to the Oyamel fir forest in Mexico.
For my MSc, under the supervision of Dr. Craig Willis, I examined captive and in-field conservation practices that could be to help enhance survival of little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus) affected by white-nose syndrome (WNS). WNS, a disease caused by the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans, has caused the rapid decline of hibernating bats across the northeastern United States and Canada. I determined if behavioral tendencies (e.g., activity level, grooming) affect feeding behaviour in captivity and if bats attempt to reduce energy expenditure by use of artificially-heated bat houses. I found that behavioural tendencies could affect feeding behaviour, potentially leading to a dominance hierarchy, and that bats could reduce their energetic cost of roosting during cold spring weather by up to 71.5% by selecting heated roosts. Also, for my undergraduate thesis I examined behavioural changes in bats affected by WNS and found that bats did not change grooming behaviour or drink more frequently in contrast to leading hypotheses about the disease. Further, I found that infection increased restlessness and reduced coloniality, potentially reflecting attempts to reduce exposure to infected conspecifics.