Emeritus Professor of Ecology
Professorial Fellow of New College
I am interested in understanding the factors that determine change in speciesí abundance, distributions and specializations. Most of my research involves studying the population, community, functional or evolutionary ecology of insects, and much was inspired by questions arising from conservation problems. The latter, in turn, have provided the opportunity to test hypotheses and predictions through large-scale, long-term field experiments, such as the restoration of endangered Maculinea (Large blue butterfly) species and associated communities to sites and landscapes across Europe. Current research themes include: (1) Describing global to local patterns of change in insect diversity, abundance & distributions. (2) The interactions and ecology of butterflies, foodplants, parasitoids and ants. (3) The evolutionary biology of myrmecophiles (insect mutualists, commensals and social parasites that interact with ants). (4) The application of research results to nature conservation, including predicting and mitigating the impacts of climate change.
I am currently President of the Royal Entomological Society, a Visiting Professor at the University of Reading, and a Professorial Fellow of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (NERC).
- Chapman, JW, Bell, JR, Burgin, LE, Reynolds, DR, Petterson, LB, Hill, JK, Bonsall, MB, Thomas, JA (2012) Seasonal migration to high latitudes results in major reproductive benefits in an insect. PNAS 109, 14924-29
Thomas, CD, Gillingham, PK, … Thomas, JA et al (2012) Protected areas facilitate species’ range expansions. PNAS 109, 14065-68
Hovestadt, T, Thomas, JA, Mitesser, O, Elmes, GW, Schonrogge, K (2012) Unexpected benefit of a social parasite for a key fitness component of its ant host. The American Naturalist 179, 110-123
- Oliver, T.H, Roy, D.B, Brereton, T, Thomas, JA (2012) Reduced variability in range-edge butterfly populations over three decades of climate warming. Global Change Biology 18, 1531-1539
Thomas, JA, Simcox, DJ, Clarke, RT (2009) Successful Conservation of a Threatened Maculinea Butterfly. Science 325, 80-83.
Barbero, F, Thomas, JA ,Bonelli, S, Balletto, E, Schönrogge, K (2009) Queen ants make distinctive sounds that are mimicked by a butterfly social parasite. Science 323, 782-785.
Schönrogge, K, Gardner, M. G., Elmes, G. W., Napper, E. K.V., Simcox, D. J. Wardlaw, J. C., Breen, J. Barr, B. Knapp, J. J., Pickett, J. A., Thomas J. A. (2006) Host propagation permits extreme local adaptation in a social parasite of ants. Ecology Letters 9, 1032-1040
- Thomas, J. A. (2005) Monitoring change in the abundance and distribution of insects using butterflies and other indicator groups. Phil Trans R Soc B 360, 339-357
Thomas, J. A., et al. (2004) Comparative losses of British butterflies, birds and plants and the global extinction crisis. Science 303: 1879-1881
Thomas, J.A., et al. (2002) Parasitoid secretions provoke ant warfare. Nature 417: 505-506