International Women’s Day 2023

It’s International Women’s Day and once again we look back over the blogs from the last year, and highlight five of our favourites written by women. At the same time, we also wanted to highlight the diversity of studies published in Journal of Animal Ecology. Celebrate women in science, and the awesome work they’ve done by checking out our favourites below, as well as a brief profile provided by each of the authors and links to find more of their work.
Taylor Ganz

Taylor’s blog post To understand how mule deer use fire-impacted areas, consider the season and account for their predator was one of our favourites this year. Taylor clearly explains how they studied how mule deer are navigating increasing burns from wildfires while continuing to evade predators by GPS-collaring 150 female deer along with cougars and wolves.

Taylor Ganz, Ph.D., is a research analyst at the University of Washington, where she studies carnivore-ungulate interactions and how they are shaped by large-scale landscape changes such as timber harvest and wildfire. She is generally interested in predator-prey dynamics and understanding how humans shape ecosystems, particularly as relevant to conservation in the American West. Outside of her life as a scientist she enjoys spending time outdoors, especially trail running and skiing.

Mélanie Thierry

Mélanie’s blog post Multiple parasitoid species enhance top-down control, but parasitoid performance is context-dependent brings our attention to the small things that we often overlook – except when seeking inspiration for science fiction and horror movies. Meet the parasitoids.

I was born and raised in the South of France. In my research, I integrate community ecology, thermal biology and evolution to investigate effects of environmental changes on individuals, populations and metacommunities. My PhD brought me to the University of South Bohemia in Czech Republic and in the tropical forests of Australia to disentangle the mechanisms structuring Drosophila host-parasitoid communities under warming scenarios. I am now back in my country as a postdoctoral researcher at the Theoretical and Experimental Ecology Station of CNRS in the French Pyrenees. There, I study phenotypic and dispersal plasticity from the perspective of community ecology. Twitter handle: @MelJThierry. Website:

Isobel Ollard

Isobel’s blog post Historical data show serious threats facing freshwater mussels in major UK river follows in the footsteps of another female scientist, repeating a study carried out in 1963-1964 to explore dramatic changes in freshwater mussel populations in the river Thames.

Isobel is a PhD student in Zoology at the University of Cambridge, studying aquatic ecology. In particular, she focuses on using various types of historical data to build an understanding of how freshwater mussel populations have changed and are changing over time, and the impacts this could have on lakes and rivers through mussels’ role as ecosystem engineers. Isobel was drawn to studying aquatic ecology due to her love of kayaking, and loves the alternative perspective this brings to freshwater ecosystems.

On being a woman in science: During the course of the research featured in this post, Isobel was able to contact Christina Negus, the author of the 1964 study her work builds on. She found it inspiring to discuss Christina’s work and her experiences as a researcher at a time when scientific careers for women often looked very different than they do today, and she gratefully acknowledges Christina and all the other talented and tenacious women scientists who paved the way for us.

Sara Emery

Sara’s blog post Cold winters drive 8-year population cycles for a beetle pest in agriculture sheds light on the boom and bust population cycles of the cabbage stem flea beetle, an agricultural pest species and how this is driven by cold winters.

My research focuses on the intersection of the environmental and climatic factors affecting the phenology of individual species, conservation biological control and community ecology. My goals are to understand the influence of global climate and land-use change using field work and long-term historic data sets to identify drivers of population variability and community resilience. As a woman who does science it took me far too long to see myself as a scientist. Integrating my intersectional identities with my scientific identity, rather than apart from it, helped me realize that science benefits from having many perspectives as we seek to understand the complexity of our natural world.  

Aoife Cantwell-Jones

Aoife’s blog post Bee declines: what’s the stress all about? highlights the importance of museum collections and show how bumblebee wings have become increasingly asymmetrical since 1925, a condition thought to be caused by stressful conditions during development.

Aoife (she/her) is a PhD researcher at Imperial College London. Her PhD focuses on better understanding how bumblebees interact with plants, and how these interactions could be jeopardised by climate change. Amazingly, most of her current research is done by hiking up and observing bumblebees on a mountain in Arctic Sweden, working alongside a team of incredible master’s students and interns. Before her PhD, Aoife did her undergraduate and master’s at Imperial, through which she joined a project that used museum specimens to track signatures of “stress” in British bumblebees over the 20th century. Aoife has also had the opportunity to work alongside scientists at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (researching how plant diversity can improve food security); the University of Vienna, Austria (looking at how climate change affects plant roots); and James Cook University, Australia (studying what insects can tell us about historic climates). After her PhD, she hopes to continue in academia, continuing to study insect pollinators and their interactions with plants, to ensure they can be effectively conserved in the face of global change. Aoife has been inspired by many amazing female scientists and teachers, and challenges Biology to do even better to improve inclusivity across traditionally less diverse domains, like fieldwork.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s