Dr Thomas Ings

Deputy Head of School
Faculty of Science and Engineering
Life Sciences
Areas of Expertise:
Animal and environmental biology
Research Supervision:

Thomas is an ecologist/behavioural ecologist whose research interests include invertebrate community ecology, conservation, pollinator behaviour, and insect learning. One of his key aims is to develop an understanding of how community structure is influenced by individual traits, including behaviour.

[email protected]
Visit Thomas' website


Thomas is an Associate Professor in Zoology. He joined ARU as a Senior Lecturer in Zoology in 2012 after completing a fellowship (2009-2012), postdoctoral research position (2006-2009) and PhD (2003-2006) at Queen Mary University of London. Prior to that Thomas worked as a Scientific Officer at CABI Bioscience in Egham.

Since joining ARU Thomas has supported teaching and research in his roles as Course Leader (MSc Animal Behaviour: Applications for Conservation), Director of Research for the former Department of Life Sciences/Biology and is now a Deputy Head of the School of Life Sciences.

Over the last few years Thomas has been conducting research on plant-pollinator networks, pollinator responses to global change, solitary bee nesting ecology (with his PhD student), the influence of predation risk on prey behaviour, and the impacts of anthropogenic noise on insect communication (with his PhD student).

Research interests
  • Mutualistic networks: currently using an individual trait-based approach to understand the mechanisms that determine the structure of plant-flower visitor interaction networks
  • Pollinator behavioural plasticity: an ongoing project investigating the causes and consequence of a major shift in life history in the bumblebee Bombus terrestris, which now has a winter generation in southern parts of the UK
  • Insect learning: projects have addressed questions such as how foraging bumblebees learn to avoid predators whilst visiting flowers
  • Urban ecology: how pollinators and other invertebrates respond to management of urban green spaces
  • Invertebrate conservation: how land management in both rural and urban settings affects invertebrate diversity

Thomas is a member of both our Applied Ecology Research Group and Behavioural Ecology Research Group.

Areas of research supervision

Thomas welcomes enquiries from motivated graduates and postgraduates with an interest in writing research proposals with him. Areas of research supervision include:

  • pollinator behaviour
  • predator avoidance behaviour
  • animal learning, especially in insects
  • mutualistic networks
  • invertebrate community ecology
  • invertebrate conservation (especially pollinators)
  • global change ecology
Current PhD students

2022 - Amy Wright, Applied Ecology Research Group, School of Life Sciences, Anglia Ruskin University (Co-supervisor with Dr Dannielle Green and Dr Bas Boots) - An Investigation into the mechanistic impacts of conventional and alternative plastics on soil biota and crop production.

2021 - Jennifer Ramsay, Applied Ecology Research Group, School of Life Sciences, Anglia Ruskin University (Co-supervisor with Dr Helen Wheeler & Chris Sandom [University of Sussex]) - Large herbivores and climate: the influence of naturalistic grazing and browsing on climate feedback effects.

2020 - Eferhire Akarator, Applied Ecology Research Group, School of Life Sciences, Anglia Ruskin University (Co-supervisor with Dr Dannielle Green and Dr Bas Boots) - Organic amendments as an approach to mitigate microplastic contaminated soil.

Completed PhD students

2016 – 2020 Stephanie Maher, Applied Ecology Research Group, School of Life Sciences, Anglia Ruskin University (1st supervisor with Dr Fabrizio Manco) - The nesting ecology of fossorial solitary bees. Completed and now a Research Officer at Teagasc – the Agriculture and Food Development Authority (Ireland).

2016 – 2020 Adam Bent, Behavioural Ecology Research Group, School of Life Sciences, Anglia Ruskin University (2nd supervisor with Dr Sophie Mowles) - Consequences of anthropogenic noise when conflicting with sexually selected acoustic signals. Completed.

2014 – 2017 John Pilgrim (PhD by publication), Animal and Environment Research Group, former Department of Life Sciences, Anglia Ruskin University (Co-supervisor with Dr Nancy Harrison) - Biodiversity management: application of biodiversity data to inform conservation and industry practice.


MSc Animal Behaviour Applications for Conservation (Course Leader 2015-2019)

MSc Applied Wildlife Conservation

BSc (Hons) Animal Behaviour

BSc (Hons) Ecology and Conservation

BSc (Hons) Zoology

  • PhD Behavioural Ecology, Queen Mary, University of London
  • MRes Ecology and Environmental Management, University of York
  • PgCert Academic Practice, Queen Mary, University of London
  • BSc (Hons) Biological Science, University of Exeter
Memberships, editorial boards

Editorial Board of Journal of Pollination Ecology (since 2013)
Associate Editor for Ecological Entomology (since 2013-2021)
Associate Editor for Journal of Animal Ecology (2008-2017)
Member of the British Ecological Society Review College (since 2013)
Fellow, Royal Entomological Society (since 2008)
Fellow, Higher Education Academy (since 2011)
Member, British Ecological Society
Member, Bees, Wasp & Ants Recording Society

Selected recent publications

Ramsay, J. Sandon, C., Ings, T.C. & Wheeler, H.C. (2022) What evidence exists on the impacts of large herbivores on climate change? A Systematic Map Protocol. Environmental Evidence, 11, Article number: 14. doi.org/10.1186/s13750-022-00270-2

Bent A.M, Ings T.C. & Mowles SL (2021). Does anthropogenic noise affect the acoustic courtship interactions of Gryllus bimaculatus? Animal Behaviour, 174:9-19. doi.org/10.1016/j.anbehav.2021.01.013

Bent, A., Ings, T.C. & Mowles, S.L., (2021). Anthropogenic noise disrupts mate choice behaviors in female Gryllus bimaculatus. Behavioral Ecology, 32(2):201-210 doi.org/10.1093/beheco/araa124

Hart, A., Maebe, K., Brown, G., Smagghe, G., Ings, T. C. (2021) Winter activity unrelated to introgression in British bumblebee Bombus terrestris audax. Apidologie, 52:315-327 doi.org/10.1007/s13592-020-00822-w

Ings T. C, Arnold S.E. 2020., Editorial overview: Pollinator ecology in the Anthropocene. Current Opinion in Insect Science, 38: iii-iv. doi.org/10.1016/j.cois.2020.05.001

Maher, S., Manco, F. & Ings, T.C. 2019., Using citizen science to examine the nesting ecology of ground‐nesting bees. Ecosphere, 10: e02911. doi.org/10.1002/ecs2.2911

Bent, A., Ings, T.C. & Mowles, S.L., 2018. Anthropogenic noise disrupts mate searching in Gryllus bimaculatus. Behavioral Ecology, 29: 1271–1277. doi.org/10.1093/beheco/ary126

Rumeu, B., Sheath, D., Hawes, J.E. & Ings, T.C., 2018. Zooming into plant-flower visitor networks: an individual trait-based approach. PeerJ, 6: e5618. doi.org/10.7717/peerj.5618

Wang, M-Y, Chittka, L. & Ings, T.C., 2018. Bumblebees express consistent, but flexible, speed-accuracy tactics under different levels of predation threat. Frontiers in Psychology, 9: 1601. doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01601

Ings TC. and Hawes J.E., 2018. The History of Ecological Networks. In: Dáttilo W. and Rico-Gray V. eds. Ecological Networks in the Tropics. Cham: Springer International Publishing, pp.15–28. doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-68228-0_2

Lihoreau, M., Ings, T.C., Chittka, L. and Reynolds, A.M., 2016. Signatures of a globally optimal searching strategy in the three-dimensional foraging flights of bumblebees. Scientific Reports, 6, pp.30401. doi.org/0.1038/srep30401 

Wang, Mu-Yun, Ings, T.C., Proulx, M.J. and Chittka, L., 2013. Can bees simultaneously engage in adaptive foraging behaviour and attend to cryptic predators? Animal Behaviour, 86, pp.859-866. doi.org/10.1016/j.anbehav.2013.07.029

Lenz, F., Ings, T.C., Chittka, L., Chechkin, A.V. and Klages, R., 2012. Spatio-temporal dynamics of bumblebees foraging under predation risk. Physical Review Letters, 108.

Ings, T.C., Wang, M-Y. and Chittka, L., 2012. Colour-independent shape recognition of cryptic predators by bumblebees. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 66, pp.487-496. doi: 10.1007/s00265-011-1295-y.

Woodward, G., Benstead, J.P., Beveridge, O.S., Blanchard, J., Brey, T., Brown, L, Cross, W.F., Friberg, N., Ings, T.C., Jacob, U., Jennings, S., Ledger, M.E., Milner, A.M., Montoya, J.M., Pichler, D.E, O'Gorman, O., Petchey, O.L., Olesen, J.M., Reuman, D.C., Thompson, M.S., Van Veen, F.J.F. and Yvon-Durocher, G., 2010. Ecological networks in a changing climate. Advances in Ecological Research, 42, pp.71-138.  doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-381363-3.00002-2.

Olesen, J.M., Dupont, Y.L., O'Gorman, E., Ings, T.C., Layer, K., Melián, C.J., Troejelsgaard, K., Pichler, D., Rasmussen, K. and Woodward, G., 2010. From Broadstone to Zackenberg: Space, time and hierarchies in ecological networks. Advances in Ecological Research, 42, pp.1-69. doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-381363-3.00001-0.

Ings, T.C., Ings, N.L., Chittka, L. and Rasmont, P., 2010. A failed invasion? Commercially introduced pollinators in Southern France. Apidologie, 41, pp.1-13. doi:10.1051/apido/2009044.

Ings, T.C., Raine, N.E. and Chittka, L., 2009. A population comparison of the strength and persistence of innate colour preference and learning speed in the bumblebee Bombus terrestris. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 68, pp.1207-1218. doi:10.1007/s00265-009-0731-8.

Ings, T.C. and Chittka, L., 2009. Predator crypsis enhances behaviourally-mediated indirect effects on plants by altering bumblebee foraging preferences. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 276, pp.2031-2036. doi:10.1098/rspb.2008.1748.

Lopez-Vaamonde, C., Raine, N.E., Koning, J.W., Brown, R.M., Pereboom, J.J.M., Ings, T.C., Ramos-Rodriguez, O., Jordan, W.C. and Bourke, A.F.G., 2009. Lifetime reproductive success and longevity of queens in an annual social insect. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 22, pp.983-996. doi:10.1111/j.1420-9101.2009.01706.x.

Ings,T.C., Montoya, J.M., Bascompte, J., Bluthgen, N., Brown, L., Dormann, C.F., Edwards, F., Figueroa, D., Jacob, U., Jones, J.I., Lauridsen, R.B., Ledger, M.E., Lewis, H.M., Olesen, J.M., Van Veen, F.J.F., Warren, P.H. and Woodward, G., 2009. Ecological networks - beyond food webs. Journal of Animal Ecology, 78, pp.253-269. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2656.2008.01460.x.

Ings,T.C. and Chittka, L., 2008. Speed accuracy tradeoffs and false alarms in bee responses to cryptic predators. Current Biology, 18, pp.1520-1524. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2008.07.074.

Ings, T.C., 2007. Body size affects nectar uptake rates in Bombus terrestris (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Entomologia Generalis, 30, pp.186.

Ings, T.C., Ward, N.L. and Chittka, L., 2006. Can commercially imported bumble bees out-compete their native conspecifics? Journal of Applied Ecology, 43, pp.940-948. doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2664.2006.01199.x

Raine, N.E., Ings, T.C., Dornhaus, A., Saleh, N. and Chittka, L., 2006. Adaptation, genetic drift, pleiotropy, and history in the evolution of bee foraging behavior. Advances in the Study of Behavior, 36, pp.305-354.

Raine, N.E., Ings, T.C., Ramos-Rodriguez, O. and Chittka, L., 2006. Intercolony variation in learning performance of a wild British bumblebee population (Hymenoptera: Apidae: Bombus terrestris audax). Entomologia Generalis, 28, pp.241-256.

Atkinson, P.W., Fuller, R.J., Vickery, J.A., Conway, G., Tallowin, J.R.B., Smith, R.E.N., Haysom, K.H., Ings, T.C., Asteraki, E.J. and Brown, V.K., 2005. Influence of agricultural management, sward structure and food resources on grassland field use by birds in lowland England. Journal of Applied Ecology, 42, pp.932-942. doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2664.2005.01070.x

Ings, T.C., Raine, N.E. and Chittka, L., 2005. Mating preference in the commercially imported bumblebee species Bombus terrestris in Britain (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Entomologia Generalis, 28, pp.233-238.

Ings, T.C., Schikora, J. and Chittka, L., 2005. Bumblebees, humble pollinators or assiduous invaders? A population comparison of foraging performance in Bombus terrestris. Oecologia, 144, pp.508-516. doi.org/10.1007/s00442-005-0081-9

Rasmont, P., Regali, A., Ings, T.C., Lognay, G., Baudart, E., Marlier, M., Delcarte, E., Viville, P., Marot, C., Falmagne, P., Verhaeghe, J.C. and Chittka, L., 2005. Analysis of pollen and nectar of Arbutus unedo as a food source for Bombus terrestris (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Journal of Economic Entomology, 98, pp.656-663.

Asteraki, E.J., Hart, B.J., Ings, T.C. and Manley, W.J., 2004. Factors influencing the plant and invertebrate diversity of arable field margins. Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment, 102, pp.219-231. doi.org/10.1016/j.agee.2003.07.003

Chittka, L., Ings, T.C. and Raine, N.E., 2004. Chance and adaptation in the evolution of island bumblebee behaviour. Population Ecology, 46, pp.243-251. doi.org/10.1007/s10144-004-0180-1

Ings, T.C. and Hartley, S.E., 1999. The effect of habitat structure on carabid communities during the regeneration of a native Scottish forest. Forest Ecology and Management, 119, pp.123-136. doi.org/10.1016/S0378-1127(98)00517-9