University of Reading cookie policy

We use cookies on to improve your experience, monitor site performance and tailor content to you.

Read our cookie policy to find out how to manage your cookie settings.

Dr Elise Rocha

Doctoral Researcher

I have a BSc in Biological Sciences and MSc in Ecology from Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul. My previous work as an undergraduate student was focused on the evaluation of stability and persistence of a fish community in a coastal lagoon, southern Brazil. As a master's degree student, my research was about the ecology of a fish metacommunity on coastal lagoons, trying to understand the assembly of species communities along a landscape gradient using traits and functional indices. During an ecology field course in Brazil, I got amazed of how easily insects can be sampled and the great amount of ecological questions they could answer, and decided to change the centre of attention of my academic career to them. Now I am currently a PhD student in Biological Sciences at the University of Reading and my research project is focused on urban ecology of insects.

Research Project - Urban ecology of insects

Urbanization brings about a drastic form of land conversion typified by dense human habitation, industry, transportation and associated infrastructure. The properties of urban environments that can modify the way species interact include changes in bottom-up factors like host quality and accessibility, natural enemy abundance and diversity (top-down factors), changes in microhabitats including creation of heat islands, and land matrixes that can disrupt movement and colonization of herbivores and natural enemies. To know how biodiversity will respond to these trends is extremely important and could provide guidance for future conservation planning. In this project, we will try to answer how urbanization influences the dynamics and interactions of a tritrophic model: a host plant, an aphid species, and its communities of natural enemies (parasitoids and hyperparasitoids), trying to look if urbanization effects can affect the phenology of ecological interactions at a population level.


Rocha, E. A. and Fellowes, M. D. E. (2018) Does urbanization explain differences in interactions between an insect herbivore and its natural enemies and mutualists?Urban Ecosystems, 21 (3). pp. 405-417. ISSN 1083-8155 doi:

Rocha, E. A., Souza, E. N. F., Bleakley, L. A. D., Burley, C., Mott, J. L., Rue-Glutting, G.and Fellowes, M. D. E. (2018) Influence of urbanisation and garden plants on the diversity and abundance of aphids and their ladybird and hoverfly predators.European Journal of Entomology, 115. pp. 140-149. ISSN 1210-5759 doi:

Interested in garden birds?
Check out the details of our Urban Bird Conservation project to find out how you can take part.