The Harlequin Ladybird Survey
Harlequin ladybird elytra
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Dr Peter Brown


Research Fellow


Anglia Ruskin University

Ladybird research keywords

Population ecology, community ecology, biological recording, intraguild interactions, Harmonia axyridis, non-native species, public engagement.

Description of work

I jointly co-ordinate the UK Ladybird Survey and recently co-wrote a book - 'Ladybirds (Coccinellidae) of Britain and Ireland' - with Helen Roy, Robert Frost and Remy Poland. My research focuses on understanding the invasion process of the harlequin ladybird, Harmonia axyridis. I study the spread and distribution of this species (in Britain and worldwide) and its impacts on native ladybirds, using data collected through the UK Ladybird Survey and field studies. In addition, I am involved in genetic work to detect predation of ladybirds and other prey by the harlequin. This is done by means of PCR analyses of ladybird gut contents.

Volunteer engagement, principally through public outreach, has been critical to the success of the harlequin ladybird project. Over 40,000 harlequin ladybird records (many of multiple individuals) have been logged since the survey was launched in March 2005. The harlequin ladybird has benefited from considerable attention but is only one of the many invasive non-native species that threaten native biodiversity. Using the UK Ladybird Survey as a model system, I worked on development of the Recording Invasive Species Counts (RISC) project. This project informs the public on a range of invasive non-native animals and plants, and encourages the recording of them.

Key publications

Aebi, A., Brown, P.M.J., De Clercq, P., Hautier, L., Howe, A., Ingels, B., Ravn, H.P., Sloggett, J.J., Zindel, R. and Thomas, A. (in press) Detecting arthropod intraguild predation in the field. BioControl.

Brown, P.M.J., Thomas, C., Lombaert, E., Jeffries, D.L., Estoup, A. and Lawson Handley, L.J. (in press) The global spread of Harmonia axyridis: distribution, dispersal and routes of invasion. BioControl.

Brown, P.M.J., Frost, R., Doberski, J., Sparks, T., Harrington, R. and Roy, H.E. (2011) Decline in native ladybirds in response to the arrival of Harmonia axyridis: early evidence from England. Ecological Entomology 36: 231-240.

Brown, P.M.J., Poland, R.L. and Roy, H.E. (2011) Wildlife reports: Ladybirds. British Wildlife 22(3): 208-209.

Brown, P.M.J., Roy, H.E., Rothery, P., Roy, D.B., Ware, R.L. & Majerus, M.E.N. (2008) Harmonia axyridis in Great Britain: analysis of the spread and distribution of a non-native coccinellid. BioControl 53: 55-68.

Brown, P.M.J., Adriaens, T., Bathon, H., Cuppen, J., Goldarazena, A., Hagg, T., Kenis, M., Klausnitzer, B.E.M., Kovar, I., Loomans, A.J., Majerus, M.E.N., Nedved, O., Pedersen, J. Rabitsch, W., Roy, H.E., Ternois, V., Zakharov, I. & Roy, D.B. (2008) Harmonia axyridis in Europe: spread and distribution of a non-native coccinellid. BioControl 53: 5-22.

Roy, H.E., Brown, P.M.J., Rothery, P., Ware, R.L. & Majerus, M.E.N. (2008) Interactions between the fungal pathogen Beauveria bassiana and three species of ladybird: Harmonia axyridis, Coccinella septempunctata and Adalia bipunctata. BioControl 53: 265-276.

Roy, H.E., Brown, P.M.J., Frost, R. and Poland, R.L. (2011) Ladybirds (Coccinellidae) of Britain and Ireland. Field Studies Council, Shrewsbury.

22-spot ladybird

Pete's favourite ladybird is the 22-spot ladybird
(photo: Ken Dolbear)