Margaret Couvillon

Assistant Professor

  • Pollinator Biology and Ecology
  • Behavioral Ecology

The ongoing pollinator crisis exemplifies how public interest in scientific issues can be a mixed blessing, simultaneously raising awareness of important issues while also generating rallying cries for untested solutions. For example, lack of forage is considered a factor contributing to bee declines. This stressor can act directly, where hungry bees are unable to meet their nutritional needs, or indirectly, where the resulting nutritional stress reduces the bees’ ability to cope with other stressors, such as diseases and pesticides. Media coverage has been wide, and as a consequence, everyone wants to feed hungry bees by planting bee-friendly flowers indiscriminately. Such help is offered with best intentions, but efficacy is undermined because we do not fully understand how bees are foraging in the existing landscape.

The Couvillon Lab investigates the dynamics of how pollinators collect their food, with a specific focus on honey bee foraging, recruitment, and health. More broadly, we are interested in the behavioral ecology of social insects, in particular the adaptations that have contributed to their success as organisms. 

For more details about my research and the Couvillon lab, please visit www.freelyflyingbees.com

Postdoctoral Fellow in Research, Laboratory of Apiculture and Social Insects, University of Sussex, Brighton, England, 2009-2014

Postdoctoral Fellow in Research and Teaching, University of Arizona, Tucson, 2007-2009

Ph.D. in Behavioral Ecology of Honey bees and Stingless bees, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, England, 2007

M.S. in Neurobiology, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, 2004

B.S. in Biology, Loyola University New Orleans, Louisiana, 2000

Selected Professional Experience:

2015-2016: Scientific Advisor, European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), Parma, Italy

2011 – Present: Columnist, The Beekeepers Quarterly

2014 – Present: Associate Editor, Insectes Sociaux, journal of International Union for the Study of Social Insects (IUSSI)

Applied and basic questions in honey bee foraging ecology and pollinator health. For more information, see www.freelyflyingbees.com

COMING FALL 2020: Entomology 2804: Bees: Biology, Diversity, and Sustainability

I am developer and lead instructor for this course, which will serve as a foundational introduction to bees. We will begin with behavior, communication, and social organization of honey bees, then cover diversity and use of alternative (non honey bee) pollinators and scientific inquiry in ecosystem services management, and conclude with a section on current global challenges to and sustainable solutions for pollination in the modern-day agricultural landscape. (3H,3C)

This course is part of Virginia Tech's Pathways to General Education Curriculum, which is required for all undergraduates. It will count towards "Reasoning in the Natural Sciences".  

Entomology 5004: Graduate seminar course
I am lead instructor for this course. The goal is to develop graduate students into critical and constructive peer reviewers. This will be accomplished through two specific course goals. (1) To allow graduate students to select from the array of research seminar offerings in the sciences on the Blacksburg campus and at conferences, with priority given to the Entomology seminar series. (2) To allow graduate students to develop relevant skills as research evaluators, particularly for peer reviewing. Graduate students are expected to attend weekly seminar and then to our seminar meeting the next morning.

Entomology 2254: Bees and Beekeeping
I contribute to this course, which is taught by Dr. James Wilson. This course is designed to provide students with (1) a knowledge of honey bee biology, (2) an understanding of modern beekeeping practices and management techniques, and (3) a knowledge of the importance of the honey bee to modern agriculture and its use for crop pollination. I contribute 2 lectures on honey bee foraging and recruitment behaviors and 1 on sublethal impacts of pesticides on honey bee foraging behavior.

 

For an updated list of publications from the Couvillon lab, please see the lab's website.

Couvillon

302 Price Hall

540-231-5707

mjc@vt.edu