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Nigel’s research interests include long-term studies on the behaviour of insect populations and their impact on tree health. Current work seeks to understand how changes in forest management might be used to reduce damaged by insect pests, by improving tree resistance to attack and encouraging natural control by parasites and predators.
Another key aspect of Nigel’s work is to provide advice and scientific support for the Forestry Commission’s plant health service, including contingency plans, pest risk analyses and reviews of national tree health policy. He was closely involved with the operational programme to eradicate Asian longhorn beetle from Kent and is currently assisting with the control of oak processionary moth in London.
In 2013, Nigel visited Russia to work with scientists there on the impact and spread of emerald ash borer, a devastating pest of ash, and more recently he was in Canada to discuss options for managing emerald ash borer and other invasive insect pests. Nigel became a fellow in 2020.
Dr Nigel Straw graduated from Imperial College, London, in 1982 and attained a PhD in insect ecology from the University of Cambridge in 1987. He joined Forest Research in 1989 and has worked on a wide range of insect-related projects, focussed particularly on the ways that insects affect tree growth and performance.
On the formation of the Technical Services Unit (TSU) he moved to take on responsibility for the Shobdon field station; from January 2006, was responsible for the field stations at Talybont and Shobdon.
This project will improve our understanding of how oak processionary moth populations behave in different habitats, which is essential for effective management, and it will provide information on parasitoids and predators that may be useful in biological control of the pest.
The project is analysing data on spruce aphid populations from forests managed using different silvicultural systems, to determine whether increasing the structural diversity of forest stands leads to a lower incidence of the pest and a reduction in damage.
This project involves long-term monitoring of horse-chestnut trees to determine the impact of horse-chestnut leaf miner and bleeding canker disease on tree growth and survival.
This project provides a better understanding of the risks posed by Asian longhorn beetle in the UK
Testing the hypothesis that increasing the structural complexity of forest stands will lead to greater biological diversity which will lead to fewer pest problems
Insect pests that cause defoliation or other types of non-lethal injury to forest trees
Impact of spruce pests under changing management
Monitoring, impact and control of oak processionary moth
Straw, N.A., Fielding, N.J., Tilbury, C., Williams, D.T. & Cull, T. 2016. History and development of an isolated outbreak of Asian longhorn beetle Anoplophora glabripennis (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae) in southern England. Agricultural and Forest Entomology 18, 280-293.
Evans, D.M., Kitson, J.J.N., Lunt, D.H., Straw, N.A. & Pocock, M.J.O. 2016. Merging DNA metabarcoding and ecological network analysis to understand and build resilient terrestrial ecosystems. Functional Ecology 30, 1904-1916.
Straw, N.A., Fielding, N.J., Tilbury, C., Williams, D.T. & Inward, D. 2015. Host plant selection and resource utilisation by Asian longhorn beetle Anoplophora glabripennis (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae) in southern England. Forestry 88, 84–95.
Straw, N.A., Tilbury, C., Fielding, N.J., Williams, D.T. & Cull, T. 2015. Timing and duration of the life-cycle of Asian longhorn beetle Anoplophora glabripennis (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae) in southern England. Agricultural and Forest Entomology 17, 400–411.
Sands, R.J., Kitson, J., Raper, C.M., Jonusas, G. & Straw, N. 2015. Carcelia iliaca (Diptera: Tachinidae), a specific parasitoid of the oak processionary moth (Lepidoptera: Thaumetopoeidae), new to Great Britain. Journal of the British Entomological & Natural History Society 28, 225–228.
D’Costa, L., Simmonds, M.S.J., Straw, N.A., Castagneyrol, B. & Koricheva, J. 2014. Leaf traits influencing oviposition preference and larval performance of Cameraria ohridella on native and novel host plants. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata 152, 157–164.
D’Costa, L. Koricheva, J., Straw, N. & Simmonds, M.S.J. 2013. Oviposition patterns and larval damage by the invasive horse-chestnut leaf miner Cameraria ohridella on different species of Aesculus. Ecological Entomology 38, 456–462.
Straw, N.A. & Williams, D.T. 2013. Impact of the leaf miner Cameraria ohridella (Lepidoptera: Gracillariidae) and bleeding canker disease on horse-chestnut: direct effects and interaction. Agricultural and Forest Entomology 15, 321–333.
Straw, N., Williams, D., Kulinich, O. & Gninenko, Y. (2013) Distribution, impact and rate of spread of emerald ash borer Agrilus planipennis (Coleoptera: Buprestidae) in the Moscow region of Russia. Forestry 86, 515–522.
Straw, N., Williams, D.T., Townsend, M., Wilkinson, A.S., Mullins, A. (2013) Monitoring oak processionary moth Thaumetopoea processionea L. using pheromone traps: the influence of pheromone lure source, trap design and height above the ground on capture rates. Agricultural & Forest Entomology 126-134 DOI: 10.1111/afe.2013.15.issue-3/issuetoc
Straw, N.A., Fielding, N., Green, G., Price, J.and Williams, D. (2011). Defoliation and growth relationships for mid-rotation Sitka spruce attacked by the green spruce aphid, Elatobium abietinum (Walker) (Homoptera: Aphididae). Forest Ecology and Management 262, 1223–1235.
Pocock, M., Evans, D., Straw, N.and Polaszek, A. (2011). The horse chestnut leaf miner and its parasitoids. British Wildlife 22, 305-313.
Straw, N.A., Williams, D.T. and Green, G. (2011). Influence of sticky trap colour and height above ground on capture of alate Elatobium abietinum (Hemiptera: Aphididae) in Sitka Spruce plantations. Environmental Entomology 40, 120–125.
Billiald, H.E., Straw, N.A. and Stewart, A.J.A. (2010). Adult fecundity, host plant preferences, field activity and parasitism in the leaf weevil Phyllobius pyri (L.) (Coleoptera: Curculionidae). Bulletin of Entomological Research 100, 303–314.
Tilbury, C., Williams, D., Jukes, M. and Straw, N. (2010). The re-establishment of gypsy moth Lymantria dispar (Linn.) in the UK. Atropos 40, 36–42.
Bertin, S., Perks, M.P., Straw, N., Bertin, J.M. and Mencuccini, M. (2010). Green spruce aphid infestations cause larger growth reductions to Sitka spruce under shade. Tree Physiology 30, 1403–1414.
FC and FR publications
Straw, N., Williams, D. & Tilbury, C. 2013. Monitoring the Oak Processionary Moth with Pheromone Traps. Forestry Commission Practice Note 20. Forestry Commission, Edinburgh.
Harmer, R., Straw, N. & Williams, D. 2011. Boar, bluebells and beetles. Quarterly Journal of Forestry 105, 195–202.
Pocock, M., Evans, D., Straw, N. & Polaszek, A. 2011. The horse chestnut leaf miner and its parasitoids. British Wildlife 22, 305-313.
Tilbury, C., Williams, D., Jukes, M. & Straw, N. 2010. The re-establishment of gypsy moth Lymantria dispar (Linn.) in the UK. Atropos 40, 36–42.
Moore, R., Wilson, E. & Straw. M. (2016) Alternative control treatments for the large pine weevil Hylobius abietis: report on field trials carried out by Forest Research 2009-2015. Report to FC England, FC Scotland and NRW.
Straw, N. (2016) Pheromone trapping to detect and monitor longhorn beetles in the genus Monochamus. Report to FC GB Plant Health.
Weaver, R., Barnet, J., Pocock, M., Straw, N. & Marzano, M. (2015) Improved methods for the early detection of oak processionary moth. Defra Contract TH0101.
Cowan, D., Massei, G., Ward, A., Mayle, B., Gill, R. Trout, R., Harmer, R., Straw, N. et al. (2015) Refining approaches to the surveillance of wild boar presence, abundance and environmental impact for best-practice guidance. Defra Contract WM0318, extension.
Cowan, D., Massei, G., Ward, A., Mayle, B., Gill, R. Trout, R., Harmer, R., Straw, N. et al. (2011) Developing approaches to evaluate and mitigate the environmental impact of wild boar. Defra Contract WM0318.
Evans, H., Peace, A., Straw, N. & Jukes, M. (2009) Trends, long term survival and ecological values of hedgerow trees: development of population models to inform strategy. Defra Contract BD2111.
Scientific conference presentations
Straw, N., Fielding, N. & Williams, D. 2016. Canopy matters: an elevated view of green spruce aphid in plantation forestry. Presented at the 7th International Canopy Conference at Roehampton University, London.
Straw, N., Fielding, N., Tilbury, C. & Williams, D. 2015. Asian longhorn beetle Anoplophora glabripennis in southern England: the 2012 outbreak. Presented at the Invasive Tree Pests Conference at the University of Hull.
Nigel is a regular contributor to FC forest health days, tree health seminars and training events in England, Wales and Scotland.
Other recent presentations include:
Emerald ash borer Agrilus planipennis (Coleoptera, Buprestidae) – Northern Coleopterist’s Meeting in Manchester, September 2016
Can parasitoids and predators provide long-term natural control of OPM? by N Straw, R Sands, J Kitson, D Evans and D Lunt – at an OPM Research Seminar organised by Defra, February 2016.
The effects of spraying with Dipel-DF (Bacillus thuringiensis) on non-target Lepidoptera in Richmond Park by T Freed, N Reeve, G Jonusas and N Straw – on behalf of the Royal Parks at the OPM Research Seminar, February 2016.
Oak processionary moth and horse-chestnut leaf miner – for the Royal Forestry Society, September 2015.
Asian longhorn beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis) in southern England: the 2012 outbreak – at an International Advanced Practitioner Workshop on the Control and Management of Invasive Alien Tree Pests in Toronto, Canada, June 2015.
Landing requirements for ash and birch wood entering the EU: import controls to prevent the introduction of Agrilus planipennis and Agrilus anxius – at the International Advanced Practitioner Workshop in Toronto, Canada, June 2015.
Emerald ash borer and regulations relating to the import of ash wood into the UK – to the London Hardwoods Club and Timber Trades Federation in London, November 2014.
Oak processionary moth: current research on monitoring, control & management – to Butterfly Conservation, Natural England and Buglife at Wareham, Dorset, September 2014.
The impact of wild boar on vegetation & invertebrate biodiversity – Woodland Forum, Forest of Dean, June 2014.
Aerial spraying against the oak processionary moth – for FC England at a residents meeting in Pangbourne, Berkshire, February 2014.