Emma Despland, PhD

Professor, Biology


B.Sc. Environmental Biology (McGill)
M.Sc. Biologie (Laval)
D.Phil. Zoology (Oxford)

Research interests

My research examines plant-insect interactions at the level of the individual organism, focusing on behaviour, nutrition and chemical ecology.

I investigate questions about the roles of social relationships with conspecifics and of trophic relationships with food plants and natural enemies. My focus is on outbreaking pest insects, both in Canada (Forest Tent Caterpillar and Spruce Budworm) and internationally (desert locust), and in conservation in the Montreal urban landscape and in the neotropics.

Teaching activities

Research activities

Graduate opportunities with the following on-going projects:

Please contact me for more information.

Current and former lab members can be found here.


Selected publications:
Despland, E. (2018) Effects of phenological synchronization on caterpillar early-instar survival under a changing climate. Canadian Journal of Forest Research, 48(3):247-254.

Despland, E., Gervais, D. and Morcos, L. (2017) Double allomimesis of advancing and retreating individuals maintains cohesion in exploring groups of nomadic caterpillars. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 71(3).0.

Despland, E. (2014) Butterflies of the high-altitude Atacama desert: Habitat use and conservation. Frontiers in Genetics, 5

Despland, E. (2013) Plasticity of collective behavior in a nomadic early spring folivore. Frontiers in Physiology, 4(54):1-11.

Colasurdo, N., Gélinas, Y. and Despland, E. (2009) Larval nutrition affects life history traits in a capital breeding moth. Journal of Experimental Biology, 212(12):1794-1800.

Buhl, J., Sumpter, D.J.T., Couzin, I.D., Hale, J.J., Despland, E., Miller, E.R. and Simpson, S.J. (2006) From disorder to order in marching locusts. Science, 312(5778):1402-1406.

Despland, E. and Simpson, S.J. (2006) Resource distribution mediates synchronization of physiological rhythms in locust groups. Proceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences, 273:1517-1522.

View the complete list of publications

Artistic performances

En Masse (2015) and Mass Transit (2015-2016) with Alison Loader and Chris Plenzich
Malacosoma disstria (2013) with Alison Loader and Jessica Ethier, videos I & II
Wundergarden (2011-2012) with Tagny Duff

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