Emma Despland

Associate Professor,
Concordia University

Department of Biology
E-mail: emma.despland@concordia.ca
Institution page


  • Postdoctorate, Oxford University, Canada-UK Millennium Fellow, Zoology, 2001
  • Doctorate of Philosophy, Oxford University, Zoology, 1999
  • Master's, Université Laval, Biologie, 1992
  • Bachelor's, McGill University, 1992


My research focusses on individual behaviour in plant-insect interactions, and its role in population-level processes. Most of my work to date has concentrated on two outbreaking insect species: the forest tent caterpillar and the desert locust.

QCBS students

Anne-Sophie Caron

Other (co-)supervisor: Benoit Lafleur, UQAT
(Start: 2018)
Trophic interactions of Forest Tent Caterpillars in temperate and boreal forests of Quebec

Eric Dexheimer

(Start: 2018)
Habitat use and oviposition of the European Common Blue in Quebec

Allison Pamela Yataco Marquez

(Start: 2020, End: 2021)
Insect biodiversity in White Spruce plantation and Boreal forest

Previous students (since 2009)

Ennis Darragh

Postdoctoral fellow
(Start: 2010, End: 2012)
Does rearing on artificial diet affect spruce budworm's ability to feed on foliage?

Emilie Dion

Postdoctoral fellow
(Start: 2012, End: 2013)
Rôle des cires épicuticulaires dans la résistance naturelle de l'épinette blanche

Mahsa Hakimara


The vertical stratification effect on herbivorous arthropods communities in temperate forest

Melanie McClure

(Start: 2007, End: 2011)
Variation in forest tent caterpillar social behaviour

Christopher Adlam

(Start: 2006, End: 2009)
Phoretic behaviour in Antennoseius mites

Thomas Bourdier

(Start: 2010, End: 2012)
spruce budworm behaviour on susceptible and resistant white spruce

Dominic Donkor

(Start: 2016, End: 2018)
How spruce budworm metabolize plant host toxins.

Jessica Ethier

(Start: 2008, End: 2013)
Polyphenisms in forest tent moths


(Start: 2015, End: 2019)
Assessment of early spring predation by ants on Forest tent Caterpillars (Malacosoma disstria).

Brian Mader

(Start: 2008, End: 2010)
Inheritance of behaviour in the spruce budworm

Chris Plenzich

(Start: 2013, End: 2016)
Caterpillar collective foraging on different host plants

Kalyani Rajalingham

(Start: 2010, End: 2014)
Behaviour of forest tent caterpillar colonies on hybrid poplar clones

Melissa Ralph

(Start: 2009, End: 2012)
Comportement de la livree des forets sur peuplier hybride

Solène Sagne

(Start: 2015, End: 2017)
Behaviour of spruce budworm emerging from diapause before host budbreak

Zhe Shi

(Start: 2005, End: 2007)
Aspen defenses and forest tent caterpillar feeding

Examples of species studied

Malacosoma disstria
Pinus banksiana
Schistocerca gregaria
Choristoneura fumiferana
Spodoptera exigua
Mechanitis menapis


68- Competition between a native and introduced pollinator in unmanaged urban meadows
Taggar A K , McGrath E , Despland E ,
2021 Biological Invasions (Date Added: 2021-03-18)

65- Life cycle and natural enemies of mechanitis menapis (Lepidoptera: Ithomiini)
Santacruz P G , Despland E , Giraldo C E ,
2019 Revista de Biologia Tropical (Date Added: 2020-01-09)

64- Caterpillars cooperate to overcome plant glandular trichome defenses
Despland E ,
2019 Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution (Date Added: 2019-07-16)

63- Detoxification of host plant phenolic aglycones by the spruce budworm
Donkor D , Mirzahosseini Z , Bede J , Bauce E , Despland E ,
2019 PLoS ONE (Date Added: 2019-06-01)

62- Host-plant mediated effects on group cohesion and mobility in a nomadic gregarious caterpillar
C Plenzich, ED
2018 Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology (Date Added: 2018-04-14)

61- Defining the window of opportunity for feeding initiation by second-instar spruce budworm larvae1
Fuentealba A , Sagne S , Pureswaran D , Bauce ,
2018 Canadian Journal of Forest Research (Date Added: 2018-03-13)

60- Effects of phenological synchronization on caterpillar early-instar survival under a changing climate1
Despland E ,
2018 Canadian Journal of Forest Research (Date Added: 2018-03-13)

59- How does synchrony with host plant affect the performance of an outbreaking insect defoliator?
Fuentealba A , Pureswaran D , Bauce ,
2017 Oecologia (Date Added: 2017-08-07)

58- Double allomimesis of advancing and retreating individuals maintains cohesion in exploring groups of nomadic caterpillars
Despland E , Gervais D , Morcos L ,
2017 Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology (Date Added: 2017-03-24)

57-Condition dependence in animal colouration: tools for a comparative approach
Ethier, J, Despland, E
2016 PeerJ ( Date Added: 2018-05-11)

56-Dangerous caterpillars
Despland E ,
2016 Entomological Society of Canada ( Date Added: 2018-05-11)

55-Whither the naturalist in the Anthropocene?
Despland, E
2016 EcoTone: news and views on ecological science ( Date Added: 2018-05-11)

54-eButterfly as a teaching tool
Despland, E
2016 eButterfly ( Date Added: 2018-05-11)

53- Do white spruce epicuticular wax monoterpenes follow foliar patterns?
Despland, E, Bourdier, T, Dion, E, Bauce, E
2016 Canadian Journal of Forest Research (Date Added: 2016-08-30)

51- Spruce budworm feeding and oviposition are stimulated by monoterpenes in white spruce epicuticular waxes
Ennis, D, Despland, E, Chen, F, Forgione, P, Bauce, E
2016 Insect Science (Date Added: 2016-06-14)

50- Exploration costs promote conservative collective foraging in the social caterpillar Malacosoma disstria
Santana, AFK, McClure, M, Ethier, J, Despland, E
2015 Animal Behaviour (Date Added: 2015-06-17)

49- Is Feeding Behaviour on Foliage Affected by lab-Rearing on Artificial Diet?
Ennis, DE, Mader, BJ, Burnside, K, Bauce, E, Despland, E
2015 Journal of Insect Behavior (Date Added: 2015-03-09)

48- The costs of colour: plasticity of melanin pigmentation in an outbreaking polymorphic forest moth
Ethier, J, Gasse, M, Lake, K, Jones, BC, Evenden, ML, Despland, E
2015 Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata (Date Added: 2015-02-24)

47- Butterflies of the high-altitude Atacama Desert: habitat use and conservation
Despland, E
2014 Evolutionary and Population Genetics (Date Added: 2015-01-12)

46- Rapid behavioural gregarization in the desert locust, Schistocerca gregaria entails synchronous changes in both activity and attraction to conspecifics
Rogers, SM, Cullen, DA, Anstey, ML, Burrows, M, Despland, E, Dodgson, T, Matheson, T, Ott, SR, Stettin, K, Sword, GA, Simpson, SJ
2014 Journal of Insect Physiology (Date Added: 2014-05-27)

45- Plasticity of collective behavior in a nomadic early spring folivore
Despland, E
2013 Frontiers in Physiology (Date Added: 2013-07-08)

44- Collective choice of a higher-protein food source by gregarious caterpillars occurs through differences in exploration
McClure, M, Morcos, L, Despland, E
2013 Behavioral Ecology (Date Added: 2013-01-01)

43- Species Richness and Phenology of Butterflies Along an Altitude Gradient in the Desert of Northern Chile
Despland, E, Humire, R, Martín, SS
2012 Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research (Date Added: 2012-12-10)

42- Larval experience induces adult aversion to rearing host plants: a novel behaviour contrary to Hopkins' host selection principle
Mader, BJ, Daoust, SP, Cardinal-Aucoin, M, Bauce, E, Despland, E
2012 Ecological Entomology (Date Added: 2012-06-05)

41- Effects of polymorphic melanism and larval diet on life history traits of Malacosoma disstria moths
Ethier, J, Despland, E
2012 Journal of Insect Physiology (Date Added: 2012-06-05)

39- Group leadership depends on energetic state in a nomadic collective foraging caterpillar
McClure, M, Ralph, M, Despland, E
2011 Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology (Date Added: 2012-06-05)

38- Taste receptor activity and feeding behaviour reveal mechanisms of white spruce natural resistance to Eastern spruce budworm Choristoneura fumiferana
Despland, E, Gundersen, M, Daoust, SP, Mader, BJ, Delvas, N, Albert, PJ, Bauce, E
2011 Physiological Entomology (Date Added: 2012-06-05)

37- Thermal ecology and behaviour of the nomadic social forager Malacosoma disstria
McClure, M, Cannell, E, Despland, E
2011 Physiological Entomology (Date Added: 2012-06-05)

36- Collective foraging patterns of field colonies of Malacosoma disstria caterpillars
McClure, M, Despland, E
2010 Canadian Entomologist (Date Added: 2012-05-03)

35- Influence of epicuticular-wax composition on the feeding pattern of a phytophagous insect: Implications for host resistance
Daoust, SP, Mader, BJ, Bauce, E, Despland, E, Dussutour, A, Albert, PJ
2010 Canadian Entomologist (Date Added: 2012-05-03)

34- Larval nutrition affects life history traits in a capital breeding mothi
Colasurdo, N, Gélinas, Y, Despland, E
2009 Journal of Experimental Biology (Date Added: 2012-05-03)

33- Nutrient utilization by caterpillars of the generalist beet armyworm, Spodoptera exigua
Merkx-Jacques, M, Despland, E, Bede, JC
2008 Physiological Entomology (Date Added: 2012-05-03)

32- Influence of dietary nutritional composition on caterpillar salivary enzyme activity
Babic, B, Poisson, A, Darwish, S, Lacasse, J, Merkx-Jacques, M, Despland, E, Bede, JC
2008 Journal of Insect Physiology (Date Added: 2012-05-03)

31- Individual differences influence collective behaviour in social caterpillars
Dussutour, A, Nicolis, SC, Despland, E, Simpson, SJ
2008 Animal Behaviour (Date Added: 2012-05-03)

30- Collective decision-making and behavioral polymorphism in group living organisms
Nicolis, SC, Despland, E, Dussutour, A
2008 Journal of Theoretical Biology (Date Added: 2012-05-03)

28- How do ants and social caterpillars collectively make decisions?
Dussutour, A, Colasurdo, N, Nicolis, SC, Despland, E
2007 Cognitive decision-making : empirical and foundational issues (Date Added: 2012-08-09)

27- Pros and cons of group living in the forest tent caterpillar: Separating the roles of silk and of grouping
Despland, E, Le Huu, A
2007 Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata (Date Added: 2012-05-03)

26- Do food protein and carbohydrate content influence the pattern of feeding and the tendency to explore of forest tent caterpillars?
Colasurdo, N, Dussutour, A, Despland, E
2007 Journal of Insect Physiology (Date Added: 2012-05-03)

25- Consistent individual differences in the foraging behaviour of forest tent caterpillars (Malacosoma disstria)
Nemiroff, L, Despland, E
2007 Canadian Journal of Zoology (Date Added: 2012-05-03)

24- Resource distribution mediates synchronization of physiological rhythms in locust groups.
Despland, E, Simpson, SJ
2006 Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences (Date Added: 2012-05-03)

23- From disorder to order in marching locusts
Buhl, J, Sumpter, DJT, Couzin, ID, Hale, JJ, Despland, E, Miller, ER, Simpson, SJ
2006 Science (Date Added: 2012-05-03)

22- Effects of synchronization with host plant phenology occur early in the larval development of a spring folivore
Jones, BC, Despland, E
2006 Canadian Journal of Zoology (Date Added: 2012-05-03)

21- Plasticity in forest tent caterpillar collective foraging schedules
Peters, MI, Despland, E
2006 Ethology (Date Added: 2012-05-03)

20- How well do specialist feeders regulate nutrient intake? Evidence from a gregarious tree-feeding caterpillar
Despland, E, Noseworthy, M
2006 Journal of Experimental Biology (Date Added: 2012-05-03)

19- How do primary nutrients affect the performance and preference of forest tent caterpillars on trembling aspen?
Noseworthy, MK, Despland, E
2006 Canadian Entomologist (Date Added: 2012-05-03)

18- Diet breadth and anti-predator strategies in desert locusts and other Orthopterans
Despland, E
2005 Journal of Orthoptera Research (Date Added: 2012-08-09)

16- Food choices of solitarious and gregarious locusts reflect cryptic and aposematic antipredator strategies
Despland, E, Simpson, SJ
2005 Animal Behaviour (Date Added: 2012-05-03)

15- Social cues and following behavior in the forest tent caterpillar
Colasurdo, N, Despland, E
2005 Journal of Insect Behavior (Date Added: 2012-05-03)

14- Ontogenetic changes in social behaviour in the forest tent caterpillar, Malacosoma disstria
Despland, E, Hamzeh, S
2004 Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology (Date Added: 2012-05-03)

13- Locust transformation: From solitarious Dr Jekyll to swarming Mr Hyde
Despland, E
2004 Biologist (Date Added: 2012-05-03)

12- Landscape structure and locust swarming: A satellite's eye view
Despland, E, Rosenberg, J, Simpson, SJ
2004 Ecography (Date Added: 2012-05-03)

11- Mechanosensory-induced behavioural gregarization in the desert locust Schistocerca gregaria
Rogers, SM, Matheson, T, Despland, E, Dodgson, T, Burrows, M, Simpson, SJ
2003 Journal of Experimental Biology (Date Added: 2012-05-03)

10- Fractal index captures the role of vegetation clumping in locust swarming
Despland, E
2003 Functional Ecology (Date Added: 2012-05-03)

8- Gregarious behavior in desert locusts is evoked by touching their back legs
Simpson, SJ, Despland, E, Hägele, BF, Dodgson, T
2001 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (Date Added: 2012-05-03)

7- The role of food distribution and nutritional quality in behavioural phase change in the desert locust
Despland, E, Simpson, SJ
2000 Animal Behaviour (Date Added: 2012-05-03)

6- Small-scale vegetation patterns in the parental environment influence the phase state of hatchlings of the desert locust
Despland, E, Simpson, SJ
2000 Physiological Entomology (Date Added: 2012-05-03)

5- Small-scale processes in desert locust swarm formation: How vegetation patterns influence gregarization
Despland, E, Collett, M, Simpson, SJ
2000 Oikos (Date Added: 2012-05-03)

4- Impaired shell gaping and food depletion as mechanisms of asymmetric competition in mussels
Fréchette, M, Despland, E
1999 Ecoscience (Date Added: 2012-05-03)

3- Spatial scales of desert locust gregarization
Collett, M, Despland, E, Simpson, SJ, Krakauer, DC
1998 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (Date Added: 2012-05-03)