Dr Carly Benefer

Dr Carly Benefer

Teaching and Research Associate

School of Biological Sciences (Faculty of Science & Environment)


Teaching and Research Associate


PhD 'The Molecular and behavioural ecology of click beetles (Coleoptera: Elateridae) in agricultural land', University of Plymouth, 2011

MSc Environmental Conservation Management, University of Glamorgan, 2006

BSc Biological Sciences, University of Reading, 2005

Professional membership

  • Botanical Society of the British Isles (2016)
  • Royal Society of Biology (2015)
  • Royal Entomological Society (2008)
  • Soil Ecology Society (2009)
  • Systematics Association (2010)
  • British Ecological Society (2008)

Teaching interests

I teach (lectures/practical sessions/workshops/field trips) on undergraduate invertebrate ecology/molecular ecology/conservation themes in the School of Biological Sciences.

Research interests

I am interested in the use of molecular techniques and behavioural methods in answering questions related to invertebrate ecology, focusing on species interactions, spatial distribution, dispersal and movement, species identification and taxonomy, and phylogeography.

Current projects include DNA barcoding of Collembola (springtail) species, developing qPCR based methods to detect avian/invertebrate nematode parasites, and development of a PCR-based technique to investigate parasitoid control of pod midge in oilseed rape. I have a particular interest in agriculturally important insects (pests/natural enemies) and soil invertebrates.

Other research

Research students:

Trevor Grigg, PhD -  A novel species-specific insecticidal strategy using siRNA, with Rich Billington (Director of Studies)

Salih Salih, PhD - Application of novel food analysis methods for quality control of muscle foods, with Victor Kuri (Director of Studies) and Mairi Knight

Grants & contracts

  • Seale Hayne Educational Trust, 2016-current, 'The application of a novel population genomic approach to provide fresh insights into the causes of rarity among a major UK pollinator group' (Co-PI), with Dr Mairi Knight and Dr Jon Ellis (Plymouth University). 
  • Seale Hayne Educational Trust, 2015-current, 'Developing a molecular method to assess parasitism levels of a key oilseed rape pest, the brassica pod midge Dasineura brassicae' (PI), with Dr Ros Shaw (University of Exeter)
  • Seale Hayne Educational Trust, 2013-2015, 'A genetic study of avian gapeworm parasites' (Co-PI), with Professor Rod Blackshaw
  • Seale Hayne Educational Trust, 2012-2014, 'Development of a method to study the spatio-temporal distribution of wireworms in agricultural land' (PI), with Dr Mairi Knight
  • Barcoding UK Collembola, with Dr Peter Shaw (University of Roehampton)

Journal articles

Bearup, D., Benefer, C.M., Petrovskii,S., Blackshaw, R.P. (2016) Revisiting Brownian motion as adescription of animal movement: a comparison to experimental movementdata. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, in press, DOI: 10.1111/2041-210X.12615

Johnson, S.N., Benefer, C.M., Frew, A, Griffiths,B.S., Hartley, S.E., Karley, A.J., Rasmann, S, Schumann, M, Sonnemann, I, Robert,C.A.M. (2016) New frontiers in belowground ecology for plant protection fromroot-feeding insects. Applied Soil Ecology, 108, 96-107. DOI: 10.1016/j.apsoil.2016.07.017

Crotty, F.V., Fychan, R., Benefer, C.M., Allen,D., Shaw, P., Marley, C.L. (2016) First documented pest outbreak of theherbivorous springtail Sminthurus viridis (Collembola) inEurope. Grass and Forage Science, 71(4), 699-704. DOI: 10.1111/gfs.12235

Benefer, C.M., D'Ahmed, K.S., Blackshaw, R.P., Sint, H.M., Murray, P.J. (2016)The distribution of soil insects across three spatial scales ingrassland. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 4 (41), DOI: 10.3389/fevo.2016.00041

Shaw, P., Benefer, C.M. (2015) Developmentof a barcoding database for the UK Collembola: early results. SoilOrganisms, 87 (3), 197-202

Traugott, M., Benefer, C.M., vanHerk, W.G., Blackshaw, R.P., Vernon, R.S. (2014) Biology, ecology and controlof Elaterid beetles in agricultural land. Annual Review of Entomology60,313-334

Benefer, C.M., Blackshaw, R.P. (2013) Molecular approaches for studying rootherbivores. Advances in Insect Physiology45, 219-255

Benefer, C.M., van Herk, W.G., Ellis, J.S., Blackshaw, R.P., Vernon, R.S.,Knight, M.E. (2013) Genetic diversity and phylogenetic relationships ofeconomically important Elaterid species. Journal of Pest Science86 (1),19-27

Benefer, C.M., Knight, M.E., Ellis, J.S., Hicks, H., Blackshaw, R.P. (2012)Understanding the relationship between adult and larval Agriotes distributions:the effect of sampling method, species identification and abioticvariables. Applied Soil Ecology53, 39-48

Benefer, C.M., Andrew, P., Blackshaw, R.P., Ellis, J.S., Knight, M.E. (2010)The spatial distribution of phytophagous insect larvae in grasslandsoils, Applied Soil Ecology45, 269-274

Conference Proceedings

Benefer, C.M., Blackshaw, R.P., Knight, M.E., Ellis, J.S. (2011) Male Agriotes clickbeetle walking behaviour and response to sex pheromones. IOBC/WPRS Bulletin,Proceedings of the meeting at Innsbruck, Austria, 19-23 Jun 2011. Edited by:Ehlers RU, Crickmore N, Enkerli J, Glazer I, Kirchmair M, Lopez-Ferber M,Neuhauser S, Strasser H, Tkaczuk C, Traugott, M. 66, 504

Benefer, C.M., Blackshaw, R.P., Knight, M.E. & Ellis, J.S. (2009) Therelationship between Agriotesclick beetle (Coleoptera: Elateridae)wireworms and environmental factors. IOBC/WPRS Bulletin, Proceedings of theMeeting at Pamplona (Spain), 22-25 June, 2009. Edited by: Ralf-Udo Ehlers, NeilCrickmore, Jürg Enkerli, Itamar Glazer, Miguel-López-Ferber & CezaryTkaczuk. 45, 425

Benefer C.M., Blackshaw R.P., Knight M.E. & Ellis J.S. (2009) Thedistribution of soil insects over different spatial scales in grassland. 48thAnnual Meeting of the Society of Nematologists/Soil Ecology Society, July12-15, 2009 meeting abstracts, Burlington, Vermont, USA, Journal ofNematology, 41 (4), pp. 300