Lara-Sophie Dey wins CETAF E-SCoRe Award

© LIB, Dey


The CETAF awards LIB researcher Lara-Sophie Dey the E-SCoRe Award, which is given annually to young scientists. She will receive the award in November in Vienna for her research work on the speckled buzzing grasshopper. An interview with the award winner:

How did CETAF become aware of your work?

In March, I applied for the prize, which was advertised throughout Europe. CETAF is a consortium that promotes the conservation of biodiversity in Europe and awards this prize every year to PhD students or young scientists. I submitted a study from 2021: “Analysis of geographic centrality and genetic diversity in the declining grasshopper species Bryodemella tuberculata (Orthoptera: Oedipodinae)“. Long title, short sense: We took a closer look at and analysed the extinction process of the speckled buzzing grasshopper in Central Europe.

What exactly is the study about?

We have noticed that the grasshopper was in the process of extinction in Central Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries. Many habitats disappeared, and we wondered: What exactly could have caused this? To find out, we modelled the ecological niche and found out that actually all locations in Europe still offer a suitable habitat for the grasshopper, at least in terms of their climate. So what else could have caused this, if not climate change? We found an interesting story about this in the Lüneburg Heide: At that time, a lot of sheep and heath farming was practised here. Since there were cheaper products on the market at that time, the farmers changed their orientation and started with traditional agriculture. Thus, we could easily understand that the extinction of the grasshopper was closely linked to the transformation of the heath landscape to agriculture. At that time, the last specimens were caught there, which we also keep in our collection at the Museum of Nature Hamburg.

Prizes include the opportunity to present your research at the next CETAF board meeting, a visit to a partner institute and 1,000 euros in prize money. What exactly do you plan to do with the prize?

The award ceremony is in November in Vienna – that will also be the board meeting at which I will present my work. I would like to visit the CETAF Institute in Madrid, if that is possible. I am working intensively with the Oedipodines and for this reason I would like to see as much type material as possible on these animals. I have already been to many museums in Europe and Asia – but not in Madrid yet. I would like to use the prize money to improve my camera equipment a bit – that would also help me for the visit to Madrid.

What are your further plans?

Last month I successfully completed my PhD. I will continue to work at the LIB as a technical assistant and will become the temporary head of the molecular laboratory from 15 June. Scientifically, I would like to continue working on the speckled buzzing grasshopper. Recently, for example, we were able to detect the largest genome ever found in an insect.


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