Spencer Monckton's logo that is a square with his intials inside

Spencer K. Monckton

Entomologist & Systematist

Photo of sawfly from the side


Photo of Spencer Monckton

I am a Ph.D. Student in Biology at York University, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. I'm an entomologist and systematist, and I'm interested in just about anything to do with biodiversity and evolution - especially insect taxonomy, diversity, and biogeography. Hymenoptera are my specialty. I'm also a quick & resourceful learner, an enthusiastic problem-solver, and I have a knack for communicating knowledge in a clear, accessible, and engaging fashion.

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Diversity and phylogeography of the sawfly genus Pristiphora in the Nearctic region

Presently I'm working on an integrative systematic revision of Nearctic sawflies in the genus Pristiphora. These sawflies are diverse and abundant in North America - like the rest of the Nematinae, their diversity is higher in northern regions than in the tropics. As part of this work I'm looking into patterns of sawfly distribution in the Nearctic, in order to better understand the reasons for their diversity here. My research takes place at PCYU.Packer Lab

Revision of Chilicola (Heteroediscelis), a subgenus of bees endemic to Chile (Master's thesis)

My Master's thesis focused on the systematics and biogeography of a subgenus of bees in the genus Chilicola (Colletidae, Xeromelissinae). These are small, slender bees that nest in plant stems and are found throughout much of Chile, having apparently diversified via north-south disjunctions roughly corresponding with Chile's varied biogeographic regions. I described 8 of the 17 species of Heteroediscelis, and produced a thoroughly-illustrated ID key. You can see the finished work here ZooKeys (open access).


vene diagram showing 1.8% overlap

Validating taxonomic identifications in entomological research

Packer, L., Monckton, S.K., Onuferko, T.M., Ferrari R.R. 2018. Insect Conservation and Diversity, 11: 1-12. doi: 10.1111/icad.12284

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A revision of Chilicola (Heteroediscelis), a subgenus of xeromelissine bees (Hymenoptera, Colletidae) endemic to Chile: taxonomy, phylogeny, and biogeography, with descriptions of eight new species.

Monckton, S.K. 2016. ZooKeys, 591: 1-144. doi:10.3897/zookeys.591.7731

sideview of chilicola
sideview of chilicola

Case 3670 - Chilicola vicugna Toro & Moldenke, 1979 (Insecta, Hymenoptera, COLLETIDAE): proposed replacement of the holotype by a neotype.

Monckton, S.K. 2014. Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature, 71(4): 234-236. doi:10.21805/bzn.v71i4.a13

Fruit ripening signals and cues in a Madagascan dry forest: haptic indicators reliably indicate fruit ripeness to dichromatic lemurs.

Valenta, K., Miller, C.N., Monckton, S.K., Melin, A.D., Lehman, S.M., Styler, S.A., Chapman, C.A., Lawes, M.J. 2016. Evolutionary Biology. doi:10.1007/s11692-016-9374-7

Chart showing ripening indicators
Results chart showing VOC and reflectance

It’s not easy being blue: a cost analysis of plant signal trade-offs.

Valenta, K., Brown, K.A., Melin, A.D., Monckton, S.K., Styler, S.A. Jackson, D.A., Chapman, C.A. 2015. PLoS ONE, 10(6): e0131725. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0131725



Biology (Hon.), 2011

University of Ottawa


Biology, 2015

York University


Biology, In progress

York University



Icon of a map

I love maps, and have geocoded thousands of specimen records to produce publication-quality maps of distributions, biogeographic regionsMap via ZooKeys, and geophylogenies using ArcGIS, QGIS, Google Earth, etc.


Icon of two pens

I have great working knowledge of Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, and I regularly use both to produce high-quality images & illustrationsFigure via ZooKeys for research. Non-scientific illustration is also a hobby of mine (see the icons in this section).


Icon of a speech bubble

In addition to academic talks and publications, I have engaged with community groups and written for the general public.The Canadian Encylopedia I enjoy finding clear, intuitive, and compelling ways to communicate biological knowledge to non-experts.


icon of a sawfly on a computer screen

Having processed and curated thousands of specimens, I'm familiar with curatorial best practices and I have experience building and maintaining databases. I have also visited and worked in several large natural history collections.