Dr Erica McAlister

Erica sampling
  • Collections Manager
  • Life Sciences department
  • Insects
Natural History Museum
Cromwell Road


Employment history

Oct 2006 – present 

Curator of Diptera, Department of Entomology, Natural History Museum

Curation of Nematocera and Orthorrhaphous Brachycera.  

May 2006                        

Consulting, University of Bristol

Lecturing on Masters Ecology and Management of the Nature Environment Course. Teaching invertebrate survey techniques, RBA and invertebrate identification

May 05 – June 06           

Teaching Assistant, Tropical Ecology Field course, La Suerte, Costa Rica


Assisting in fieldwork, running practicals, lecturing, tutoring in tropical entomology and ecological methods

Sept 2005 – Aug 2006    

Assistant Curator, Natural History Museum

- Curation, identification to family and morphospecies level of Coleoptera from World collections

The Fieldwork Look

 Oct 04 – present    

Visiting lecturer, University of Surrey Roehampton

- Undergraduate and Masters lecturing in Invertebrate Taxonomy, Ecology and sampling design



1997-2002     University of Surrey Roehampton

Ph.D. Invertebrate Colonisation and Succession on a grazing marsh, The Wetland Centre, London,


1992 – 1996  University of Manchester       

Applied Environmental Biology - 2(i) upper

Thesis Project – The relationship between Succession and Diversity in plants and invertebrates

Professional Roles


Curation of the Tipulidae collection to Museum standards. Special Funds Grant, Natural History Museum, October 2008


Guest lectures

November 2007 

Talk to University of Roehampton - The Natural History Museum, Taxonomy and Me

External Links

I have recently become an active member of the Dipterists forum

This society was set up to promote and enhance the study of Diptera in the UK, fostering links between the amateurs and the professions as well as organising field meetings and identification workshops. 



I have the responsibility for the curation of the Nematocera and the Orthorrhaphous Brachycera.

Diptera Collection

this includes;

  • recuration of the collection to modern standards (the physical maintenance of the specimens) and classification (including new and redescribed species)
  • incorporation into the collection of donated specimens from research, fieldwork or private collections. 
  • preparation of specimens suitable for the collection including the mounting and labelling 
  • responsible for the preparation and re-incorporation of loans for scientists

My other duties in the department include;

  • Public outreach for the museum in the form of 
  1. Tours for members of Staff, Public and Professional Bodies
  2. Tours for the A-level visiting groups


Special projects and ongoing recuration

Recuration of the Bombyliidae Collection

The recent donation of the Greathead collection of Bombyliidae has greatly increased the depth and breadth of the global Bombyliidae held here at the museum. All of the existing specimens have to be rehoused into modern unit trays and deepened drawers (to enable European size pins) and all new specimens have to be incorporated into the collection at the same time. The collection has to be updated on the Museum database. 

Recuration of the Asilidae Collection

The Asilidae have undergone an extensive period of revision over the past five years which has resulted in the organisation of the collection to become outdated. The organisation of the specimens as well as the housing has to be updated and the new names and localities added to the Museum database. 


Curatorial staff

John Kramer - Volunteer. Recuration of the British Tipuloidea.  

Dan Weaver - Volunteer. Nigerian Diptera



Diversity of Costa Rican Invertebrates. 

La Suerte Field Centre


In Collaboration with Dr Debbie Curtis, invertebrates were sampled over a two year period from la Suerte Field Studies Centre.

The results so far are on my scratch pad: 

Invertebrates of Costa Rica



Taxonomy of Mycetophilidae - revision of types in the Natural History Museum Collection 

British Diptera - collection of British Diptera for revision and updation of records


Recent Fieldwork


A fieldsite in Java, Indonesia


Dipterists forum Autumn meeting. Abergarvenny, South Wales. October 2008

Culidicidae collection. Thailand and Vietnam. August 2008

Dipterists forum Summer meeting. Aviemore, Scotland. June - July 2008


Culicidiae collection. Indonesia. Novemember 2007


  • Wardlaw, J.C., Webb, N.R., McAlister, E. J.A. and Murcott, J. ( 2000 ) Observations on the life cycle of Medina collaris (Fallén) (Dipt., Tachinidae). Entomologists Monthly Magazine 136 : 21-29 .
  • Bardgett, R.D. and McAlister, E. ( 1999 ) The measurement of soil fungal : bacterial biomass ratios as an indicator of ecosystem self-regulation in temperate meadow grasslands. Biology and Fertility of Soils 29 (3) : 282-290 . Biology and Fertility of Soils
  • Bardgett, R.D., Cook, R., Yeates, G.W., Donnison, L., Hobbs, P.J. and McAlister, E. ( 1997 ) Grassland Management to promote soil biodiversity. In: Grassland management in Environmentally sensitive areas. British Grassland Society 132-137 .