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Dryland eucalypts as a floral resource for exotic & native bees in New Zealand

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  • Full or part time
    Dr Tara Murray
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

Although once forested, the dry lowland regions of eastern New Zealand are now largely devoid of native woody vegetation and dominated by anthropogenic land-use. Eucalypts have been planted in some of these dry areas in replicated trails comprising 40,000 trees in a bid to develop a sustainable resource of naturally durable timber (not requiring chemical preservative). Unlike radiata pine, the traditional plantation species used in New Zealand forestry, eucalypts can provide high quality nectar and pollen that, in heavily modified agricultural landscapes where floral resources are seasonally limited, could provide a valuable bee resource.

We are offering a 3 year PhD scholarship at the University of Canterbury to assess the potential of the new eucalypt resource to provide high quality food for honey bees, exotic bumblebees and native pollinators, particularly during times of pollen dearth in the wider landscape. The student will assess flowering phenology (age of flowering and seasonality), nectar flows, and pollen nutritional quality across the trials to determine the best combination of breeds to provide optimal resources, year round, across dryland regions. They will quantify visitation rates and handling times to determine bee preferences and resource quality, and use geospatial imagery to assess the role eucalypts play relative to the availability of other floral resources at a landscape level. Results will help to identify those eucalypt breeds that provide the best bee resource and will determine if eucalypts can provide valuable resources for native bees within a depauperate agricultural landscape. This information will be integrated into selection decisions to retain ‘bee-optimal’ breeds in the eucalypt programme, and to assist tree growers in choosing eucalypt species and planting locations to boost the health of managed bee hives and/or populations of native and exotic bees in the wider environment.

Applicants must have a GPA of 7.0 (A-) or higher, a four-year bachelor degree with first class honours or a Master’s degree in an entomology, ecology or chemical ecology related field. Candidates should have a valid driver’s license and be willing to undertake field work.

The scholarship is available from 1 July 2019. Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled.

Applications must include:
• A full Curriculum Vitae including a statement of your research interests, relevant research background and what motivates you to pursue a PhD.
• University transcript (i.e. list of courses and grades obtained).
• The names of at least two people who can act as referees.
• Evidence of English language proficiency. If English is not your first language, international applicants must meet the University’s English language requirements (e.g. IELTS ≥ 6.5; TOEFEL ≥ 90). See for details.

The University of Canterbury is located in Christchurch, a small city in the beautiful South Island of New Zealand. The city’s central location in the South Island gives easy access to both coasts as well as the Southern Alps and a range of other unique environments. The project will include both lab work undertaken on the Christchurch campus as well as extended periods of field work in both the North and South Islands.

Funding Notes

The available scholarship covers full university fees and a stipend of $22,000 p.a. for three years. Cover for cost of travel to New Zealand for a successful international applicant will be considered.

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