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Foraging Ecology & Behaviour of Bees and Other Pollinators

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  • Full or part time
    Prof F Ratnieks
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

PhD Student Required for a 4-Year Fully-Funded Studentship on the Foraging Ecology & Behaviour of Bees and Other Pollinators

Title: Quantifying foraging competition and improving floral resources for bees and pollinator species

Start date: April/May 2016 (or possibly late September 2016)

Duration: 4 years

Funding: Fully funded for 4 years (stipend starting £14,507 pa. Home/EU fee waiver research expenses, travel to meetings/workshops/conferences)

Funders: Jointly funded by the The CB Dennis British Beekeepers’ Research Trust and the Graduate School of the University of Sussex.

Supervisor: Professor Francis L. W. Ratnieks

Co-supervisors: The student will be able to select one or more co-supervisors from the Sussex faculty.

Institution: Laboratory of Apiculture & Social Insects, School of Life Sciences, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK

Brief Description of the PhD: The PhD has two main elements: Focus 1 will be on competition for floral resources, especially nectar, between honey bees, bumble bees, and other insects, on wild flowers and crops. Focus 2 will be on how to improve the value of commercially-available ornamental garden plants to bees. Much of the research for Focus 1 will be field based and will be able to take place using wild flowers and crops growing on the Sussex campus or within a few kilometres, including on neighbouring farms and at the nearby Castle Hill Nature Reserve. Focus 2 will be based on the Sussex campus using specially planted experimental plots of ornamental garden plants and plants in greenhouses, and will likely also include some work with garden centres and plant nurseries. The student will be based at the Laboratory of Apiculture & Social Insects on the University of Sussex campus

LASI web site:

F. Ratnieks Google Scholar Page:

LASI You Tube Channel:

Further information: Contact supervisor at [Email Address Removed]

Applications: To be made on line to the University of Sussex at or . Apply for a PhD in Biology. Applicants will need to provide their CV, names and contact information of 2 or 3 academic/scientific referees, and a short cover letter explaining why this studentship is of interest to them, why they are suitable, and what they may bring to it. A project description is not required.
Deadline for applications: 15 March 2016. Interviews/selection will take place in March/early April 2016.

Funding Notes

Qualifications: BSc (2.1 or 1, or equivalent from other countries) in a relevant subject. An MSc is preferred but not essential. The PhD will likely be most suited to a person with interests and experience in one or more of the following: ecology, behavioural ecology, conservation biology, entomology, bee biology, pollination biology, plant-insect relations.

Eligibility: UK and EU citizens/residents.


Background to the Project: The PhD will be novel research but will build on previous LASI research studying these questions, as part of the “Sussex Plan for Honey Bee Health & Well Being”. Two key publications are:

Balfour, N. J., Gandy, S., Ratnieks, F. L. W. 2015. Exploitative competition alters bee foraging and flower choice. Behavioral Ecology & Sociobiology 69: 1731-1738.

Garbuzov, M., Ratnieks, F. L. W. 2014. Quantifying variation among garden plants in attractiveness to bees and other flower-visiting insects. Functional Ecology, 28: 364-374.

Related Subjects

How good is research at University of Sussex in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 47.61

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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