About the Project
Pollinating insects are declining globally, however research has shown that towns and cities in the UK and elsewhere can provide important habitat for some wild pollinator groups, particularly bees (Baldock et al. 2015). In addition to wild pollinators, urban green spaces also support managed honeybees. Honeybees provide social benefits, including the production of honey and other hive products, and also contribute to the provision of pollination services in gardens and urban agriculture. There has been a large increase in the number of urban beekeepers over the last twenty years, e.g. beekeeper numbers grew by 53% in Berlin, Germany between 2006 and 2012 (Lorenz & Stark 2015). However, the impact of this increase in colony density on honeybee health has been little studied. Moreover, the wider conservation benefits of urban beekeeping are uncertain; research in Paris showed that some groups of wild pollinators are negatively affected by the density of honeybees hives (Ropars et al. 2019) and there is an urgent need to test whether these findings can be generalised across cities in different contexts (Egerer & Kowarik 2020). Honeybee hives are increasingly being established in dense urban centres (e.g. city centre roof tops), and finding strategies for enhancing pollinator foraging habitat in cities that enable the co-existence of honeybees and wild pollinators is a key challenge for urban land managers and policymakers.
Using a combination of observational and experimental approaches, this PhD project will address some or all of the following questions and knowledge gaps (depending on the student’s interests):
- What is the impact of high colony density on urban honeybee health and honey yield?
- How are plant-pollinator networks in urban green spaces affected by high honeybee densities?
- Which pollinator groups are important for pollination services in gardens and urban agriculture?
- How well can novel habitat interventions in dense urban centres (e.g. green roofs, green walls) support pollinator communities?
- What is the public perception of urban beekeeping and are beekeepers motivated by broader conservation goals?
The supervisory team have expertise in urban pollinator ecology (Drs Mark Goddard, Katherine Baldock, Rinke Vinkenoog), and urban honey and pollen analysis (Dr Matthew Pound). The project will also benefit from existing relationships with a range of local stakeholders, including local authorities across Tyneside and urban beekeeping groups.
- Baldock, KCR., Goddard, MA et al. (2015). Where is the UK’s pollinator biodiversity? The importance of urban areas for flower-visiting insects. Proceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences 282: 20142849.
- Lorenz, S. & Stark, K. (2015). Saving the honeybees in Berlin? A case study of the urban beekeeping boom, Environmental Sociology, 1:2, 116-126.
- Ropars, L. et al. (2019). Wild pollinator activity negatively related to honey bee colony densities in urban content. PLOS ONE 14(9): e0222316.
- Egerer, M. & Kowarik, I. (2020). Confronting the Modern Gordian Knot of Urban Beekeeping. Trend in Ecology & Evolution 35, 956-959.
The principal supervisor for this project is Dr. Mark Goddard.
Please note eligibility requirement:
· Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
· Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
· Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.
For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see
Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. RDF21/EE/GES/GODDARDMark) will not be considered.
Deadline for applications: 29 January 2021
Start Date: 1 October 2021
Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community.
Baldock, K. C. R., Goddard, M. A. et al. (2019). A systems approach reveals urban pollinator hotspots and conservation opportunities. Nature Ecology & Evolution 3: 363-373.
Baldock, K.C.R., Goddard, M.A. et al. (2015). Where is the UK's pollinator biodiversity? The importance of urban areas for flower-visiting insects. Proceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences 282: 20142849.
Pound, M., Dalgleish, A., McCoy, J., Partington, J. (2018). Melissopalynology of honey from Ponteland, UK, shows the role of Brassica napus in supporting honey production in a suburban to rural setting. Palynology 42, 400-405.
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