Urban expansion is one of the main threats to global biodiversity, with 70% of the global human population predicted to be living in urban areas by 2050. Some pollinator groups, particularly bees, can do well in urban areas, although negative impacts of urbanisation have been reported for other taxa, including hoverflies and beetles.
While recent studies have compared plant-pollinator communities found in different urban land uses, very little is known about the importance of urban trees as a resource for pollinators due to the logistical challenges involved in sampling them. This knowledge gap is a major challenge when planning conservation strategies for pollinators in urban areas. The main aims of this project are to quantify the floral resources (nectar and pollen) provided by urban trees and to examine how pollinators use trees in relation to other resources available in the landscape.
Data on floral resources and plant-pollinator interactions will be collected in urban field sites including Newcastle and Bristol. Seasonal and spatial variation in resource availability will be assessed using GIS maps provided by city council partners and remote sensing techniques. Plant-pollinator networks will be constructed using flower-visitation data from trees and the surrounding vegetation. Network analyses will be used to assess the importance of trees for plant-pollinator community robustness (i.e. how susceptible the communities are to extinction) and to test the effects of different management strategies. The results will be shared with city councils to enable the development of city-wide planting strategies to maximise year-round floral resources available for pollinators.
The PhD offers excellent opportunities for training in pollinator sampling, network analysis and GIS analysis as well as the opportunity to work with practitioners.
This project is suitable for a student with a background in ecology. Fieldwork will involve learning and using tree climbing techniques. Previous experience of network analysis and of pollinator sampling and identification are desirable. For more information, please contact Dr. Katherine Baldock ([email protected]
Eligibility and How to Apply:
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.
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. OP.....) will not be considered.
Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality.
We have a minimum of 12 (3.5 year) PhD fully funded studentship awards available for October 2020 entry. Each award includes fees (Home / EU), an annual living allowance (for 2019/20 this is £15,009) and a Research Training Support Grant (for travel, consumables, as required).