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ONEPlanet DTP - Quantifying the importance of tree floral resources for pollinators in urban landscapes (OP2180)

Faculty of Engineering and Environment

Monday, January 18, 2021 Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

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 among different urban land uses, very little is known about the importance of urban trees as a pollinator resource due to the logistical challenges involved in sampling. 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 in and around Newcastle. 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 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, urban ecology, network analysis and GIS analysis as well as the opportunity to work with practitioners and other stakeholders, including the CASE partner (the British Beekeepers Association).

Funding Notes

Each of our studentship awards include 3.5 years of fees (Home), an annual living allowance (£15,285) and a Research Training Support Grant (for travel, consumables, as required).

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