Why this project is important: solar parks are growing exponentially across the world and this growth is expected to continue. At the same time there is growing global concern that reduced pollinator populations are limiting the production of critical things, including food, on which society relies. The land solar parks occupy could be used to boost pollinator populations and pollination services to surrounding agricultural land, offering an energy ecosystem win-win. Consequently, this project will examine the potential for solar parks to mitigate pollinator declines and boost pollination services through provision of microclimatic niches that mitigate climate change, and increased floral resources, landscape heterogeneity and connectivity. The findings from the project will inform both pollination and solar park strategies and policies, delivering a real world benefit.
The focus: this PhD will further fundamental understanding of regulators of pollinator decline and implications for pollination services using solar parks as a test-bed, ultimately delivering relevant evidence to inform policy and practice.
What’s in it for the candidate: the successful candidate will become an expert in pollinators, pollination services, and energy-environment interactions. They will develop a broad suite of relevant skills including experimental design, field skills (climate, vegetation and pollinator), statistics, GIS, and communication for different audiences, ensuring they are highly employable in a range of sectors. The project is in collaboration with Low Carbon, with whom they will undertake an internship to gain experience of the industry. Given the relevance of the topic they will also be involved in producing industry and policy orientated-outputs, providing additional training. The student will be fully integrated in research teams within Lancaster and Reading (where they will spend one month per year), accessing training, facilities and networks in both institutions, including overseas collaborators.
We are looking for an enthusiastic and determined student who enjoys fieldwork, data analysis and working with stakeholders. Candidates must have a minimum of a UK Honours Degree at 2:1 level or equivalent in subjects such as Environmental Science, Ecology, Biological Science, Geography or Natural Sciences.
Interested applicants are strongly advised to get in touch to learn more about the PhD project. Please contact Dr Alona Armstrong, [email protected].