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The role of woodlands in the diversity and resilience of pollinator communities in agricultural landscapes (DAVIESUBIO19ARIES) [CASE project with Woodland Trust]

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Tuesday, January 08, 2019
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

This is a CASE project with Woodland Trust.

Scientific background
Intensive agriculture is one of the main drivers of declines in pollinating insect diversity, abundance and pollination services. Ecological intensification to mitigate effects of agriculture has focused largely on restoring semi-natural habitats within farmland including florally enhanced field margins (1). The provision of pollination services on farmland is also dependent on the wider landscape context, yet relatively little attention has been paid to the influence of semi-natural and managed woodland areas upon on-farm pollinator diversity, abundance and pollination services (2).
Wild bees and hoverflies are dominant pollinator groups in most temperate terrestrial ecosystems (3). Management of woodland tree composition influences the functional structure of plant assemblages with consequences for insects including pollinators (4). Woodlands are known to provide among the highest levels of nectar production for a major UK habitat type, as well as nesting sites and larval microsites for some bumblebee and hoverfly species, respectively.
This exciting project will combine cutting-edge community, landscape and molecular ecology approaches to investigate the role of woodlands in influencing the abundance and diversity of pollinating insects, as well as the seasonal stability of floral resource provision, in agricultural landscapes. Understanding the influence of woodland management on pollinator assemblages and services on farmland, will be a theme underpinning the project.

Research methodology (the role of the student) and training
The student will carry out and receive training in: design and implementation of field-sampling of pollinating insects across East Anglia; morphological taxonomic methods for bees and hoverflies; use of DNA metabarcoding methods for identifying pollinator species from multiple bulk insect samples; computational and statistical methods in community and landscape ecology using R and ArcGIS software; preparation of outputs for peer-reviewed publication.

Person Specification: We seek an enthusiastic and versatile scientist with a strong interest in community ecology, landscape ecology and/or field entomology. Experience of molecular ecology methods is highly desirable, although training will be given. Excellent people skills are also needed for this position as the student will be liaising with farmers.

Start Date: October 2019
Mode of Study: Full-time or Part-time
Studentship length: 3.5 years
Minimum entry requirement: UK 2:1

Funding Notes

This project has been shortlisted for funding by the ARIES NERC Doctoral Training Partnership. Undertaking a PhD with ARIES will involve attendance at training events.
ARIES is committed to equality & diversity, and inclusion of students of any and all backgrounds.
Applicants from quantitative disciplines with limited environmental science experience may be considered for an additional 3-month stipend to take appropriate advanced-level courses. Usually only UK and EU nationals who have been resident in the UK for 3 years are eligible for a stipend. Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed on 26th/27th February 2019.

Further information: View Website or contact us:


References

1. Kovács-Hostyánszki, A, Espindola, A, Vanbergen, A., Settele, J., Kremen, C. & Dicks, L. V. 2017. Ecological intensification to mitigate impacts of conventional intensive land use on pollinators and pollination. Ecology Letters 20: 673–689.
2. Mandelik, Y., Winfree, R., Neeson, T. & Kremen, C. 2012. Complementary habitat use by wild bees in agro-natural landscapes. Ecological Applications 22: 1535–1546.
3. Morandin, L.A. & Kremen, C. 2013 Hedgerow restoration promotes pollinator populations and exports native bees to adjacent fields. Ecological Applications 23: 829–839
4. Barsoum, N., Coote, L., Eycott, A. E., Fuller, L., Kiewitt, A. & Davies, R. G. 2016. Diversity, functional structure and functional redundancy of woodland plant communities: how do mixed tree species plantations compare with monocultures? Forest Ecology and Management 382: 244-256.

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