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The success of strategic restoration for pollinator connectivity


   Faculty of Health and Life Science


Liverpool United Kingdom Agricultural Sciences Climate Science Ecology Environmental Engineering Plant Biology Plant Cell Biology Soil Science Zoology

About the Project

Climate change threatens the sustainability of the pollination service, on which our food supply and all ecosystems depend. One way to tackle this challenge is to expand, improve and connect up wildflower-rich habitats. Several policies aim to achieve this, but there is still limited empirical evidence of the success of the new habitats and connections.

This NERC ACCE PhD project will provide invaluable evidence quantifying the success of strategically-located restoration. We will bring together a leading exemplar restoration project run by Buglife (The Invertebrate Conservation Trust) with new data on pollinator dispersal, and expertise on spatial population modelling. The Buglife ‘B-lines’ constitute a prioritised network for insect pollinators threatened by habitat loss and climate change. New flower-rich habitats created in the last decade have been mapped across Britain, and further restoration is constantly being planned and prioritised for funding.

Objectives are to:

  • Test which insect pollinator species have colonised the habitat restored within the Buglife B-lines project.
  • Test the impact of functional connectivity to pre-existing habitat on pollinator colonisation success.
  • Forecast the long-term impact of restoration within B-lines, based on empirically validated models.
  • Develop a framework for planning similar ‘ecological network’ projects in future, making sure that the loss of pre-existing habitat can’t be inappropriately offset by the plans for new habitat.

This project is a novel and unique opportunity to study the outcomes of a habitat restoration project which started a decade ago, with the improvement of connectivity as a central goal from the outset. The successful applicant will gain an excellent range of skills by combining ecological fieldwork with GIS analysis and modelling. Work in the Hodgson group tackles some of the biggest questions about how we configure landscapes for conserving biodiversity despite climate- and socioeconomic change. Dr Hodgson has collaborated with Buglife since 2009 and her Condatis model of connectivity has been used to plan the B-lines network. Her collaborations with Prof Hill have included using Condatis to help plan additional forest protection in Borneo.

INFORMAL ENQUIRIES are very welcome, but please note Dr Hodgson will be unavailable for meetings in January. Please email to arrange informal chats or to enquire about aspects of the project in November or December.

Institute webpages:

https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/infection-veterinary-and-ecological-sciences/

www.liverpool.ac.uk/evolution

HOW TO APPLY

Notes and how to apply are available here: https://accedtp.ac.uk/acce-dtp-phd-opportunities-at-university-of-liverpool/


Funding Notes

NERC ACCE DTP in Ecology and Evolution, programme starts October 2022.
UKRI provide the following funding for 3.5 years:
• Stipend (2021/21 UKRI rate £15,609)
• Tuition Fees at UK fee rate (2021/22 rate £4,500)
• Research support and training grant (RTSG)
Note - UKRI funding only covers UK (Home) fees (£4,500 at 2021/22 rate). A limited number of international fee bursaries will be awarded on a competitive basis. However, if selected International and EU fee rate candidates may need to cover the remaining amount of tuition fees by securing additional funding. International fees for 2020/21 entry were £24,250 per annum.

References

Travers, T.J.P., Alison, J., Taylor, S.D., Crick, H.Q.P. & Hodgson, J.A. (2021) Habitat patches providing South-North connectivity are under-protected in a fragmented landscape. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 288, 20211010. https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2021.1010
Shi, X., Xiao, H., Luo, S., Hodgson, J.A., Bianchi, F.J.J.A., He, H., van der Werf, W. & Zou, Y. (2021) Can landscape level semi-natural habitat compensate for pollinator biodiversity loss due to farmland consolidation? Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 319, 107519.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agee.2021.107519
Threadgill, K.R.D., McClean, C.J., Hodgson, J.A., Jones, N. & Hill, J.K. (2020) Agri-environment conservation set-asides have co-benefits for connectivity. Ecography, Online Early.
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/ecog.05127
Alison, J., Duffield, S.J., van Noordwijk, C.G.E., Morecroft, M.D., Marrs, R.H., Saccheri, I.J. & Hodgson, J.A. (2016) Spatial targeting of habitat creation has the potential to improve agri-environment scheme outcomes for macro-moths. Journal of Applied Ecology, 53, 1814-1822. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1365-2664.12750

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