NERC GW4+ DTP PhD studentship: Pollinator plagues: the evolutionary ecology of shared infectious diseases in pollinator communities

University of Exeter - College of Life and Environmental Science

This project is one of a number that are in competition for funding from the NERC Great Western Four+ Doctoral Training Partnership (GW4+ DTP). 

At least 4 fully-funded studentships that encompass the breadth of earth and environmental sciences are being offered to start in September 2017 at Exeter. 

The studentships will provide funding for a stipend which is currently £14,296 per annum for 2016-2017, research costs and UK/EU tuition fees at Research Council UK rates for 42 months (3.5 years) for full-time students, pro rata for part-time students.

Honeybees and bumblebees are key pollinators of wild and agricultural flowering plants. Recently, it has become clear that these insects not only overlap in their ecology, but also share many infectious diseases (Fuerst et al. 2014, Manley et al. 2015), which can spread globally (Wilfert et al. 2016). This makes pollinators an excellent ecological model system for emerging diseases, but also potentially impacts how pollinators have to be managed and conserved. In this project, you will be able to study the ecological and evolutionary risk factors driving disease emergence and spread, as well as their impacts on pollinator communities at an ecological and evolutionary level. You will be part of a large collaborative inter-disciplinary research project studying the impacts of agri-environment schemes, designed to improve agricultural landscapes for pollinators, on emerging diseases in pollinators.

In this PhD, you will be trained in experimental ecology in the field and the lab and gain skills in molecular ecology, population genetics and phylogenetics. With your PhD, you will be able to address both fundamental questions on the evolutionary ecology of multi-host pathogen interactions, as well on the applied impacts of these interactions and how they can be mitigated. You will be primarily based at the University of Exeter's Penryn campus, but also spend time at NERC's Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) in Oxfordshire.

The closing date for applications is midnight on 6 January 2017.

Please see for full details on how to apply.

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