PhD Studentship: Designing Landscapes to Support Pollination Services for the Soft Fruit Industry

University of East Anglia - School of Biological Sciences

Start Date: 1st October 2018

Supervisor: Dr Lynn Dicks

Project description: BerryWorld is the UK's leading soft fruit marketing company, sourcing raspberries, strawberries and blueberries from around the world for UK supermarkets. BerryWorld recognises pollination as a core element of sustainability for the business. This PhD project will work with them to develop a ‘blueprint for pollinator-friendly landscapes’.

Globally, pollinators are worth $235 to $577 billion per year for their direct contribution to production of crops, including many fruits, vegetables and oils. Approximately half of this pollination value comes from wild insects, many of which are declining in range and/or abundance. Effective conservation action to reverse these declines is needed, and agriculture is a key sector for taking action. This project is at the forefront of pollinator conservation, engaging agricultural industry in managing landscapes to support specific natural resources of direct value to their business through pollination.

The research has two overarching aims. First, to characterise what soft fruit pollinators need from the surrounding landscape. Second to quantify in the UK context how landscape management for pollinators compares, in cost-effectiveness, to planting wild flower strips on farms, or using purchased bumblebee colonies or honey bee hives to support pollination of soft fruit.

The research is interdisciplinary. The student will have the opportunity to learn pollination ecology, landscape ecology, mathematical modelling, DNA meta-barcoding and bioinformatics, and to use social science methods to investigate the costs and feasibility of manipulating landscape elements to enhance pollination. The project includes three months of industrial placement with BerryWorld, including one month working with soft fruit growers in South Africa.

This Industrial CASE project has been shortlisted for funding by the Norwich Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (NRPDTP). Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed as part of the studentship competition on either the 9th, 10th or 11th January 2018.

The Norwich Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (NRPDTP) offers postgraduates the opportunity to undertake a 4 year research project whilst enhancing professional development and research skills through a comprehensive training programme. You will join a vibrant community of world-leading researchers.

For further information and to apply, please visit our website: http://biodtp.norwichresearchpark.ac.uk/the-programme/industrial-case

Person specification: Students with, or expecting to attain, at least an upper second class honours degree, or equivalent, are invited to apply.

Funding notes: Full Studentships cover a stipend (RCUK rate: £14,553 pa – 2017/8), research costs and tuition fees at UK/EU rate, and are available to UK and EU students who meet the UK residency requirements.

Students from EU countries who do not meet the UK residency requirements may be eligible for a fees-only award. Students in receipt of a fees-only award will be eligible for a maintenance stipend awarded by the NRPDTP Bioscience Doctoral Scholarships, which when combined will equal a full studentship. To be eligible students must meet the EU residency requirements. Details on eligibility for funding on the BBSRC website: www.bbsrc.ac.uk/web/FILES/Guidelines/studentship_eligibility.pdf

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Type / Role:

PhD

Location(s):

South East England