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The Role of Wildflower Habitats in Promoting Pollinator Populations in Botanical Gardens and Public Open Spaces: A Network Approach, [Biosciences] - MbyRes (Funded, 2 years)

University of Exeter - Department of Biosciences

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Penryn
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: Home tuition fees, project costs and a tax-free stipend of £2,000
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 16th September 2021
Closes: 18th October 2021
Reference: 4198

Lead supervisor: Dr Christopher Kaiser-Bunbury, Centre for Ecology and Conservation, University of Exeter

Co supervisors: Dr Ros Shaw (University of Exeter), Dan James (The Eden Project), Juliet Rose (The Eden Project)

The University of Exeter’s College of Life and Environmental Sciences, in partnership with the Eden Project and the Garfield Weston Foundation, is inviting applications for an MbyRes studentship to commence in as soon as possible. The student would be based in Biosciences in the College of Life and Environmental Sciences at the Penryn Campus in Cornwall.

Project Description

In response to the global decline on pollinator biodiversity and abundance there is increasing interest in how we can make human dominated habitats support a greater diversity and abundance of pollinators.

This project provides the opportunity to investigate the impacts of wildflower meadows and pollinator friendly shrub and perennial planting on pollinator networks and visitation rates in botanical gardens and public open spaces. As much as is possible, the work will focus on interventions made by the National Wildflower Centre on projects developed at Eden and further afield, including Liverpool. It will involve carrying out pollinator surveys and potentially nectar and pollen analysis of plants commonly used in pictorial meadows in parks across Cornwall. In addition there is a long term plant-pollinator network data set collected in a botanical garden in Cornwall to be analysed. The data will be analysed using a network approach to establish which plants are most important for which pollinator groups and how network properties vary with the quantity and quality of resources available in the two settings.

The research will involve fieldwork and travelling between multiple fieldwork sites so a full driving licence would be desirable, or the ability to travel to field sites that may not be accessible by public transport.

Key references:

Baldock KCR, Goddard MA, Hicks DM et al (2019) A systems approach reveals urban pollinator hotspots and conservation opportunities. Nature Ecology & Evolution 3(3):363-373

Baldock KCR, Goddard MA, Hicks DM et al (2015) Where is the UK's pollinator biodiversity? The importance of urban areas for flower-visiting insects. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences 282(1803).

Hicks DM, Ouvrard P, Baldock KCR et al (2016) Food for Pollinators: Quantifying the Nectar and Pollen Resources of Urban Flower Meadows. Plos One 11(6)

Funding Details:

Home tuition fees, project costs and a tax-free stipend of £2,000

Students who pay international tuition fees are eligible to apply, but should note that the award will only provide payment for part of the international tuition fee. This is a 2 year, full time project, but can be carried out pro rata for part-time study.

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