Dr Martin Taylor (School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia)
Dr Lynn Dicks (Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge)
Intensive agriculture is a key driver of declines in pollinating insect populations and pollination services. Ecological intensification to mitigate these effects has focused largely on restoring field-scale semi-natural habitat including florally enhanced field margins (1). However, provision of pollination services on farmland is also dependent on wider landscape context, with relatively little attention being paid to the influence of woodland patches upon pollinator communities (2).
Uncertainty remains over which plant species are the most valuable food resources for pollinator species, and how their relative value varies seasonally (3). While the benefits to bees of grassland-associated wildflowers is well-established, the complementary role of trees and woodland as pollinator resources is less well-studied in agricultural landscapes. Woodlands can provide among the highest levels of nectar production for a major UK habitat, and the use of tree species by pollinating insects may be disproportionate to the abundance of woodland in the landscape (4). Woodland tree species composition also influences other plants, with consequences for pollinators (5). Woodlands and woody corridors in landscapes provide nesting and larval microsites for a range of pollinator species.
This exciting project will combine community and molecular ecology approaches to investigate the role of woodlands in promoting the abundance and diversity of pollinating insects, and temporal stability of floral resource provisioning, in agricultural landscapes. Understanding the influence of landscape management of trees within woodland and woody corridors, on pollinator assemblages and services in farmland, provides the rationale for this project.
The candidate will carry out and receive training in: design and implementation of field-sampling of pollinating insects; morphological taxonomic methods for pollinator insects; use of DNA metabarcoding for identifying pollinator species from insect samples; computational and statistical methods in community and landscape ecology using R and ArcGIS software; preparation of outputs for publication.
We seek a versatile scientist with a strong interest in community and landscape ecology and/or field entomology and botany. Experience of molecular ecology methods is highly desirable, although training will be given. Excellent people skills are needed for this position as the candidate will be liaising with farmers.