Dr Richard Davies, UEA
Dr Martin Taylor, School of BIO, UEA
Dr Lynn Dicks, School of BIO, UEA
Intensive agriculture is a key driver of declines in pollinating insect diversity, abundance and pollination services. Ecological intensification to mitigate effects of agriculture has focused largely on restoring semi-natural habitats 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 managed woodland patches upon pollinator diversity, abundance and pollination services (2).
Wild bees and hoverflies are dominant pollinator groups temperate terrestrial ecosystems (3). While the preference of bees for wildflower species is well-established, their reliance on trees for foraging resources is less well-studied. Woodlands are known to provide among the highest levels of nectar production for a major UK habitat. Recent evidence suggests that use by pollinating insects of tree species is disproportionate to the abundance of woodland and trees in the landscape (4). Management of woodland tree species composition also influence other plants, with consequences for pollinators (5). Woodlands and woody corridors (hedgerows) in landscapes provide nesting and larval microsites for some bumblebee and hoverfly species, respectively.
This exciting project will combine community and molecular ecology approaches to investigate the role of woodlands in influencing the abundance and diversity of pollinating insects, and the temporal stability of floral resource provision, in agricultural landscapes. Understanding the influence of landscape management of woodland and woody corridors on pollinator assemblages and services in farmland, is the main rationale underpinning the project.
Research methodology (role of the student) and training
The student 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 bulk insect samples; computational and statistical methods in community and landscape ecology using R and ArcGIS software; preparation of outputs for publication.
We seek an enthusiastic and 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 student will be liaising with farmers.