Quantifying dispersal ability and how organisms navigate through the environment is an essential step required to predict how individual species will cope with land use changes. There is a growing desire to ensure that intensive land use practices are designed in a way that maintains stable populations of pollinators. While the field of movement ecology has been revolutionised by the advent of ever-lighter GPS tracking devices, smaller animals such as pollinating insects have yet to benefit from this technological revolution. Working under the supervision of collaborators from Rothamsted Research, Bangor University and Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) this PhD program aims to overcome the shortfall in knowledge about pollinator dispersal. Firstly, the student shall use the flight mill system at Rothamsted Research to infer the flight abilities of a range of solitary bees, bumblebees and honeybees during different phases of their lifecycle. Then, with the advent of a novel lightweight radio transponder tracking system developed by Dr Paul Cross’ team at Bangor University, the student shall use a UAV to follow bumblebee queens over long distances in the field during the critical dispersal phase of their life cycle. The student will be one of the first researchers to use this innovative new tracking system. The PhD candidate will be expected to present their research at conferences and workshops, as well as publish at least one journal article per year. They shall be provided expert training in experimental design, analysis and publishing from their main supervisors at Rothamsted Research and Bangor University, as well as their collaborators at QMUL. The student will undertake a Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) certified UAV pilot licencing course, allowing them to pilot UAVs commercially in the UK. The skillsets obtained during this ground-breaking PhD position will prepare the candidate for a career in movement ecology.
Applicants should hold a minimum of a UK Honours Degree at 2:1 level or equivalent in subjects such as Ecology, Biology, Environmental Science, and Agriculture.