PHD Project

October 11, 2022

Reclaiming the night sky for moths: what drives the flight-to-light response and how can this be mitigated?

Dumpy moth

Over the last 50 years, 33% moth species have declined in total abundance in Britain. This tragic loss of biodiversity is poorly understood, but artificial light at night (ALAN) has been shown to be a strong driver of change that disrupts moth reproduction, larval development, and pupal diapause. The successful student will conduct behavioural experiments on the flight-to-light response across UV to visible spectrum as well as assessing visual capabilities of moth eyes by determining the magnitude and speed of the photoreceptor responses. The culmination of this exciting project will be to take the evidence from those experiments and build a new bulb prototype, a real solution to reduce ALAN’s impact on biodiversity. Testing the bulb in the field will generate proof of concept that change is achievable and that declines are reversible. The team have expertise across ecology, insect behaviour, statistics and electronics and thus the student will be well supported throughout, whatever their background. We recognize that this is a multidisciplinary project and are thus looking for student in ecology or electronics engineering to tackle light pollution head on. For ecology students, they will be expected to conduct all experiments and to benefit from Nottingham’s expertise to design and build a new bulb prototype. For electronics students, they will be expected to build all the required engineering and to benefit from Rothamsted’s expertise in sampling and collecting moths. In either situation the student will be expected to show an interest in their non-specialist subject with continued support from the wider team.

A First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree in ecology, entomology, environmental biology  and/or electronics engineering or the equivalent qualification if gained outside the UK. An MSc/MEng is not essential but will be looked upon favourably.

For more information please contact James Bell (james.bell@rothamsted.ac.uk) or Ed Morris (David.Morris@nottingham.ac.uk).