Project proposal details

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Project title
ArcticBuzz: bumblebee-plant responses to climate change in Lapland
Contact name
Richard Gill
Project based at
Silwood Park (Imperial)
Project description
This proposed project will investigate the effects of climate change on the spatio-temporal dynamics of an insect pollinator community (bumblebees), and understand how such responses have an impact on the interaction with their mutualist host plants. This project will take place in one of the most vulnerable areas to climate change - the Arctic - whereby understanding the dynamics of a unique plant-pollinator system can provide early indications of the impacts of environmental change. The overarching goal is to investigate the population responses of multiple bumblebee species to environmental temperature. From this, we can measure rates of species and functional trait turnover in the community, and the impact this can have on the structure of the mutualistic plant-bumblebee networks over space and time. Multiple projects are available and can include a desk, lab or field-based. Desk-based projects will focus on developing models to test how changes in functional trait frequencies can alter plant-pollinator interactions. Lab work will use molecular barcoding techniques to construct well-informed weighted plant-pollinator networks and possibly undertake sibship analyses. Fieldwork will be conducted in Swedish Lapland sampling along a century-old phenological transect surveying bumblebee activity, measuring bee and plant functional traits, and collecting microclimate data across a thermal cline and resultant environmental gradient.
Additional requirements
If a field project, then must be physically fit as fieldwork is conducted on a mountain. Student must enjoy being outdoors.
Available support
The Gill lab will provide lots of support for the work on bumblebee ecology. The student will work closely with Aoife Cantwell Jones who is studying this system in depth as part of her PhD. Appropriate molecular facilities are available to support the lab work. For fieldwork, flights and accommodation will be covered. Your fieldwork will be based at a research station that can meet all your research needs.
Date uploaded

Project proposal limitations

The project proposer has indicated that there are some limitations to the availability of this project. It may only be available at certain times of year or suit a specific project length. It may also need skills taught to students on a particular course or courses.

Research project proposals are usually part of an active research programme. If supervisors have stated limitations to a proposal, then they are unlikely to have any flexibility. If you are very interested in the topic but have problems with the stated limitations, the supervisor may still be happy to talk to you about other options around the proposal, but you should not expect that any alternative arrangements can be made.

Project length limitations
5 months, 9 months
Available date limitations
Autumn (Sept-Oct), Winter (January), Spring (April-May)
Suitable for
Ecology Evolution and Conservation, Computational Methods in Ecology and Evolution (MSc), Computational Methods in Ecology and Evolution (MRes), Ecological Applications, Ecosystem and Environmental Change MRes, Biosystematics [NHM MRes]