Nocturnal pollinators in agro-ecosystems

This project is available from the academic year 2025/26 onwards.

Theme: Biodiversity, Ecology & Conservation

Primary Supervisor:

Jan Axmacher

Geography, UCL

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Secondary Supervisor:

Carl Sayer

Geography, UCL

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Project Description:

In recent years, pollination has been increasingly recognised as a key ecosystem service, as for example exemplified by its status in the upcoming IPBES report. Nonetheless, past research in this field has focused almost exclusively on diurnal species like bees, bumblebees and hoverflies. Nocturnal pollinators like many species of nocturnal moths or some beetle species have in the meantime been widely overlooked, and their importance and effectiveness remains very poorly understood.

Your PhD will aim to address some of the prevailing knowledge gaps in investigating nocturnal pollinator assemblages in agro-ecosystems. The primary focus will be on selected fruit orchards located in East Anglia. Your research will comprise a combination of direct pollinator observations and filming of nocturnal pollinator flower visits, pollinator exclusion experiments with measurements of the resulting fruit and seed set, as well as light trapping of nocturnal pollinator assemblages with subsequent analysis of pollen loads.

Policy Impact of Research:

The results will help farmers and policy-makers alike to appreciate the role of nocturnal pollinators, hopefully leading to enhancements in the protection and management of their assemblages.

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