Invertebrate behaviour


Friday, January 17, 2020 - 12:00


Computational and Analytical Sciences


Bangor University


Many plant species, including numerous agricultural ones, depend on pollinator services; yet agricultural intensification and urbanisation have caused habitat loss and fragmentation, leading to substantial declines of some pollinators. Any forecasts, risk assessments and remedies thus hinge crucially on understanding how pollinators use space; however, most studies of pollinator spatial movements have taken place over the extremely restricted areas that human observers can monitor – within flower patches in nature, or flight cages in the laboratory, or indirect measures such as the relatedness of individuals within a patch. Current harmonic radar tracking equipment, the most precise available technology to monitor individual insect movements in space, allows us to catch only glimpses of their spatial movements – it is severely constrained by the restricted range that can be covered, and the fact that individuals can only be tracked one at a time, in flat terrain. This study will use Bangor University’s revolutionary pollinator-tracking technology designed to follow honey and bumblebees across their entire foraging range in real time with high accuracy. Here we propose ground-breaking technological advances to make insect telemetry fit for the 21st century, to answer multiple fundamental questions about how pollinators operate in space, and to explore implications for the ideal spatial distributions for the plants they pollinate.

The field-work will combine validated experimental spatial approaches developed at Rothamsted and QMUL, with Bangor’s novel tracking technique.

  • - Characterise the flight and foraging behaviour of B. terrestris and B. lapidarius, in a controlled experimental design at Henfaes Research Farm
  • - Quantify the minimum floral threshold required for pollinators to persist
  • - Identify key components of a managed landscape successful to bees.

The results from this ground-breaking PhD project shall provide essential information to land-managers planning the sustainable intensification of agricultural areas.

Suitable candidates should have a class 1 honours degree in biological sciences. Experience working with honeybees of bumblebees is strongly desired.

For enquiries, please email Dr. Paul Cross, Prof Lars Chittka or Dr. Andy Reynolds

Applicants must have or expect to have, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree or the equivalent qualification gained outside the UK, in a relevant subject to the project they are applying for (these will be specified in the individual project descriptions).

The studentship is only available to UK and EU candidates. 

Each student will be supported by the tax-free stipend (£15,009 in 2019/20), typically for 3.5 years. In addition, for eligible students, the award will cover EU/UK fees

All Envision students will have a Research and Training Grant of £8,750 to fund their research, conference attendance and networking and will be able to bid into a cohort development and mobility fund. This will be support students attending subject-specific courses

All applicants should make their application through the Envision website by Friday 17th January 2020.

View the Envision application form here.

An application consists of:

A completed application form

A CV with a maximum of three pages

Application form

You may apply for up to three Envision projects, but this should be made clear when you submit your application through the project portal. Please do not apply for the same project more than once. You will need to upload a completed application form and CV for each project that you apply for (the three applications must all be in one single PDF). If you are applying for three projects please submit three CVs and application forms in one submission to us.

Please list your two referees on the application form. The project supervisor will get in touch with your referees after the deadline on Friday 17th January 2020. You do not need to do anything for this to happen.

Once received in the Envision office your application will be forwarded to the appropriate Envision supervisor who may want to interview you. Envision will offer interviewed candidates a £75 contribution to interview expenses.

If you are selected for the project you applied for, your application will then be considered, alongside those of the candidates for the other Envision projects by the Envision management group. Sixteen offers of fully funded studentships will be made by Envision by Monday 9th March 2020.

We will require candidates to accept or decline the offer of a studentship no later than 12pm, Wednesday 18th March 2020.

Please send all enquiries to: