Competition Funded Studentship

Faculty of Science

An integrated genetic approach to analysing the spatial ecology of bees and pollen (DTP 022 U13)               

Research Keywords:
Botany/Plant Science; Ecology and Conservation; Environmental Science; Evolution; Genetics 

Deadline: 1 March 2013.

Start Date: 1 October 2013.

Supervisory Team:
Primary: Prof Andrew Bourke

Secondary: Dr Tove Jorgensen

The Project:

Bumblebees are essential pollinators of crops and wild flowers yet basic knowledge concerning their spatial ecology remains patchy. This project aims to use genetic markers (microsatellites) to investigate simultaneously the spatial ecology of bumblebees and the pollen that they carry and so improve our knowledge of the key ecosystem service of pollination. Using established techniques in bumblebees [1-4] and plants [5], the student will, within selected plant-pollinator systems in the field, sample bumblebee DNA from foraging workers and plant DNA from the pollen borne on the coats of foraging workers and from the visited plants. He/she will then type samples at a panel of species-specific microsatellite markers and estimate from the genetic data a set of spatial ecological and genetic parameters for both the bees and the pollen. The systems studied will be selected from bumblebee-pollinated crops or wild flowers for which microsatellite markers exist for both the pollinating bumblebee species and the pollinated plant. The data will allow novel tests of the interrelationships between the spatial ecology of bumblebees and the plants that they pollinate, such as whether an association exists between the number of bumblebee nests sending workers to plants and the number of potential plant mates whose pollen each plant receives. The student will join an active, well-funded research group with experience of all techniques to be used in the project. He/she will receive training in pollination ecology, entomology, plant biology, population genetics, microsatellite genotyping, sampling design and data analysis. In addition, he/she will have the opportunity to conduct original science with the aim of securing sustainable ecosystem services for the benefit of biodiversity and people.

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In keeping with the postgraduate training policy of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) all students recruited onto this programme will be expected to undertake a three months internship during the second or third year of their degree. The internship will offer exciting and invaluable experience of work in an area outside of research, and full support and advice will be provided by a professional team from the UEA.

Suitable applicants will be interviewed as part of the Studentship Competition.  The interview date will be Monday 18th March 2013.

Entry Requirements:

A first or upper second class UK honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in an appropriate area of science or technology.

The 4-year BBSRC DTP studentship offers full funding to UK nationals and EU nationals who have resided in the UK (in full-time education or full-time residency) for 3 years prior to the start date of the studentship. In most other cases EU nationals will receive funding to cover their tuition-fees only. The current stipend for 2012/13 is £13,590 per annum.

See BBSRC eligibility:

Making Your Application: Please apply via the University’s online application system.   To discuss the application process or particular projects, please contact the: Admissions Office, email: or telephone +44 (0)1603 591709. 

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