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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Sustainable Agriculture PhD Studentships – Lancaster University, UK

Insect predators and parasitoids are crucial in driving population dynamics of herbivorous arthropods. As biological pest control agents they provide a valuable ecosystem service helping secure the production of safe and healthy food. However, in agro-ecosystems the effectiveness of predators and parasitoids can be severely constrained by a range of factors including the lack of alternative prey, floral resources, and suitable overwintering sites (Wäckers et al. 2005).

In ‘Functional Biodiversity Programs’ we seek to optimize ecosystem services, such as biological pest control by modifying the agro-environment in a way that removes or minimizes these impediments.

Further Information On Project:

In order to identify bottlenecks that limit the impact of biological pest control and to assess the success of ‘Functional Biodiversity Programs’ in alleviating these limiting factors, we need to be able to study the constraints that act upon individual predators and parasitoids under field conditions. Recently we have developed tools that allow us to better investigate energetic reserves, feeding history, reproductive success and age structure field collected predators and parasitoids.

Whereas the importance of alternative prey, floral resources, and winter refuge for predators and parasitoids has been widely recognized, we know very little about their respective role in enhancing natural pest control. Currently, field margins or set-asides often only provide a subset of these resources. This project will address the relative impact of individual resources on predator/prey and parasitoid/host dynamics in order to disentangle these factors and to identify the principal resource bottleneck in current agro-ecosystems.


References:

Olson D. & Wäckers F.L. (2007) Management of field margins to maximize multiple ecological services. Journal of Applied Ecology, 44, 13-21
Steppuhn A. & Wäckers F.L. (2004) HPLC sugar analysis reveals the nutritional state and the feeding history of parasitoids. Functional Ecology, 18, 812-819
Wäckers, F.L., van Rijn, P.C.J. & Bruin, J. (Eds.) 2005. Plant-provided Food for Carnivorous Insects: A Protective Mutualism and its Applications. Cambridge University Press, UK.

Stipend:

The project, which will commence in October 2009, is funded by the BBSRC and ADK, including fees (UK/EU) and stipend (£12,940/year)

Applications:

Informal enquires can be made to: Prof. Felix Wäckers (f.wackers@lancaster.ac.uk) Application forms are available from Laura Feinberg, Email: l.r.feinberg(AT)lancaster.ac.uk, Department of Biological Sciences, Lancaster University.

Closing Date: 15 September, 2009


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Scholarship Team: Ph.D Scholar Krisstofferson Joniel Scholarship Adviser, PhD Scholar Vitom Chea Scholarship Adviser, PhD Scholar Rebecca T. Dalisay Scholarship Adviser, Ph.D Student Jiao Wang Scholarship Coordinator, MSc Student Dennise Maricel Scholarship Coordinator
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Scholarship Team: Ph.D Scholar Krisstofferson Joniel Scholarship Adviser, PhD Scholar Chea Vitom Scholarship Adviser and Senior Lecturer, PhD Scholar Rebecca T. Dalisay Scholarship Adviser, Ph.D Student Jiao Wang Scholarship Coordinator, MSc Student Dennise Maricel Scholarship Coordinator