Skip to main content

Spatio-temporal drivers of insect biodiversity and conservation


Key facts

Type of research degree
Application deadline
Ongoing deadline
Country eligibility
International (open to all nationalities, including the UK)
Dr Christopher Hassall
Additional supervisors
Dr Ryan Neely III, Dr Elizabeth Duncan, Professor Bill Kunin
School of Biology
<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Summary</h2>

This project on insect conservation and biodiversity is available to self-funded candidates only. <br /> <br /> The School of Biology invites applications from prospective postgraduate researchers who wish to commence study for a PhD in the academic year 2023/24.<br /> <br /> This opportunity is open to candidates who have the means to self-fund their studies or who have a sponsor who will cover this cost. We especially welcome applications that connect to our research group&rsquo;s core interests, which include insect conservation and diversity, aeroecology, radar ecology, ecological data science, pollinator ecology, urban ecology, biological education, or the public understanding of biodiversity research. <br /> <br /> We welcome applications from a broad range of potential applicants, whether coming from an ecological background or other disciplines. In particular, we would be interested in applicants with computational or mathematical backgrounds, who might be interested in work on large and complex datasets. We are also developing new research areas in technology-assisted teaching using immersive technologies that might interest applicants with educational backgrounds.

<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Full description</h2>

<p>Our current research programme includes several large projects on aspects of insect conservation. The BioDAR Project (<a href=""></a>/) is an ongoing project that is using weather radars to quantify the spatiotemporal patterns in insect abundance and diversity. There are many potential project questions within this developing research area, including (i) what are the key drivers of community resilience in insect abundance? (ii) how successful are environmental policies in conserving insect communities? and (iii) how best can we visualise and communicate big environmental data to support biodiversity conservation? There may also be an opportunity to investigate parallel trends in birds and bats using these techniques.</p> <p>The Drivers &amp; Repercussions of UK Insect Declines (DRUID) Project (<a href=""></a> is a large, UK Government-funded research project that is bringing together the current best practice in UK insect monitoring and conservation to establish the causes of declines. In DRUID, we have integrated our radar techniques alongside more conventional field sampling and economic/social valuation methods. Potential project ideas include (i) the development and integration of novel insect monitoring methods (bioacoustics, radar, citizen science) into national monitoring; (ii) social and cultural perspectives on insect declines; (iii) enhancement of insect community resilience in urban green/blue spaces.</p> <p>A third area of work that is emerging within the group is the link between public perceptions and attitudes towards insects, the cultural and educational context within which those attitudes are developed, and the consequences for public and policy support for insect conservation. Potential project ideas in this area could be (i) the role of entomological education in fostering an evidence-based enthusiasm for insect conservation; (ii) the use of technology to enhance entomological education and research; and (iii) the drivers of the development of attitudes to insects (and the wider natural world) in formal and informal educational settings.</p> <p>Our research group&rsquo;s work spans a wider range of topics that are linked by an interest in how and why the natural world is changing in response to human activities. Dr Christopher Hassall is an ecologist with an interest in ecology, entomology, evolutionary biology, and science education. Dr Elizabeth Duncan is a developmental biologist who studies the evolution and plasticity of animal development, and also works on pollinator ecology and conservation. Dr Ryan Neely III is a leading expert in the use of lidar to study clouds and aerosols in the atmosphere. His research has made significant contributions to our understanding of the role of clouds and aerosols in the Earth&#39;s climate system. Professor Bill Kunin&rsquo;s research interests include population and community ecology, plant-pollinator interactions, spatial ecology, and conservation biology.</p>

<h2 class="heading">How to apply</h2>

<p>If you are interested in applying for a project aligned with this research area, please contact Dr Christopher Hassall to discuss your project ideas.</p> <p>To apply for this project opportunity applicants should complete an <a href="">online application form</a> and attach the following documentation to support their application.&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li>a full academic CV</li> <li>degree certificate and transcripts of marks</li> <li>Evidence that you meet the University&#39;s minimum English language requirements (if applicable)</li> </ul> <p>To help us identify that you are applying for this project please ensure you provide the following information on your application form;</p> <ul> <li>Select PhD in Biology as your programme of study</li> <li>Give the full project title and name the supervisors listed in this advert</li> </ul> <p>If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University&#39;s minimum English language requirements (below).</p> <p><em>As an international research-intensive university, we welcome students from all walks of life and from across the world. We foster an inclusive environment where all can flourish and prosper, and we are proud of our strong commitment to student education. Across all Faculties we are dedicated to diversifying our community and we welcome the unique contributions that individuals can bring, and particularly encourage applications from, but not limited to Black, Asian, people who belong to a minority ethnic community, people who identify as LGBT+ and people with disabilities. Applicants will always be selected based on merit and ability.</em></p>

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">Entry requirements</h2>

Applicants to research degree programmes should normally have at least a first class or an upper second class British Bachelors Honours degree (or equivalent) in an appropriate discipline. The criteria for entry for some research degrees may be higher, for example, several faculties, also require a Masters degree. Applicants are advised to check with the relevant School prior to making an application. Applicants who are uncertain about the requirements for a particular research degree are advised to contact the School or Graduate School prior to making an application.

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">English language requirements</h2>

The minimum English language entry requirement for research postgraduate research study is an IELTS of 6.0 overall with at least 5.5 in each component (reading, writing, listening and speaking) or equivalent. The test must be dated within two years of the start date of the course in order to be valid. Some schools and faculties have a higher requirement.

<h2 class="heading">Funding on offer</h2>

<p>This project is open to applicants who have the funding to support their own studies or who have a sponsor who will cover these costs.</p>

<h2 class="heading">Contact details</h2>

<p>For further information about this project please contact Dr Christopher Hassall<br /> e: <a href="">,</a>&nbsp;</p> <p>For information about the application process please contact the Faculty Admissions Team:</p> <p>e: <a href=""></a></p>