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Optimizing flower strips to promote biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services in agricultural landscapes

Published: 17 February 2021

Are you worried about the decline of biodiversity in agricultural landscapes? Do you want to contribute to a more sustainable agriculture? Do you like to work close with farmers and do you enjoy fieldwork? We have very exciting and interesting bachelor/master thesis/ internship opportunities for you!

Application deadline: 2021-05-01

Flower strips are a promising way to maintain farm diversity and enhance its ecosystem services, such as pollination, biological control and decomposition. However, still lots of research are needed to improve their design and discover their full potential.

We can offer a range of short term projects, both close to Uppsala and in Skåne:

  1. - Evaluation of flower species for insect diversity conservation and promotion of ecosystem services (1 position)
    In this project you will survey the visiting pollinators (hoverflies, bumblebees, wild bees, butterflies, etc.) and natural enemies (ladybirds, lacewings, predatory bugs, spiders, etc.) on 10 sown flower species (belonging to different families) in Uppsala.
    Surveys will be conducted from July to September, weekly. Floral area and groundcover will also be registered to correlate it with the presence of beneficial organisms. Driving license not necessary but appreciated. Survey period and frequency can be adjusted.

  2. - Evaluation of flower species for the promotion of below-ground ecosystem services (1 position)
    In this project you will evaluate the decomposition services and soil health associated with diverse insectary plants with the aim of optimizing flower strips. The assessments (litter bags and soil samplings) will be set up in Uppsala in June and September and followed by laboratory analysis. Driving license not necessary but appreciated.

  3. - Evaluation of biological control services provided by flower strips (3 positions)
    To become more sustainable, some farmers have started sowing flower strips next to their fields. This project wants to evaluate the contribution of these flower strips (perennial and annual) on promoting biological control. We will compare the influence the sown flower strip with a control in several farms in Skåne. The assessments will be conducted in May and/or June.

    You can choose among these three types of surveys:
    - Effect on groundcover predators: as an indirect measure of biological control you will work with pitfall traps, setting them in the field, collecting and identifying the captured insects. You will mainly work with beetles (predatory and seed feeders), spiders and other ground-dwelling organisms, that are walking across the soil surface.
    - Effect on aphid pests and their natural enemies: as an indirect measure of biological control you will conduct tiller counts to survey aphid colonies and their natural enemies present in the field adjacent to the strip/control. You will identify different aphid species and their natural enemies: young and adult stages of ladybeetles, lacewings, hoverflies and parasitoids.
    - Effects on biological control: as a direct evaluation of biological control you will prepare and place aphid cards in the fields (flower strips vs control). Driving license not necessary but highly appreciated

Application

Write an e-mail of interest to Elodie Chapurlat (elodie.chapurlat@slu.se) or Neus Rodriguez-Gasol (neus.rodriguez.gasol@slu.se) including a short CV and a couple of reference persons. Also precise if there is one or more specific projects you are interested in.

Facts:

Sveriges Lantbrunksuniversitet - Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

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