Postdoc in urban pollination

The Living Earth Collaborative at Washington University in Saint Louis sponsors a cohort of prestigious postdoc positions each year on ecology and conservation. This year, the program is inviting potential mentors to propose projects. Thus, we’re eager to hear for you if you’d like to apply for a postdoc position in urban pollination! Simply stated, we are interested in using a community science platform to design a project evaluating how best to design yards to enhance bee habitat. Broadly stated, this would be a group effort (= you + us) constructing a proposal. Want to be part of our team? Please read on!

General background

Given the scale and intensity of human-driven environmental change, the future of conservation rests largely in human-dominated landscapes. However, it is unclear how human land use decisions impact the underlying mechanisms that affect biodiversity. Depending on which mechanisms dominate in urban environments, different conservation actions may be more effective for supporting biodiversity than others. For instance, human-dominated landscapes tend to be more highly fragmented, resulting in smaller and more isolated habitat patches, which in turn may support lower species and interaction diversity. Alternatively, urban environments tend to be more heterogeneous than suburban environments, which may support higher species turnover and/or unique interactions, resulting in support of higher biodiversity. Our collaborative team is interested in understanding if and how urbanization affects the relationship between spatial scale, bee diversity and foraging behavior, and interaction structure. We are open to projects loosely in line with that goal and would welcome novel ideas and approaches for tackling them.

In 2020, we established the Shutterbee Citizen Science Program (Shutterbee.net) to engage the public in surveying bee foraging behavior in backyard and community gardens throughout the St. Louis region. Each year, roughly 120 citizen scientists monitor bees in a greenspace of their choosing. Survey locations occur along the exurban-urban gradient representing variation in the environmental landscape of the St. Louis. Since 2020, citizen scientists have recorded over 30,000 bee-plant interactions, providing a large foundational dataset on which to explore these ideas. In addition, we have a comprehensive reference collection for the city of St. Louis and historical records from nearby natural and residential areas that may be complementary, depending on the research question.

Contact information: Nicole Miller-Struttmann (nicolem42@webster.edu), Gerardo Camilo (gerardo.camilo@slu.edu), and Adam B. Smith (Adam.Smith@mobot.org)