Doctoral Training Partnerships(DTPs)

NERC - the Natural Environment Research Council

NERC is the leading funder of independent research, training and innovation in environmental science in the UK. Doctoral training partnerships (DTPs) provide excellent postgraduate research opportunities within the NERC science remit as well as varied professional and technical skills and personal development training.

DTP postgraduate training is delivered in collaboration with partners from a wide range of backgrounds including industry, specialist research organisations, charities, NGOs, government bodies and many more to ensure NERC DTP students are equipped with the skills and experiences to allow them to become world-leaders in their chosen careers.

DTPs are held by higher education institutions either alone or as a consortium with other eligible research organisations and partners. NERC doctoral training partnerships host NERC-funded, and potentially other, PhD students undertaking research in any area of the NERC science remit and will receive funding to support five cohorts of NERC-funded studentship starts between 2014 and 2018.

Bangor University is part of a NERC Doctoral Training Partnership with Lancaster and Nottingham Universities. Please visit NERC website here for more information.

Envision brings together a powerful group of UK researchers with 44 industry and NGO partners to provide a new generation of environmental scientists with the skills, knowledge and experience they need to take on the challenges of a changing world.

Funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), Lancaster University is leading the initiative which brings together the Universities of Nottingham and Bangor, the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, the British Geological Survey and Rothamsted Research. The initiative also involves large multinationals, a large number of SMEs and international research centres.

Applications for 2018 are now open.

The Envision online submission application form for 2018 projects is now live for students to submit their applications :

All applicants should make their application through the Envision website online application by Friday 13th July 2018.

Available Projects

Long distance drone tracking of key pollinators in agricultural and natural landscapes

Long distance drone tracking of key pollinators in agricultural and natural landscapes

Many plant species, including numerous agricultural ones, depend on pollinator services; yet agricultural intensification and urbanisation have caused habitat loss and fragmentation, leading to substantial declines of some pollinators. Any forecasts, risk assessments and remedies thus hinge crucially on understanding how pollinators use space; however, most studies of pollinator spatial movements have taken place over the extremely restricted areas that human observers can monitor – within flower patches in nature, or flight cages in the laboratory, or indirect measures such as the relatedness of individuals within a patch. Current harmonic radar tracking equipment, the most precise available technology to monitor individual insect movements in space, allows us to catch only glimpses of their spatial movements – it is severely constrained by the restricted range that can be covered, and the fact that individuals can only be tracked one at a time, in flat terrain. This study will use Bangor University’s revolutionary pollinator-tracking technology designed to follow honey and bumblebees across their entire foraging range in real time with high accuracy. Here we propose ground-breaking technological advances to make insect telemetry fit for the 21st century, to answer multiple fundamental questions about how pollinators operate in space, and to explore implications for the ideal spatial distributions for the plants they pollinate. The tracking-system is currently being validated and will be functional by Autumn 2018. By summer 2019 we expect to be able to track multiple individuals simultaneously using a fleet of autonomous drones communicating with each other.

The field-work will combine validated experimental spatial approaches developed at Rothamsted and QMUL, with Bangor’s novel tracking technique.

  1. Characterise the flight and foraging behaviour of B. terrestris and B. lapidarius, in a controlled experimental design at Henfaes Research Farm

  2. Quantify the minimum floral threshold required for pollinators to persist

  3. Identify key components of a managed landscape successful to bees.

The results from this ground-breaking PhD project shall provide essential information to land-managers planning the sustainable intensification of agricultural areas. Outputs are expected to generate papers in very high impact journals as this will be the first time science has managed to track pollinators in three-dimensional space in real time.

The outcome and objectives of this PhD proposal are complementary to Lars Chittka’s ERC Advanced Grant “SpaceRadarPollinator” exploring several fundamental research questions about insect pollinators with conventional radar tracking technology.

For enquiries, please email Dr. Paul Cross (, Dr. Jason Lim (, Prof Lars Chittka ( or Dr. Andy Reynolds (

Suitable candidates should have a class 1 honours degree in biological sciences or equivalent. Experience working with honeybees of bumblebees is strongly desired.

Species4Services – Which Species and Traits Best Indicate Ecosystem Services?

Species4Services – Which Species and Traits Best Indicate Ecosystem Services?

*******Application deadline – Friday 29th June 2018*******

Background: Ecosystem services (ES; the goods humans get from nature) such as crop production, carbon capture and livestock grazing are produced by complex interactions among biological species, human activities and the abiotic environment. Primary data characterising ES are rare and the biological component is poorly understood. Thus, ES decision-making often centres on landcover-based assumptions, a methodology with little relevance to biological processes and high levels of uncertainty. This shortcoming impacts several sectors of UK industry (e.g. energy & utilities, engineering & manufacturing, energy & utilities, environment & agriculture, transport & logistics etc) who are required by both UK and EU law to conduct environmental impact assessments on new developments, including understanding the impact on ES.

Aims & Objectives: Species4Services aims to quantify the relationships between species diversity and traits, and ES, providing a step-change in our understanding of how ES are derived from complex landscape-scale systems. We hypothesise that species characteristics provide a better proxy for ES than current landcover-based estimates. We will achieve our aim via the following objectives:

  1. Collate a pan-continental database of ES data

  2. Identify which indicator species can provide proxies for specific ES

  3. Identify which species traits can provide proxies for specific ES

  4. Contrast our new biologically-driven proxies against existing landcover-based estimates

Using ecological datasets, Species4Services will apply machine-learning techniques to identify novel relationships between ES production (e.g. biomass, grazing) and the species/traits from which these services ultimately derive. We will work closely with environmental consultancies to enhance capacity within two of the four Grand Challenges identified in the UK Industrial Strategy: clean growth (via improved environmental impact assessments), and artificial intelligence, machine-learning and the data-driven economy.

Please contact

All available projects are advertised here: