This action funds an NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Biology for FY 2020, Research Using Biological Collections. The fellowship supports research and training of the Fellow that will utilize biological collections in innovative ways. Given the ongoing global decline of pollinators and increased abundance of managed honeybees, understanding and predicting how plant-pollinator networks are impacted by honeybee invasion is paramount. The research will use emerging, cutting-edge approaches to investigate persistence in core network structure and shifts in species' roles over long periods of time and under invasion by honeybees. The Fellow will develop new technical skills by working with museum and herbarium specimens, novel molecular and statistical methods, and open-source data analysis. The Fellow will also develop leadership skills through academic and governmental collaborations, international and multi-disciplinary networking opportunities, formal leadership training, and mentoring. In addition, the Fellow will extend the research findings beyond the realm of academia by transforming this new scientific knowledge to inform honeybee management practices. Further, conducting this project in New Zealand is of particular importance, as there is growing pressure to place honeybee hives in natural areas, yet honeybee impacts on network structure and on plants and pollinators outside of the northern hemisphere are poorly understood. This research project will advance the fields of community ecology and pollination biology and inform management strategies for conservation and industry.
Specifically, the Fellow will use historical insect pollinator visitation data and specimens collected in the 1970s from four sites on the South Island of New Zealand and re-visit these sites to collect present-day data. The Fellow will use pollen DNA metabarcoding to enhance the pollinator visitation data and construct new, highly resolved plant-pollinator networks. Using statistical algorithms for detecting a core structure and characterizing species' roles within networks, the Fellow will test for the persistence of a core structure within and across these plant-pollinator networks spanning nearly 50 years, and test for shifts in species' roles following honeybee invasion. Further, this project will focus on key activities designed to: (1) Increase participation of underrepresented minorities in biology; (2) Inform honeybee management strategies for industry and conservation; (3) Share modern uses of historical collections through museum outreach events; (4) Donate new pollinator specimens and a pollen DNA reference database to NZ museums and herbaria; (5) Disseminate findings through conferences in the US and abroad and open-access publications; and (6) Develop a GitHub site to serve as an open-source teaching tool.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
|Effective start/end date
|1/1/11 → 8/31/24