Thesis topic: Effects of agricultural practices on the diversity of field margin beetles: applying approaches from metabarcoding and community ecology to large-scale biodiversity monitoring, Location : UMR CBGP – Montpellier, France, Start date : 1st octobre 2022
Summary of thesis work: This thesis aims to study the patterns of beetle diversity (both taxonomic and functional diversity) in agricultural field margins along a gradient of intensification of agricultural practices at the national level in France (ANR funding; AgriBiodiv project 2022- 2025). The thesis will benefit from a monitoring network that has been in place since 2012 (500-ENI network, with more than 500 plots monitored) to create a library of molecular barcodes for the application of a metabarcoding approach to identify the species of beetles associated with agricultural landscapes. This, combined with pre-existing surveys and data, will allow investigating the potential effects of agricultural practices on beetle diversity near field margins. This is part of a broader project that includes plant diversity as well, and a detailed survey of agricultural practices and landscape characteristics around sampling sites.
Coleoptera are a taxonomically and functionally diverse group, one that is often under-represented in large-scale monitoring efforts due to lack of taxonomic expertise. The hosting lab is an ideal setting to develop entomological expertise in this domain since there are several taxonomic and molecular biologists working on this topic. Here we will link high- throughput molecular identification with community composition and environmental factors affecting diversity (including agricultural practices).
We are therefore looking for a highly motivated student who can bridge the gap between high-throughput molecular identification of communities (methodological component), community composition (community ecology component), and agricultural practices in surrounding agricultural landscapes (agronomy component). This will require combining interpretations of molecular analyzes with large-scale statistical analyzes by applying knowledge in entomology, agroecology, molecular biology and statistical ecology. The candidate is expected to have strong skills in quantitative and community ecology, multivariate and spatial statistics, programming in R, and motivation to learn skills in entomology and molecular data analysis.
The student will be co-supervised by three researchers with complementary fields of expertise and based at the CBGP, on the outskirts of Montpellier: Christine Meynard (INRAe), Gael Kergoat (INRAe) et Julien Haran (Cirad). She or he will benefit from a vast network of collaborators in France, in the scientific field as well as in terms of agricultural management. The CBGP also has other taxonomic experts, a large entomological collection, a molecular biology platform, as well as computer resources, and all the means necessary for the successful completion of this thesis work. The candidate will have to join a collaborative and diverse working group; particular attention will therefore be paid to her or his ability to interact in a group under the basic principles of inclusion.
A more detailed description is available in French in the attached PDF, including a list of references that you can consult if you want to know more about the different topics that are pertinent to this work. Keywords: barcoding, biovigilance, beetles, community ecology, functional ecology, metabarcoding, agricultural practices.
Applications: To apply, please send me your CV, letter of motivation, grades from your masters, along with the names and contact information for three people who can be contacted for reference letters for you. In the subject line please use “application to thesis project”. The deadline is July 15th, and my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Note to foreign potential applicants: doctoral theses in France last 3 years and have very limited course components. The student is expected to already have a masters or equivalent degree before the start of the doctoral thesis. You can find more information on the doctoral school website here: https://gaia.umontpellier.fr/