Profile of Abigail Lowe
- Abigail Lowe
- PhD Student
- School of Biological Sciences, Bangor University, Deiniol Road, Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57 2UW
I am a KESS II student in my first year of studying the foraging habits of wild pollinators. I have a passion for wildlife and the environment, with a particular interest in how we can study plant and pollinator genetics to tackle issues such as population decline and food security. My interest in plant genomics was apparent throughout my module selections at university, but was reaffirmed during my year in industry at the National Botanic Garden of Wales, where I learned a range of molecular techniques, encouraging me to pursue a career in research.
2017 – Present: PhD student, Bangor University, based at the National Botanic Garden of Wales
2012-2016: BSc (Hons) Biology, University of Southampton
2015: Conservation and Research intern at the National Botanic Garden of Wales
PhD project title: Investigating the value of gardens for providing floral resources to pollinating insects
My PhD project aims to investigate which plants pollinators use and the extent to which these can be provided within gardens and urban amenity areas. I will be focusing on discovering the foraging preferences of bumble bees, solitary bees and hoverflies when faced with an array of resources. Pollen will be firstly be collected from these wild pollinators, followed by DNA extraction and sequencing to identify the plant species the pollen originated from.
This project follows previous work undertaken during my year in industry at the National Botanic Garden of Wales, during which I was part of the team that piloted a successful project aiming to analyse the foraging patterns of honey bee colonies. We discovered that the honey bees were in fact only utilising 11% of the food sources available to them at the time of analysis (April and May). These results suggest that honeybees use a wide taxonomic range of plants but actually make use of only a relatively small number of plant species.
This complementary project will explore whether wild pollinators adopt a similar foraging strategy or whether there is interspecific and taxonomic partitioning of the floral resource. The results of this project will provide recommendation to gardeners and landowners on how to manage land in order to increase pollinator populations and prevent further decline.
Principal supervisor of project:
Dr. Natasha de Vere (National Botanic Garden of Wales)
Co-supervisor(s) of project:
Prof. Si Creer (Bangor University)
Dr. Matt Hegarty (Aberystwyth University)
KESS II Studentship
de Vere, N., Jones, L.E., Gilmore, T., Moscrop, J., Lowe, A., Smith, D., Hegarty, M.J., Creer, S. and Ford, C.R. 2017. Using DNA metabarcoding to investigate honey bee foraging reveals limited flower use despite high floral availability. Scientific Reports 7, Article number: 42838. doi:10.1038/srep42838