Semester 1: Literature review and training on experimental approaches including designing behavioural tests and working with captive bees. Two-month residence at the University of St Andrews with co-supervisor Prof. Healy.
Semester 2: Behavioural experiment 1: Can bees that do not usually buzz-pollinate learn to deploy vibrations on flowers? Test whether male bumblebees can be conditioned to produce vibrations to access rewards.
Semester 3-4: Behavioural experiment 2: Can other insects that do not usually buzz-pollinate learn to deploy vibrations on flowers? Test whether hoverflies can learn to vibrate to access floral rewards. Hoverflies deploy vibration behaviours in other contexts but little is known about their cognitive abilities and capacity to use novel behaviours to access rewards. Attendance to a UK-based scientific conference.
Semester 5: Physiological experiment 1: Test the hypothesis that buzzing incurs in high physiological costs. Measure metabolic activity of buzzing bees across different temperatures.
Semester 6: Behavioural experiment 3: To what extent is buzz pollination a specialised behaviour within a bee colony? Study variation within bumblebee colonies in ability to buzz-pollinate (among female workers). Does specialisation in buzz-pollination comes at a cost in the ability to visit and extract floral rewards from other floral types? Attendance an international conference on behavioural biology.
Semester 7: Design a public engagement activity to disseminate the findings of the PhD project to a broader audience. Present the activity as part of the Edinburgh Science Festival or similar event. Dissertation write-up.