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Nicolas Leclercq

PhD Student - Doctorant

Prof. Nicolas J. Vereecken's research group at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Belgium.

Tel: +32 (0) 474 26 34 53

Email: nleclerc@ulb.ac.be

Profile & curriculum

MSc in Bioengineering - Agricultural Sciences (2013-2017)

Research project engineer (2018)

PhD student (2018-present)

Research interests

  • Plant-pollinator networks and the effects of competitions taking place in those networks

  • Agroecological innovations and the evolution of alternative agricultural production systems

  • Urban biodiversity and urban green spaces management for biodiversity and human well-being

Research project

My PhD is part of a large EOS project (FNRS/FWO) called CliPS (Climate change and its effects on Pollination Services) (2018-2021) in collaboration with the UMons (Prof. Denis Michez) and the UGent (Profs. Guy Smagghe and Peter Vandamme).

 

This project aims to better understand the impact of climate change on pollinators and their services. Our hypothesis is that pollinator communities are deeply impacted by climate in their composition and structure. Future increase of temperatures will stress to various extents the processes driving species composition. Climate change acts at regional scale, but also interacts with changes in LULC (Land Use and Land Cover) (i.e. agriculture practices and landscape management). Our project provides several important novelties in proposing an integrative approach combining the development of new models (i.e. wild bees) and explicit tests using existing databases.

My thesis focuses on the large-scale patterns and drivers of bees facing climate change. A first part of my project consists in analysing existing data on wild bees distribution, according to the IUCN Red List of threatened species. We investigate how bee species richness, functional (i.e., traits) diversity and phylogenetic diversity are impacted by a series of landscape variables in Europe. Geospatial analyses then allow to compare the community distribution with LULC, biogeographic regions, biotic and abiotic factors. The results will highlight the extent to which current and future conservation policies are in line with the ecological requirements of wild bees at the EU scale.

The second and the main part of my thesis is the study of the apple pollination at a worldwide scale. To do so, I have built a network of more than 40 partners located in apple production regions around the world. It represents a total of 200 orchards to be sampled in 2019. At first, I will investigate the patterns of bee communities associated to apple trees, while considering climatic and (bio)geographical variables (temperature, LULC, vegetation, apple varieties, crop management, etc.). Then, further models based on future climatic scenarios will be simulated in order to estimate the predicted distributions of each species at a global scale.