PhD Student - Doctorant
Prof. Nicolas J. Vereecken's research group at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Belgium.
Tel : +32 (0)485 568 816
E-mail : email@example.com
Profile & curriculum
Bsc in biological sciences – ULB (2015-2018)
Msc in biology of organisms and ecology – ULB (2018-2020)
PhD student (2021-present)
Sustainable resource use and agricultural development in sub-Saharan Africa
Ecosystem services and floral resources provided by tropical pollinators
Understanding the impact of climate and land use change on wild bees habitat suitability
The general objective of my research is to explore the ecology and evolution of afrotropical stingless bees (Hym. Apidae, tribe Meliponini), the least known of all stingless bees to date. This project is funded by the Belgian National Fund for Scientific Research, in collaboration with the International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe, Nairobi, Kenya) and China Agricultural University (CAU, Beijing, China).
Stingless bees constitute a group of honey-producing bees within the family Apidae. Stingless bees honey is used by rural communities in tropical, subtropical and savanna regions. Beyond its use as food, honey have many properties from its potential as a bio-monitoring to medicinal use. However, most research on stingless bees honey has concentrated on South America and Australasia and very little information is available on honeys produced by afrotropical species. We propose to narrow this gap by investigating the physical chemical properties of African stingless bees honey compared to honey produced by the Western honeybee, Apis mellifera. A second task will be to characterize changes in honey characteristics according to species, location, environment and climate variables.
Besides the production of honey, stingless bees play also an important role in the pollination for both crops and wild plants. Considering their economic and ecological importance, it is a pressing issue to gain knowledge about these pollinators in sub-Saharan Africa. We will identify the host plants of African stingless bees for the collection of pollen and nectar using innovative PCR-free pollen identification method. Our goal is to characterize the spatial and evolutionary pattern of host plants use by stingless bees to provide a better understanding of what vegetation is required to support such species and the pollination services they provide to neighbouring crops.
Finally, we will identify the drivers behind the current distribution of stingless bees and investigate how climate and land use change could potentially affect their biodiversity and disrupt their role as pollinators. Our hypothesis is that the distribution of sub-Saharan African stingless bee genera and species is significantly affected by climatic and land use/land cover variables, and that changes in these variables might lead to distributional shifts. An estimated 35,000 published and unpublished occurrence records of African stingless bees will be mobilized alongside environmental data and host plants distribution in a joint species distribution model approach.