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Timothy Weekers

PhD Student — Doctorant

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

Tel: +32 (0) 473 50 13 93

Email: timothyweekers@gmail.com

Profile & curriculum

MSc in Bioengineering (2012-2016)

Research interests

  • Understanding the interrelationships between pollinator communities and their environment

  • Agroecological innovations and the evolution of alternative agricultural production systems

  • Urban landscape management for biodiversity

  • Tools and scientific outreach for decision makers on ecological and sustainable management

Research project

In a world with increasing urban areas and great ecological concerns, it is essential to understand how one can help wild pollinators to keep on thriving, when agricultural landscapes are simplified, lacking resources and habitats for all kinds of species. An interdisciplinary approach is necessary, and this is why we combine scientific, social, economic and ecological analytical approaches.

 

My research project will be focused on the impact of climate change on bee-plant interaction, by measuring the community and ecosystem services along a climate gradient. It is part of a bigger EOS project (FNRS/FWO) entitled "CliPS - Climate change and effect on Pollination Services" (2018-2021) in collaboration with the UGent (Profs. Guy Smagghe & Peter Vandamme) and the UMons (Prof. Denis Michez).

 

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 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. 

 

We propose to describe the bee communities associated to open field entomophilous crops along a spatial/climatic gradient spanning from the Mediterranean regions of Europe to the north of Belgium, and to develop an original dataset to associate bee community structure and diversity to the pollination services they provide for two of these crops: apple trees (spring crop) and sunflowers (summer crop). Along with that, we will investigate the links between climate and bee-plant interactions through literature surveys, existing databases on plant and bee traits, as well as data on geolocalised plant-pollinator networks.

A second task, but not the least, will be to explore how the plant-pollinator interaction can be disrupted in Belgium through climate change. By analysing existing databases and compare them with our results, we will investigate two ways of disruption: spatial and temporal; and also consider how the composition of the new bee community can match the crop flower in the size point of view.

PhD student (2017-present)

Publication

Hélène M. Hainaut, Timothy Weekers, Nicolas Leroy, Julien Boedts, Paul Emptaz, Victoria De Meue, Xavier Festré, Jean-Marc Molenberg, Yannick HOstie, Jérôme Henreaux, Marc Kerckhove, Alain Pauly, Laurent Jamar, Marc Lateur & Nicolas J. Vereecken, 2017. Can organic arable and silvoarable micro-farms contribute to biodiversity conservation? A survey of wild bees community structure in the Brabant Wallon province (Belgium). Conference Proceedings of the 2017 Belgian Agroecological Meeting (BAM), at Gembloux, Belgium, Volume: 6: 35-38

All publications are available upon request or through ResearchGate