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Cian White


Cian graduated with a B.A. (Hons) in Zoology from Trinity College Dublin in 2017. His primary interests are community assembly theory, biodiversity and ecosystem function and ecosystem services and natural capital. He is currently undertaking his PhD under Prof. Jane Stout and Dr. Marcus Collier. Cian is interested in integrated basic research in an applied context to deliver ecosystem services and conservation of biodiversity.

PhD project: Evidence based measures for the conservation of biodiversity and provision of ecosystem services.

Cian is interested in the interaction between people and the environment and how sustainable this interaction is. By harnessing the benefits provided by nature (ecosystem services) to manage societal challenges Nature-based Solutions can be created. Nature-based Solutions are a new concept which seek to integrate ecology, engineering, economics and sociology, yet the language used to define Nature-based Solutions is vague and unworkable. This hampers the very power of the concept, it’s transdisciplinary approach. A more holistic and robust conceptual synthesis is needed, with the science of ecology and the economic evaluation of ecology, natural capital, forming the core of a problem management strategy, the Nature-based Approach, of which Nature-based Solutions are a component.

For the remainder of the PhD Cian will focus on one aspect of the ecology of Nature-based Solutions. Given the importance of pollination as an ecosystem service and the increasing use of novel habitats aimed at conserving pollinator species in anthropogenically dominated landscapes, pollinator assemblages will be the focal community of study. Cian is interested in describing the patterns of community assemblages and uncovering the processes driving these patterns along gradients of anthropogenic disturbance (urbanisation and intensive agriculture). By understanding the underlying ecology, he hopes to be able to test whether the provision of novel habitats can contribute towards conservation of biodiversity, provision of ecosystem services and ultimately the creation of Nature-based Solutions.

The project will be conducted in Dublin county, with the major land uses of intensive agriculture, urbanisation and semi natural areas allowing comparison between gradients of anthropogenic disturbance (semi natural – intensive agriculture vs semi natural – urban). Expected outcomes will be an increased understanding of how pollinator communities assemble along gradients of human disturbance (basic research) and testing biodiversity measures aimed at conserving pollinators and boosting pollination services i.e. evidence-based measures (applied research).


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  • TCD Postgraduate Studentship and Connecting Nature.