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Yevheniia Shcheka is an IMAE student from Ukraine. She is part of the 2019-2021 IMAE edition and she choose to continue at the University of Coimbra (UC) to work on her thesis project: Evaluating the Impact of Sublethal Doses of Difenoconazole and Cypermethrin on Honey Bee Gut Microbiota and the Role of Biostimulation for Mediating Stress.

Nowadays, our planet is facing a steady insect  population decline and pollination by honey bees is threatened due to an increased environmental stress. Pesticide exposure, poor nutrition and habitat degradation are believed to be the main factors contributing to this decrease.

The gut microbiota, which contributes to host homeostasis, is altered by these stressors. By interacting with the environment, bees are exposed to accumulated pesticide loads and their microbiomes help by breaking the toxins and digestion. Therefore, a way to protect the host organism itself is by altering it's microbiome composition.

The goal of the research is to investigate how can the negative influence of pesticides be stopped by using probiotics - feeding mixture  supplied with two lactic bacteria species (Lactobacillus plantarum and Apilactobacillus kunkeei).


Research objectives:

  • Defining microbiota and analyzing its dynamics;

  • To compare how a fungicide and a bioinsecticide influence Honey bee microbiomes;

  • Biostimulation of microbial species by feeding honey bees lactic acid bacteria in order to negate the effects of a pesticide.

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Claire Vittaz is an IMAE student from France. She is part of the 2019-2021 IMAE edition and she is working on her Master Thesis project at the University of Coimbra (UC). The thesis, entitle "Assessing the impact of beekeeping for local self-reliance in the Buffer Zone of Gorongosa National Park", aims at assessing the impact of this community-based beekeeping program throughout the Park’s Buffer Zone. If the Honey Project meets its short to long-term goals, then, more and more local people could be engaged in the honey value chain. While promoting sustainable beekeeping practices, it must also enhance the comprehension of beekeepers towards their environment, promoting women inclusion as well as promoting stakeholders’ income during the seasonal cycle of beekeeping. Those can be divided in three main pillars around which this transdisciplinary study is constructed: economic, ecological and cultural.

The relation between bees and humans is as old as humans themselves. Humans realized they were able to derive numerous benefits from bees and their by-products, so the constant search for honey lead to the establishment of apiaries and honey bees domestication through their placement into hives. This millenary activity is now used to answer modern challenges such as enhancing and strengthening self-reliance in rural areas. Indeed, beekeeping has the advantages of being a low-cost practice that can be adapted to the environment and hives can be built with long-last and local materials which has a low environmental impact, if sustainably sourced. In addition, the spin-off of enhanced plant pollination by bees is an invaluable one, with pollination considered as one of the most important ecosystem services. By providing reliable high-value products that enables rural farmers to thrive in times of economic crisis, beekeeping allows for a certain degree of risk avoidance, besides being critical for their crops as pollinators. It is an alternate source of income and employment, hence promotes rural diversification if integrated with other farming practices. Beekeeping has also been proven to be a way to endorse gender mainstreaming and revenue for women empowerment. That is why the Honey Project was created in the Buffer Zone of the Gorongosa National Park. It aims at enhancing local livelihoods by promoting environmentally sustainable beekeeping practices with high-income potential for smallholder farmers.

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             Maria Luiza Carvalho is an IMAE student from Canada. She is part of the 2019-2021 IMAE edition and her master thesis will be a review of the scientific literature, with the supervision of a researcher of the Feredal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS). The thesis, entitle "Depredation of domestic animals by Pumas (Puma concolor) and Jaguars (Panthera onca) in Brazil: relationship with livestock herd size and human density",  will review articles published and indexed on databases - Web of Science, Scopus, and Scielo that focused on depredation of domestic animals by two species of large felids (Puma concolor and Panthera onca) in Brazil.


All studies published from 1980 to 2020 will be tabulated and information from each study (e.g., year, location, domestic species depredaded, etc) will be summarized in a spreadsheet. Data from livestock herd size, and from human density will be obtained from IBGE (Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatistica) for the location of each study and will be compared. For example, we expect to find more studies on felid depredation where we have larger livestock herd sizes and lower human density. The thesis aims to review and describe the spatial distribution of studies on depredation of domestic animals by large felids in Brazil, highlighting potential gaps of locations/regions without studies but within the range of the two large felids (IUCN distribution maps). Higher rates of density in human population and livestock herd size are expected to positively correlate with more depredation of domestic animals by Pumas (Puma concolor) and Jaguars (Panthera onca) in Brazil.

Stephen Gillanders is an IMAE student from Belfast and is part of the 2019-2021 IMAE edition.  Stephen's master thesis comes from a collaboration between the University of East Anglia (UEA), the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) and University of Coimbra, with additional collaboration from EMBRAPA in Brazil. The thesis, entitled "Landscape use and agricultural intensity impacts on earthworm assemblages across a tropical latitudinal gradient", will test the hypothesis: landuses with higher disturbance pre-dispose Brazilian landscapes to invasion by earthworms.

His work has taken samples from over 1300 sites across Brazil (6 done by Stephen himself) and analysing the patterns found within.
Stephen's research aims to provide an evidence-based ranking for which land-uses or management decisions can cause changes to the soil biota and to the invasability of a site, addressing three major issues in Brazilian and world environmental issues
I) conversion of land for agriculture and it's effects on native biodiversity
II) patterns and drivers of invasion of exotic species
III) land stewardship and how management can influence ecosystem integrity

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Janina Rathgeber is an IMAE student from Germany and she is part of the 2019-2021 IMAE edition.  Janinas's work is a collaboration between the Kiel University and the Feredal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS). The thesis title is "Evolutionary important bioregions in the Neotropic and their significance for conservation" and aims to discover "evoregions", which are evolutionary important bioregions (in other words: regions of diversification), for six major vertebrate groups in the Neotropic.

With help of species presence/absence matrices and their respective phylogenies, we will discover the evolutionary history and diversification of the different clades and whether there are regional overlaps among them. We expect to find phylogenetically unique regions (e.g Amazonia or the Atlantic Rainforest), which can be argued to play a crucial role in the future maintenance of biodiversity and must therefore be considered in conservation.

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         Adrián Hermira, an IMAE student from Spain, is part of the 2019-2021 IMAE edition.  He chose to spend his 2nd year at the Feredal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) to work on his masther thesis entitle "Crop damage by vertebrates in the Neotropical region: current knowledge and future management potential directions". With this work, Adrián will do a review of the available literature on crop damage by vertebrates in the Neotropics. The objective is to find which orders of vertebrates are the most associated with human-wildlife conflicts involving agriculture, as well as what crop protection techniques are used and how effective they are. The review will also shed light on information gaps on the matter and point to future research needs and management directions.

From the Netherlands, we have Frederique. She is part of the 2019-2021 IMAE edition and she chose to spend her 2nd year at Kiel University. Frederique's thesis work entitle "Effects of green infrastructure on the diversity of natural pest control agents in Alto Douro vineyards" was done in the Northern part of Portugal, in the Alto Douro region, known for its extensive vineyards and quality wine production.

In this thesis, Frederique is looking at four different types of green infrastructures in vineyards and their effect on the abundance and species richness of natural enemies of pest species, more specifically Coccinellidae, Chrysopidae and the abundance of wasps. Additionally she will examine the functional extent of the different green infrastructures into the vineyards.

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