field work


The Rader Lab at the University of New England, Armidale are investigating the efficiency of individual wild pollinators and the diversity of insect communities in melon fields and mango orchards in the Northern Territory and Queensland. 

Four temporary field technician positions are available for approximately 3.5 months, starting around mid-May and ending around the end of August 2018. These four field technicians will use field and lab techniques to assess pollinator efficiency and diversity in watermelon fields and mango orchards in the Darwin, Katherine, and Cairns areas. The team will primarily conduct hand-netting and observations of pollinator species, focusing on native bees, butterflies, flies, and wasps.  The team will also collect pollen samples from plants and insects, plant samples for identification, and weather and geographical information. See more about our research at

Applicants with un-restricted availability and an inclination for travel to all three locations will be highly considered. However, please apply even though you may be available for 1 – 2 months as our schedule is somewhat flexible. Travel to field sites, field lodging, and food will be provided during the field season. The field housing is close to major towns, where field workers can shop and enjoy a nice café on their days off. Field workers should be prepared to have limited mobile phone and internet access during field work. An internet hotspot is provided and is available at all field accommodations. Mobile phone service is generally reliable at the accommodations as well.


-   Strict adherence to biosecurity and safety procedures on large farms

-   Field monitoring and collection of pollinators

-   Processing insect specimens in the lab including pinning bees and labeling samples

-   Preparing and slide mounting pollen samples

-   Data entry into Excel spreadsheets

*Desired Qualifications*

-   Ability to be trained and take instruction in field and lab settings

-   Previous field or lab experience with a diverse group

-   Attention to detail and willingness to take leadership of and responsibility for their work

-   Highly motivated and able to work independently

-   Basic computer skills (Word, Excel)

-   Ability to remain upbeat and patient in hot, dry, and uncomfortable conditions

-   Valid Drivers License with 4WD certification*

-   Valid First Aid Training*

*Applicants will be enrolled in a 4WD and/or a First Aid course at UNE if not already certified.

*Beneficial Qualifications*

-   Previous experience with pollinators, especially native bees, and/or monitoring other insect populations

-   Previous field experience in agricultural areas

-   Experience living in remote locations for extended periods


To Apply: As a single PDF, send a brief cover letter explaining why you are interested in this position and details of your availability, a resume, and names and contact information for two references to: Lindsey Kirkland, Please place “Seasonal Hire” in the subject line of the email. Review of applications will begin immediately and will continue until the positions are filled.

Summer research in the Australian Alps!

Rader Lab Honours student Emma Goodwin is spending January enjoying peak wildflower season in Kosciuszko National Park. Emma is supervised by Romina and Manu, as well as Francisco Encinas-Viso and Juanita Rodriguez from CSIRO in Canberra.

Emma is investigating pollinator networks in the Australian alpine region near Charlotte Pass, Kosciuszko National Park. The project involves insect visitor observations to explore the interactions between alpine flora and pollinators. Pollen from visitations will be sampled to look at both the quantity and diversity that specific insects are carrying. This will contribute to a greater understanding of pollination ecology of alpine Australia.

After her stint on top of Australia, Emma will return to Canberra to analyse some data with her CSIRO colleagues, and then back to UNE Armidale in March to write up her honours thesis. Stay tuned for more of her project!


Watermelon pollinators

Access to watermelon farms has been very restricted in the Northern Territory with the recent mosaic virus scare. We are lucky to partner with some farmers around Katherine to study the insect community on their farms this year. We've seen native bees, flies, and of course honey bees on watermelon so far! Looking forward to studying this crop more in the coming years.

A closer look at mango stigmas

Testing stigma receptivity in the field can be tricky, but it is important component of pollination ecology projects. To test mango stigma receptivity, we collect mango flowers and submerge their stigmas in hydrogen peroxide. If the stigmas are receptive, they will produce bubbles rapidly. As receptivity falls so does the rate of bubble creation.


Mango pollination road trip

Some of the Rader Lab team are in sunny Katherine in the Northern Territory for the mango flowering season! The team, including Lindsey, Amy and new honours student Brent, will be identifying mango pollinators and working out pollination efficiency for different insect species. The team then head off to North Queensland to do it all again. Stay tuned!

Bees and blueberries

Some of the Rader Lab team, led by PhD student Liam, are working in the blueberry growing region on the beautiful north coast of New South Wales coast as part of our fruit crop pollination project. The evergreen blueberry varieties here are in flower from April through to June/July. The main purpose of this field work is to establish a link between pollinator efficiency (floral visit number and composition - including species order) and fruit set and quality. We have also been assessing bee and hoverfly diversity in and around blueberry farms. So far we have found roughly 15-20 bee species in the vicinity of blueberry farms. Interestingly, these bees (including native blue-banded bees, teddy bear bees and leaf-cutter bees) have no interest in blueberry flowers – instead they love the flowering weeds (eg. farmer's friend Bidens pilosa)!