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ACCE DTP fully-funded project: Examining biodiversity benefits of UK treescapes


   Department of Biology


York United Kingdom Climate Science Ecology Plant Biology Zoology

About the Project

Lead Supervisor: Prof. Jane Hill (University of York Department of Biology)

Co-supervisor:  Michael Pocock (CEH), Dr Colin Beale (University of York Department of Biology), Chris Nichols (Woodland Trust)

The student will be registered with the Department of Biology.

Background

Commitments to reduce carbon emissions to reach net-zero have raised awareness of nature-based solutions provided by trees, and UK treescapes are key to helping the UK government reach its carbon targets and support biodiversity recovery. This project will examine the biodiversity benefits of UK treescapes, focusing on the resilience of ecological networks of woodland species, and how these networks may be affected by future changes in climate and treescape connectivity due to woodland creation schemes.

Objectives

Taking a UK-wide perspective and focusing on priority landscapes, the project will capitalise on extensive data sets mapping distributions of UK animal and plant taxa associated with treescapes to:

(1) Construct plant-herbivore-predator networks and examine how networks are affected by treescape connectivity, woodland quality and tree species composition;

(2) Explore how future scenarios of treescape change (e.g. woodland creation and restoration) and climate warming alter animal and plant distributions;

(3) Project future changes in the resilience of ecological networks and hence determine the role of treescapes to support nature recovery.

Novelty & Timeliness

The project will involve analysing species occurrence records and land-cover data using novel spatial modelling and analytical methods to examine changes in treescape ecological networks. There will be opportunities for field work to test project findings. The PhD will complement a larger UKRI-funded project on treescapes, benefitting from collaborations with interdisciplinary project partners. Findings will provide information for Woodland Trust’s priority areas for woodland creation on the biodiversity impacts of treescape changes. Carbon net-zero commitments and policies for woodland creation provide opportunities for biodiversity net gain, making it vital to determine relationships between UK treescapes and the biodiversity they support. The student will join a friendly and collaborative inter-disciplinary research group within York’s Leverhulme Centre for Anthropocene Biodiversity.

The ACCE DTP and the University of York are committed to recruiting future scientists regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, disability, sexual orientation or career pathway to date. We understand that commitment and excellence can be shown in many ways and we have built our recruitment process to reflect this. We welcome applicants from all backgrounds, particularly those underrepresented in science, who have curiosity, creativity and a drive to learn new skills.

Entry Requirements: Students with, or expecting to gain, at least an upper second class honours degree, or equivalent, are invited to apply. The interdisciplinary nature of this programme means that we welcome applications from students with backgrounds in any biological, chemical, and/or physical science, or students with mathematical backgrounds who are interested in using their skills in addressing biological, ecological or evolutionary questions. 

Programme: PhD in ACCE (4 years)

Start Date: 1st October 2022 (the student will be registered with the Department of Biology)

Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed in the w/c 21 February 2022


Funding Notes

This project is part of the NERC ACCE Doctoral Training Partnership. Appointed candidates will be fully-funded for 3.5 years. The funding includes:
Tax-free annual UKRI stipend (£15,609 for 2021/22 starts)
UK tuition fees (£4,500 for 2021/22)
Research support and training charges
We aim to support the most outstanding applicants from outside the UK and are able to offer a limited number of bursaries that will enable full studentships to be awarded to international applicants. These full studentships will only be awarded to exceptional quality candidates, due to the competitive nature of this scheme.

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