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Assessing multiple pressures on seabirds

School of Environmental Sciences

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Dr J A Green , Dr L Robinson No more applications being accepted Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Seabirds are the world’s most threatened group of birds, facing threats from multiple anthropogenic activities in the marine environment, including renewable energy, fisheries, contaminants, plastics and climate change. While we have some understanding of individual and population vulnerability to each threat in isolation, to date, no attempt has been made to assess vulnerability to the cumulative effects of these. This is hindering our ability to make conservation and management decisions for seabirds.
Project objectives:
1. Using a test system such as kittiwakes or guillemots from the Isle of May Long Term Study, develop a method to combine exposure of seabirds to multiple pressures in time and space.
2. Using the same system, establish the relative severity of these pressures on a single unified scale.
3. Further to 1&2, develop a vulnerability assessment that combines exposure and severity and incorporates populations’ potential to recover, based on census data.
4. Apply the method developed to a larger scale (e.g. UK species and/or UK waters) and incorporate the implications of realistic management scenarios for key pressures.
Ours will be the first attempt to combine multiple datasets on seabirds and to develop and apply a methodology that can work at multiple scales, while incorporating variation in space and time that is inherent to these animals and their threats. Cumulative impacts on some species are already recognized and in the UK our partners JNCC urgently require an approach to meaningfully assess impacts across sectors to facilitate sustainable development, particularly in relation to offshore wind farms.

Candidates should be interested in marine conservation, spatial ecology and novel analytical approaches. Fieldwork experience is available during the project. Applications should consist of a CV and a cover letter in which you should describe how and why your interests and experience match the likely demands of this particular PhD.

Funding Notes

‘Competitive funding of tuition fee, research costs and stipend (£15,009 tax-free, 2019-20) from the NERC Doctoral Training Partnership “Adapting to the Challenges of a Changing Environment” (ACCE, ). ACCE – a collaboration between the Universities of Liverpool, Sheffield and York – is the only dedicated ecology/evolution/conservation Doctoral Training Partnership in the UK.’
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