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(BBSRC DTP) Wildlife and livestock disease and microbiome dynamics in conservation landscapes

Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences

About the Project

Human populations have grown exponentially across sub-Saharan Africa over the past century. To provide sufficient and secure food resources for this growing population, there has been large-scale conversion of wildlands for agriculture and pastoral use. Wildlife and livestock are increasing managed in mixed-communities, with frequent interactions around scarce resources such as water. Although this can provide a sustainable future for both wildlife and livestock, it also leads to increased interactions between wildlife populations and domestic animals. These interactions have the potential to impact on disease, parasite and microbe transmission dynamics. However, we currently do not have a clear understanding of how widespread or severe these impacts are. This project will involve working with reserve managers, local populations and researchers in the Laikipia Plateau in Kenya to understand the dynamics, and impact, of gastrointestinal parasite transmission between livestock and wildlife. The student will be based at the University of Manchester in partnership with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the Smithsonian institute and will conduct field work based at Mpala Research Centre in Laikipia. The main objectives of the project will be to: 1) characterise gut microbiome community composition and gastrointestinal parasite infection patterns in livestock (cattle, sheep and camels) and wildlife populations using genetic meta-barcoding, 2) evaluate the impact of social organisation habitat use, and management strategies (i.e. mixed grazing versus wildlife only or livestock only) on parasites and microbiomes, and 4) use population genetics to understand the and transmission dynamics between wildlife and parasites.

Entry Requirements:
Applicants must have obtained, or be about to obtain, at least an upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject.

UK applicants interested in this project should make direct contact with the Principal Supervisor to arrange to discuss the project further as soon as possible. International applicants (including EU nationals) must ensure they meet the academic eligibility criteria (including English Language) as outlined before contacting potential supervisors to express an interest in their project. Eligibility can be checked via the University Country Specific information page (

If your country is not listed you must contact the Doctoral Academy Admissions Team providing a detailed CV (to include academic qualifications – stating degree classification(s) and dates awarded) and relevant transcripts.

Following the review of your qualifications and with support from potential supervisor(s), you will be informed whether you can submit a formal online application.

To be considered for this project you MUST submit a formal online application form - full details on how to apply can be found on the BBSRC DTP website

Equality, diversity and inclusion is fundamental to the success of The University of Manchester, and is at the heart of all of our activities. The full Equality, diversity and inclusion statement can be found on the website

Funding Notes

Funding will cover UK tuition fees/stipend only. The University of Manchester aims to support the most outstanding applicants from outside the UK. We 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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Thumbi SM, Bronsvoort BMdeC, Poole EJ, Kiara H, Toye P, Ndila M, Conradie I, Jennings A, Handel IG, Coetzer JAW, Hanotte O, Woolhouse MEJ. 2013a. Parasite co-infections show synergistic and antagonistic interactions on growth performance of East African zebu cattle under one year. Parasitology, 140: 1789-1798. doi:10.1017/S0031182013001261.

Walker JG, Morgan ER (2014) Generalists at the interface: Nematode transmission between wild and domestic ungulates. International Journal for Parasitology: Parasites and Wildlife 3: 242-250 %@ 2213-2244

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