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Call of nature: How do livestock veterinary drugs impact dung beetles and other macroinvertebrates, their microbiota and associated ecosystem services? NERC DCT ECORISC PhD Studentship for 2023 entry, PhD in Biosciences


   Department of Biosciences

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  Dr N Royle  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Location:

Department of Biosciences, Penryn Campus, University of Exeter, Penryn, Cornwall

Project Outline:

The activities of dung beetles and other soil macroinvertebrates support the maintenance of healthy soils by facilitating the breakdown of dung through combined direct consumption and facilitated microbial community action, but livestock veterinary drugs such as avermectins and antibiotics threaten such ecosystem services.

Although avermectins (wormers) and antibiotics are both routinely administered to livestock and may be present in dung at the same time the combinational impacts (negative or positive) of these veterinary drugs on dung beetle behaviour, reproduction, soil fauna-microbiome interactions, and associated ecosystem level consequences are likely to be substantive but have not been studied before.

This project aims to address these issues to provide a better understanding of the processes involved which may help improve food security and mitigate against antibiotic resistance, biodiversity loss and climate change in agricultural environments.

We are seeking a dynamic and enthusiastic student with strong quantitative skills and interests in ecology/ecotoxicology/behaviour/microbiology/entomology/molecular biology or combinations thereof to work on our project addressing the impacts of veterinary drugs on soil and dung macroinvertebrates in agricultural environments.

You will develop skills in experimental design and bioassay studies of toxicity and behaviour, advanced statistical analysis (e.g., linear mixed models and Bayesian statistics), microbiology, bioinformatics and molecular ecology (including preparation of next generation sequencing libraries) and mathematical modelling. You will work in both the lab and field on this project.

You will be based at the University of Exeter in Penryn, Cornwall, one of the highest ranked Universities in the world for ecology (according to the Shanghai rankings), supervised by Dr Nick RoyleDr Xavier Harrison and Dr Mario Recker. You will also spend time with Prof Dave Spurgeon at UKCEH Wallingford, with access to specialized mesocosms and labs for terrestrial ecotoxicology, and with conservation scientists and farm managers at the RSPB under the supervision of Dr Gillian Gilbert.

Supervisor: Dr Nick Royle

Host organisation: University of Exeter (Cornwall Campus)

Partner Organisation: RSPB

The ECORISC CDT

This project is being advertised by the NERC-funded ECORISC (Ecotoxicological Risk Assessment Towards Sustainable Chemical Use) Centre for Doctoral Training programme. Funding will be provided for 3 years and 10 months. During this time you will work on your research project but will also receive unique and outstanding training in pollution science and transferable skills.

Over the first two years of the PhD programme, you will receive subject-specific training, in: i) ecotoxicology; ii) environmental chemistry; iii) ecology; and iv) risk assessment; and v) core skills required for an environmental specialist. The formal training programme will be complemented by yearly residential challenge events and tailored specialist skills training conducted as group and individual exercises.

ECORISC students will also be required to undertake two workplace experiences based with our business, policy and regulation, third sector and research organisation partners.

An inclusive CDT programme:

Inclusivity is at the heart of the ECORISC programme. We strongly encourage applications from under-represented groups and are employing a number of mechanisms, such as the possibility of part-time working, to ensure the programme is open to all. We will ensure that individuals with disabilities are provided reasonable accommodation to participate in the application process. If you have any questions, then please don’t hesitate to contact us at [Email Address Removed].

Eligibility and Application process:

The studentships are open to highly motivated UK and international applicants with at least an Upper Second Class Honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject. Successful applicants will be passionate about environmental pollution science and want their science to make a difference.

To be considered for this and other PhD’s offered under the ECORISC CDT, you should initially complete a short online application form available on the ECORISC PhD Studentships web page.

Applications should be submitted before 17:00 on Friday 9th December 2022.

You will be notified of the outcome of the process by 17:00 Thursday 22nd December 2022.

Successful applicants will be provided with an opportunity to meet with supervisory teams and then be invited to submit a project-specific application form which will be used to shortlist candidates for an interview.

ECORISC open afternoon We are running an online ‘open afternoon’ for you to learn more about the CDT and to ask questions on the programme or the application process.

This event will run from 14:00-16:00 GMT on Wednesday 16th November 2022 and booking details can be found on the ECORISC website

Entry requirements

The studentships are open to highly motivated UK and international applicants with at least an upper second-class Honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject. Successful applicants will be passionate about environmental pollution science and want their science to make a difference.

Successful applicants will be provided with an opportunity to meet with supervisory teams and then be invited to submit a project-specific application form which will be used to shortlist candidates for an interview.

International applicants need to be aware that you will have to cover the cost of your student visa, healthcare surcharge and other costs of moving to the UK to do a PhD.

The conditions for eligibility of home fees status are complex and you will need to seek advice if you have moved to or from the UK (or Republic of Ireland) within the past 3 years or have applied for settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.

How to apply

To be considered for this and other PhD’s offered under the ECORISC CDT, you should initially complete a short online application form available on the ECORISC PhD Studentships web page.

Applications should be submitted before 17:00 on Friday 9th December 2022.

You will be notified of the outcome of the process by 17:00 Thursday 22nd December 2022.

If you have any general enquiries about the application process please email [Email Address Removed] or phone 0300 555 60 60 (UK callers) +44 (0) 1392 723044 (International callers)

Project-specific queries should be directed to the supervisor;  Dr Nick Royle - [Email Address Removed]


Funding Notes

For eligible students the studentship will cover tuition fees plus an annual tax-free stipend of at least £17,668 for 3 years 10 months full-time, or pro rata for part-time study.
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