This 3-year PhD, funded by the National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS), will include a monitoring programme of Natterjack toad population size and trend, habitat use and conservation status.
The candidate will spend 7-8 months per year (August-March) at Queen’s University Belfast and 4-5 months each year (March-July) on the Dingle and Iveragh Peninsulas, County Kerry coordinating and conducting independent field work during the Natterjack toad breeding season. Travel and accommodation costs will be fully funded. There is an opportunity for a funded Research Assistant with additional work placement students with whom the successful candidate will liaise logistically to conduct field work and collect data. Field work must begin the week commencing 25th March 2024 to capture the start of the next breeding season. The team will visit more than 100 breeding ponds every 7-14 days to record egg strings and environmental data influencing Natterjack toad occurrence and breeding success, for example, water chemistry parameters, habitat features and nearby threats and pressures.
In addition to its prescribed core component of population biology, there is opportunity for the successful candidate to develop a programme of research into, for example, acoustic or environmental DNA monitoring, capture-mark-recapture studies, testing the efficacy of conservation strategies, screening for amphibian pathogens or toad genetics.
A report on the core component of population monitoring is required by November 2026 with final PhD thesis submission estimated for March 2027.
This studentship will continue and develop the previous programme of Natterjack toad research in Ireland which included (but is not limited to):
Natterjack conservation status
Artificial agri-environment scheme ponds
Evaluating conservation efforts https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006320721002809
New breeding sites https://www.biotaxa.org/hn/article/view/60590
Sex ratio estimation
Population genetic structure
Environmental DNA markers
Climate change impacts
Essential criteria: A full valid driver’s license.
Dr Neil Reid (Primary; contact at [Email Address Removed])
Prof Mark Emmerson
Dr Marina Reyne
How to apply: “All applications must be submitted online via: https://dap.qub.ac.uk/portal/user/u_login.php”