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Determining how ancient human societies and historic climate change have shaped Egypt’s mammalian fauna and its implications for our understanding of the links between people and the environment


Project Description

We are seeking a PhD student to research how the mammalian fauna of Egypt have been altered by human activities and climate change over the past 10,000yrs, and what this can tell us about interactions between the environment and society and their role in the development of human culture. The transdisciplinary study brings together expertise in ecological modelling, biodiversity change and Egyptological archaeology to investigate the links between climate/wildlife/civilization. Recent awareness of the profound impact of both people and climate change on animal populations during the Holocene highlights the critical need to disentangle the various human and non-human drivers of biotic change, both to understand the past and help inform the future. Here the well-preserved archaeozoological record of Egypt presents an exciting opportunity to shed crucial light on how human societies not only shape, but are also shaped by their environment.

Objectives:

(1) Integrate information from paleontological and archaeological sources (faunal remains, prehistorical/historical depictions/descriptions) to reconstruct spatiotemporal changes in wild and domesticated faunal assemblages in Holocene Egypt.

(2) Use these faunal datasets to identify spatiotemporal variation in climatic and anthopogenic drivers of extinction and colonization in Egypt over a period spanning from pre-historic times and the Ancient Egyptian civilization to the present-day.

(3) Explore societal consequences of the environmental changes identified for the Ancient Egyptian civilization and its prehistoric precursors.

The emphasis of the study can be tailored to meet the interests of the student and we encourage applicants from a broad range of academic disciplines, from biological to archaeological/Egyptological sciences, provided a keen interest in developing interdisciplinary research skills, including the use of computer programming and quantitative methods as part of the study. The student will be based at Univ. Liverpool and is expected to spend around a month annually at the “Leverhulme Centre for Anthropocene Biodiversity”, Univ. York.


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, View Website ). ACCE – a collaboration between the Universities of Liverpool, Sheffield,and York – is the only dedicated ecology/evolution/conservation Doctoral Training Partnership in the UK.

Applications (CV, letter of application, 2 referees) by email to deadline: January 8th 2020. Interviews in or after the week commencing : 10th February 2020. Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed for only one project from the ACCE partnership.

References

Payne, B. L., & Bro-Jørgensen, J. (2016) Disproportionate climate-induced range loss forecast for the most threatened antelopes. Current Biology 26:1200-1205

Thomas, C D. (2019) The development of Anthropocene biotas. Philosophical Transactions Of The Royal Society Of London Series B (in press) http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/149177/1/.

Betts, M.G. Illán, M.G.J.G., Yang, Z., Shirley, S.M. & Thomas, C.D. (2019) Synergistic effects of climate and land-cover change on long-term bird population trends of the Western USA: a test of modeled predictions. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 7: article 186 https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fevo.2019.00186/full

Snape, S. (2014) The Complete Cities of Ancient Egypt. London: Thames and Hudson.


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