About the Project
This project combines study of controlled, long-term experimental platforms in the UK with a wider survey of agricultural landscapes with documented land-use histories, such as through the AHDB monitor farm network.
Plant diversity/sward will be measured to characterise differences in resources available to phytophagous invertebrates resulting from farming systems with different livestock densities. Biodiversity response measurement will focus on groups that are known to respond to gradients of agricultural intensity. These will include 1) arthropods, especially flying species such as moths, through sweep netting and light trapping, and 2) arthropod predators, especially bats (2). The latter will include trialling audiomoths (a recently-developed, open-source programmable acoustic recorder (3) alongside full-spectrum recorders to assess their suitability for studying relative activity levels in agricultural landscapes. This research will help develop resilience in future farming landscapes and will aid delivery of the 2020 Challenge for Scotland’s Biodiversity and optimise land sharing for biodiversity (4).
The student will undertake core bioscience and generic skills training as part of the host partners’ doctoral training programmes. They will develop specific skills in experimental and field survey design, species identification and field sampling, with potential also to develop techniques for automated machine-learning classification of acoustic recordings. During their second or third year or study, the student will undertake a placement with The Mammal Society which advocates science-led mammal conservation. A senior Mammal Society representative is part of the supervisory team. This placement will give the student experience of developing policy-relevant advocacy materials aimed at ensuring compatibility of sustainable food production with maintaining or enhancing key providers of ecosystem services.
We seek a student who is ambitious to contribute to sustainable solutions for maintaining biodiversity, as key delivery agents of ecosystem services, within modern farming systems. The student should be numerically competent, be an enthusiastic fieldworker and be a confident communicator for liaising with host landowners and managers.
References and further reading:
1. Fuentes‐Montemayor et al. (2010) Journal of Applied Ecology, 48, 532-542.
2. Fuentes-Montemayor et al. (2011) Biological Conservation, 144, 2233-2246.
3. Hill et al. (2018) Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 9, 1199–1211.
4. Tscharntke et al. (2012) Biological Conservation, 151, 53–59.
5. Wallis De Vries et al. (2007) Grass and Forage Science, 62, 185–197.
Applicants should download the required forms from http://www.eastscotbiodtp.ac.uk/how-apply-0 and send the following documents to email@example.com:
a. EASTBIO Application Form
b. EASTBIO DTP Equality Form
d. Academic transcripts (a minimum of an upper second class or first class honours degree or equivalent is required for PhD study
e. Two references should be provided by the deadline using the EASTBIO reference form (http://www.eastscotbiodtp.ac.uk/how-apply-0). Please advise your referees to return the reference form to firstname.lastname@example.org.
f. If you are nominated by the supervisor(s) of the EASTBIO PhD project you wish to apply for, they will provide a Supervisor Support Statement.
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