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Fully Funded PhD Position In Primate Conservation And UAV Technology: determining chimpanzee distribution in western Tanzania using unmanned aerial vehicles


   Faculty of Engineering & Technology

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  Prof S Wich  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Introduction:
The Faculty of Engineering & Technology and the Faculty of Science at Liverpool John Moores University would like to announce four new PhD positions related to the exciting and rapidly emerging field of Drone Technology and Applied Drone Technology. This strategic investment by the Faculties supports a total of four fully funded PhD studentships in interdisciplinary research in the fields of Science and Engineering.

The multidisciplinary projects all involve Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), or drones, however the focus of the different research projects ranges from engineering and technological development to the application of UAV technology to ecological conservation and human evolutionary biomechanical anthropology.

This unique PhD position will focus on determining chimpanzee distribution in western Tanzania using unmanned aerial vehicles and also will investigate the factors that influence this distribution. Studying chimpanzee distributions is important because at least 75 per cent of Tanzanian chimpanzees (~ 2-3000 total chimpanzees) live outside of national parks and little is known about their distribution, behaviour, or ecology. Thus determining their distribution outside of national parks is of high-conservation priority.

Traditionally researchers have surveyed chimpanzees using ground surveys, but recently researchers have started to use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). This is a promising innovative method to address questions about species distribution that can vastly increase the areas over which surveys can be conducted. In this study the PhD student will use UAVs fitted with cameras will be used to both collect data on regional chimpanzee distribution, but also to map landscape features (e.g. land-cover types and human disturbance) that might be important in determining their distribution. Combined, this project will integrate UAV-acquired datasets to test hypotheses about chimpanzee presence and landscape change due to key pressures - illegal herding, agricultural expansion, deforestation, and the spatiotemporal patterns of grass fires – recently identified as immediate threats to the Greater Mahale Ecosystem (GME) in western Tanzania. To achieve this goal the supervisory team comprises both researchers from the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Engineering and Technology.

This study will therefore have implications both for conservationists seeking to devise ecosystem-appropriate strategies, and also for anthropologists that reconstruct hominin behaviours that were adapted to similar landscapes during the Plio-Pleistocene.

Eligibility:
Applicants should have MSc in ecology, animal behaviour or a related field, knowledge of R/SPSS/ArcGIS, good quantitative skills and ideally, field experience in the tropics, and skills in flying RC planes or UAVs.

Application Information:
To apply you should send the following by email to [Email Address Removed]
1. A cover letter, including the code of the specific project(s) that you are interested in (see below in individual descriptions), outlining your interest in this research area and any relevant experience that you have in the field. Please explain what makes you suitable for this position. Tuition fees are covered by a LJMU Bursary. For non-EU candidates there must be a clear statement explaining how you would expect to pay the difference in EU and overseas fees.
2. Your CV (maximum two pages) indicating the names of two academic referees.

Deadlines:
Closing date for applications is 26th February 2016. Interview dates and times will be advised shortly after this date. Late applications will be considered until the positions have been filled.
Specific eligibility requirements for each of the four PhD positions varies for each case and is given as part of the individual position descriptions below, along with email contacts for informal queries linked to specific projects.


Funding Notes

These PhD studentships are for 3 years and are intended to start on 1 March 2016 or as soon as a suitable candidate has been appointed. Each studentship provides a stipend of £14,057 per annum (15/16 RCUK rate) plus tuition fees at the UK/EU rate for up to three years. International (non EU) students may apply, but will need to find the difference in fees between those for a ‘UK/EU’ and ‘international’ student themselves.
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