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Impact of tropical selective logging on avian feeding interactions


Project Description

Over 400 million hectares of tropical forest -- an area the size of the European Union -- are designated for selective logging. More sustainable practices to manage timber extraction are possible if we understand the biodiversity impacts of logging. Logging alters biological communities, as forest-interior specialists decline and edge-tolerant species increase. Previous research suggests that, post logging, birds feed from higher trophic levels (i.e. consuming more insects and less fruit). How the abundance and diversity of exploited food sources varies between primary and logged forest, and in turn, how this drives changes in species abundance remain key questions.

Focusing on selective logging in Malaysian Borneo, the objectives of this PhD project are to: (1) Determine how logging impacts bird diets; (2) explore how logging alters the structures of the interaction networks between birds and their food sources; and (3) link changes in food resources to changes in species’ abundance.

This research will efficiently determine the diets of large samples of multiple species by harnessing the recent development of DNA metabarcoding and the power of new-generation sequencing. This technology will enable the student to gather much more data than was possible using manual methods, and so tackle previously untested hypotheses.

The post would suit a motivated student interested in the impacts of global change on biodiversity, with an enthusiasm for a mix of tropical-based fieldwork and lab-based research. Experience of using mist-nets to sample birds and/or of DNA metabarcoding or similar lab techniques would be an asset, although the successful candidate would be offered training in both techniques. Specifically, the student would be embedded within a long-term mist-netting bird sampling project running at the Danum Valley Field Centre and surrounding logged forests for six years, and within the NERC Biomolecular Analysis Facility based in the Dept. of Animal and Plant Sciences at the University of Sheffield.

Science Graduate School
As a PhD student in one of the science departments at the University of Sheffield, you’ll be part of the Science Graduate School. You’ll get access to training opportunities designed to support your career development by helping you gain professional skills that are essential in all areas of science. You’ll be able to learn how to recognise good research and research behaviour, improve your communication abilities and experience the breadth of technologies that are used in academia, industry and many related careers. Visit http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/sgs to learn more.

Funding Notes

Fully funded studentships cover: (i) a stipend at the UKRI rate (£15,009 per annum for 2019-2020), (ii) research costs, and (iii) tuition fees. Studentship(s) are available to UK and EU students who meet the UK residency requirements.
This PhD project is part of the NERC funded Doctoral Training Partnership “ACCE” (Adapting to the Challenges of a Changing Environment View Website. ACCE is a partnership between the Universities of Sheffield, Liverpool, York, CEH, and NHM.
Shortlisted applicants will be invited for an interview to take place in the w/c 10th February 2020.

How good is research at University of Sheffield in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 44.90

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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