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KESS2 Scholarship: Energy harvesting to extend high-resolution telemetry to small passerines.

Project Description

Applications are invited for a three-year research PhD studentship in piezoelectric materials and microelectronics engineering at the Schools of Electronic Engineering, and Environment, and the School of Natural Science, Bangor University, UK. The studentship is funded by the Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships ( in collaboration with the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO). It will cover tuition fees and a tax-free stipend at the standard RCUK rate (£14,057 per year), along with microelectronics training and conference attendance. The studentship is availab1e from 1st. March 2020.

Applicants should hold a first or upper second-class honours degree (or equivalent) in electronics/microwave engineering, or a related degree. UK or EU citizenship is required. Please submit a CV (max 2 pages) together with a covering letter to Dr Cristiano Palego / Dr. Paul Cross at and cc to Penny Dowdney by the 31st January 2020.
Project ID: BUK2E018

Project Overview

Birds are highly mobile and much of their ecology is relatively well understood, but high-resolution movement data can highlight critical thresholds in their ability to adapt to change and disturbance, and ensure that anthropogenic landscape management continues to be based on the best available data from this policy-critical taxonomic group. The study will adapt Bangor University’s pre-existing, novel bee-tracking technology to tracking small passerine birds in agricultural systems. In adapting the technology and the necessary assessment of body placement, attachment method(s) and the weight and data resolution limits of this method for use in birds, will ultimately define the range of species and any spatial limitations (territory size and seasonality) of the method for the investigation of small birds’ movements in complex habitats such as agricultural landscapes. This studentship objectives are therefore to:
• Complete a literature review of radio-telemetric tracking systems, and plan the experimental work for the monitoring of bird movements in the field.
• Undertake initial lab-environment experimentation including high-resolution video of body displacement in flying passerines to evaluate the scalar efficiencies of the tracking device.
• Determine whether the device provides a single resolution signal and refine the drone-scanning and feedback control resolution for the auto-tracking system to achieve a 3km scale tracking capacity.
• Evaluate the potential of portable receiver masts as an alternative to drone tracking to monitor bird movements in urban and peri-urban locations.
• Tracking devices in a variety of designs will be fitted in a number of positions on captive birds with appropriate body morphology and weight ranges to identify the optimal configuration for signal generation. Devices will be tested in free-flight experiments utilising Bangor University’s homing pigeon research facility and on a range of smaller bird species fitted with the device in controlled environments such as large aviaries.
This project is focused on ensuring a sustainable farmland environment for future generations by providing an evidence base for the optimal habitat structural heterogeneity.

Funding Notes

KESS 2 East is a pan-Wales higher level skills initiative led by Bangor University on behalf of the HE sector in Wales. It is part funded by the Welsh Government’s European Social Fund (ESF) convergence programme for West Wales and the Valleys.
Annual Stipend: £14,057

How good is research at Bangor University in Agriculture, Veterinary and Food Science?
(joint submission with Aberystwyth University)

FTE Category A staff submitted: 18.20

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

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