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Landscape composition and carbon-biodiversity co-benefits in the Tropical Andes

Project Description

Deforestation is a key driver of global climate change and the biodiversity extinction crisis. However, the financial resources available to tackle both issues are limited, indicating an urgent need to identify actions that address them concurrently. One possibility is to allow forests to naturally regenerate on marginal agricultural lands, returning carbon and biodiversity. A key issue is how landscape configuration and patch size of regenerating forest impact carbon and biodiversity co-benefits over space. This PhD focuses on the Tropical Andes – a global hotspot of biodiversity and extinction risk from historical fragmentation – and on birds or dung beetles, as well-studied taxa and key indicators of patterns of land-use change on other groups.

The specific objectives of the project are to:
(1) Identify thresholds of species loss and gain from deforestation and natural regeneration in the Tropical Andes.
(2) Understand how landscape composition impacts carbon-biodiversity co-benefits of avoided deforestation and natural forest regeneration.

This is the first tropical study to identify the impacts of fragmentation and natural forest regeneration on carbon and biodiversity co-benefits. It will help to direct development of conservation policy and carbon markets in the Tropical Andes.

The post would suit a highly motivated student interested in the impacts of global change on biodiversity and carbon stocking, with enthusiasm for tropical-based fieldwork and interest in conservation decision-making. Although knowledge of bird or dung beetle identification would be an asset, our strong collaboration with CASE Partner the Humboldt Institute (Instituto Alexander von Humboldt) means that training can be given.

Spanish is desirable but not essential since this project will be embedded within the Biodiversity, Agriculture and Conservation in Colombia project ( whose research currently includes the £1.35M NERC-funded ’Provisioning of ecosystem services and cultural values in the montane tropics’ project and £0.6M Research Council of Norway-funded project ‘Impact of agriculture on biodiversity across spatial scales’. In combination, these projects are collecting field data and have a network of local assistants that can be drawn upon in this PhD.

Funding Notes

Fully funded studentship cover: (i) a stipend at the UKRI rate (at least £14,777 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 at the University of Sheffield the w/c 11th February 2019.

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