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Landscapes for the conservation of the Giant Ibis in Cambodia

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Wednesday, January 08, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

BACKGROUND: The Giant Ibis is a critically endangered species of
bird, now restricted to a small population scattered across the
savannahs of northern Cambodia. Through a community conservation
programme, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Cambodia
protect around 20% of the nesting population, most nests successfully
raising young each year but after a decade of such work, there is no
sign of a population recovery yet. The savannahs occupied by the ibis
have seen landscape-scale changes with loss of large herbivores
altering the landscape in a variety of ways that may affect ibis
recruitment, but the use of the landscape by young ibis is poorly
known. WCS intend to implement landscape management activities to
boost ibis populations and this project will use GPS tracking
technology to assess the success of these works and assist in
developing new conservation plans.

(1) To identify the landscape features used by young ibis through
GPS tagging.
(2) To evaluate the success of interventions designed to simulate
herbivore activity at waterholes and across the landscape
(3) To test the hypothesis that loss of large herbivores is
preventing ibis recovery
(4) To develop an updated conservation action plan for Giant Ibis

ACTIVITIES: To meet these objectives and test the appropriate
hypotheses, the student will gain field experience tagging and
monitoring birds using modern GPS technology as well as survey skills
monitoring invertebrates and vegetation across northern Cambodia.
They will also gain skills in analysing remotely sensed data to identify
landscape features and quality. Analysing these data will involve
detailed statistical analyses, including machine learning and spatial
analysis alongside modern statistical methods.

The student will be based in the Biology Department at the University
of York, in research groups with an active programme of post-
graduate research in savannah ecology and ornithology. In the field in
Cambodia the student will work alongside WCS’s established field

Funding Notes

This NERC ACCE DTP studentship is fully funded for 3.5 years in the first instance, and students must complete their PhD in four years. The studentship covers: (i) a tax-free annual stipend at the standard Research Council rate (£15,009 for 2019-2020, but typically increases annually in line with inflation), (ii) research costs, and (iii) tuition fees at the UK/EU rate. You can extend your funding period for up to 6 months by applying to a 3-month placement and 3-month writing up period for a publication.


ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: Students with, or expecting to gain, at least an Upper Second Class Honours degree, or equivalent, are invited to apply. The interdisciplinary nature of this programme means that we welcome applications from students with backgrounds in any relevant subject that provides the necessary skills, knowledge and experience for the DTP, including environmental, biological, chemical, mathematical, physical and social sciences.

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

FTE Category A staff submitted: 44.37

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

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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