Marine Biology: Fully Funded Swansea University and Bertarelli Programme PhD Scholarship: Nesting ecology of sea turtles in the British Indian ocean territory
This scholarship is funded by Swansea University’s College of Science and the Bertarelli Programme in Marine Science.
Start date: April 2020
Estimating the absolute number of individuals of a population, together with their fecundity and breeding success, is central to understanding the ecosystem role of species and their population dynamics. Estimates inform the assessment of the conservation status of endangered species and influence conservation policies and management. However, estimates of abundance and breeding success are difficult to obtain and are therefore often inaccurate for rare or cryptic species. Sea turtle population assessment is especially challenging: turtles are capital breeders, do not breed annually, and tend to emerge to breed on remote beaches.
This project will focus on the breeding success of hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) and green turtle (Chelonia mydas) at a long-term study site in Diego Garcia, British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT). The PhD research will inform the existing research programme to investigate the ecology of turtles nesting across five atolls in BIOT following recent work to estimate population size, fecundity and incubation conditions in BIOT (e.g. Esteban and Laloë et al. 2016; Esteban et al. 2017; Mortimer and Esteban et al. in press). Additionally the project will examine the importance of the BIOT for immature foraging turtles, through the use of drone surveys and biologging. The student will spend 3-4 months in BIOT during years 1 and 2 of the project.
Candidates must have either a First Class Honours degree and/or a Distinction at Masters’ level in Marine Biology. Experience in working within a sea turtle conservation programme, analysing drone footage to assess species abundance and a proven ability to publish in the peer-review literature are essential.
For candidates whose first language is not English, we require IELTS 6.5 (with 6.0 in each component) or equivalent. Please visit our website for a list of acceptable English language tests. We prefer candidates to have already met the English Language requirements at the point of application, although this is not a requirement.
Successful international candidates are expected to cover the difference in tuition fees.
This scholarship is fully funded by Swansea University's College of Science and the Bertarelli Programme in Marine Science for three years covering UK/EU tuition fees and an annual stipend of £15,009. Successful international candidates are expected to cover the difference in tuition fees.