The use of cognitive bias as a means of assessing affective state (i.e. emotions/moods) in non-human animals has been developed and widely utilised in a range of species including both domesticated species and captive wild animals. Thus far, studies have focused on the use of cognitive bias in the assessment of captive animal welfare, in order to understand how housing, husbandry and other aspects of management (e.g. enrichment provision) can be modified to encourage positive and avoid negative welfare. Recently, the topic of wild animal welfare has become of increasing interest as the human influence on wild animal populations has become more pervasive, such that the responsibility for animal welfare could be considered to extend from animals kept in captivity to those living in the wild whose lives are impacted by human activity. But, it remains unknown whether or not the findings observed in captivity will translate to wild free-living animal populations. In this project, the student will adapt existing cognitive bias tasks for application in a wild environment and then use these to compare the affective state of wild birds that live in areas of contrasting welfare conditions.
The project will be supervised by Prof Oliver Burman (Animal Welfare Science) and Dr Tom Pike (Behavioural Ecology). The successful candidate will be registered for a 1-year full time Masters by Research degree at the University of Lincoln, and will be part of a vibrant postgraduate environment. A Masters by Research degree is a 1 year research degree that is distinct from taught Masters programmes and involves planning, implementing and writing up a research project. You will be encouraged to submit your work for publication at the end of the programme.
Applicants must be highly motivated and should have, or expect to obtain, at least a 2.i BSc, MBiol or equivalent qualification in a relevant subject. Experience of fieldwork would be an advantage. The studentship must commence by October 2019.
How to Apply If you are interested in applying for this project, send your CV, results transcript with grades (or known individual module/course component performance), covering letter detailing your experience and reasons for applying, and the names of two independent academic referees, to the project supervisors, Prof Oliver Burman ([email protected]) and Dr Tom Pike ([email protected]). Deadline for applications 30th August 2019.
The successful applicant will receive a tuition fee bursary that covers the cost of UK/EU tuition fees (£4,327), but no stipend. Field equipment and research costs will also be covered.