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ONE Planet DTP - Dung fungi and DNA: recording the decline of reptiles on oceanic islands (Ref: OP20314)

  • Full or part time
    Dr M Pound
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, January 31, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Project Description:
Island colonisation by people has routinely led to the extinction of animal species or the decimation of populations. Many oceanic islands on trade routes were first occupied transiently by ship crews as a means of resupplying fresh food, and only colonised fully later on. Though ephemeral, in many cases this had a devastating impact on animal populations, such as large tortoises. Human colonisation was often accompanied by the introduction of livestock, pets and pests, leading to further adverse impact on native animal communities.
Dung fungi from mammalian herbivore faeces have been relatively well studied, increasing our understanding of extinctions and husbandry practices. Dung fungi on reptile dung has been reported, but has not been used to throw new light on the processes of extinction and colonisation of oceanic islands. Similarly, DNA extracted from sediment cores has been used successfully for investigating mammal and plant responses to human activity. This proposed ONEPlanet PhD project seeks to further developing these techniques to detect specific reptile dung fungi alongside DNA of reptiles and dung fungi.
The project will involve overseas fieldwork including sediment coring on an island such as Reunion, Mauritius or the Canaries, analysis of the core using palaeoecological and statistical methods, and laboratory work cultivating fungi on reptilian dung from zoos and wildlife parks in the UK.The candidate will acquire skills in geographic and ecological fieldwork, statistics and palaeoecological and sedimentological laboratory analysis.
A successful candidate will have a degree in Earth Science, Biology, Geography, Archaeology or other relevant discipline. An interest and understanding of mycology would be beneficial. Full training will be offered over the course of the PhD, but some lab experience would be desirable. No aversion to excrement is necessary!
For more information, please contact .

Eligibility and How to Apply:
Please note eligibility requirement:
• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
• Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. OP.....) will not be considered.

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality.

Funding Notes

We have a minimum of 12 (3.5 year) PhD fully funded studentship awards available for October 2020 entry. Each award includes fees (Home / EU), an annual living allowance (for 2019/20 this is £15,009) and a Research Training Support Grant (for travel, consumables, as required).

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