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ONE Planet DTP - Reconstructing climate and ancient landscapes in the Maya Mountains, Belize, using tropical land snails (Ref: OP20318)

  • Full or part time
  • 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: A range of palaeoclimate records document Holocene climate change in the ancient Maya region. The extent to which these changes influenced the ancient Maya civilisation is hotly debated. Reduced to questions of spatial climate variability and human resilience, the issue calls for careful compilation of data from local, but versatile archives. Tropical snails’ shells are excellent but underrated indicators of local rainfall and vegetation changes. Modern assemblages of individuals collected at the same time and site show substantial differences between isotopic signatures of arboreal, generalist, litter-, and rock-dwelling species. The project is designed to explore these differences by (1) mapping the stable isotope and 14C composition of shells of modern species into their ecologic nishes, and assessing species-specific advantages and limitations for use in (paleo)environmental research and for dating, and (2) applying a refined understanding of modern relationships in interpreting past climate and landscape changes, using shells from Holocene archaeological sites in the Maya Mountains, Belize.
The proposed research combines isotope palaeoecology, palaeoclimatology and climate modelling, and archaeology and is integrated in ongoing collaboration with the University of New Mexico (UNM), USA. The student will become a member of an international and multidisciplinary team, will participate in fieldwork in the Bladen Nature Reserve in Belize, and will have access to material and climate data already collected at this site. The project offers training in state-of-the-art isotopic analyses and in elements of climate modelling, and participation in workshops and international conferences.
Prerequisites: Independent and motivated students with keen interest in tropical palaeoecology and isotope geochemistry. Passion for fieldwork and ability/willingness to learn programming are welcomed. For more information, please contact Ola Kwiecien ().

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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