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PhD Studentship: Development of molecular tools for rapid assessment of biocontrol and its utility in integrated pest management of an Invasive moth species in the UK.

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Tuesday, December 03, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Number of awards

Start date and duration
January 2020 (3 years)

Invasive species are a threat to biodiversity worldwide with consequences for both native wildlife and the managed habitats that people rely on for survival (e.g. agricultural land). Typically, Invasive species are controlled using a range of pesticides but there is considerable interest in the role of natural enemies to provide cheap ongoing biocontrol. Of major importance to implementing biocontrol is the understanding of how effective each natural enemy is in terms of both how widespread it is and how effective it is at reducing numbers of the target species to be controlled.

The Oak Processionary Moth (Thaumetopoea processionea – OPM) is a UK invasive species that attacks Oak trees and who’s populations can reach plague proportions with severe consequences for the forestry sector in countries where which it occurs. In addition to it’s economic effects, the caterpillars of this moth have irritating hairs that pose a public safety risk when the moth occurs in public parks and gardens.

The aims of this studentship are:

develop a DNA based test for field based detection of the main biocontrol species for OPM (A parasitoid fly called Carcelia iliaca).
use this test to map the distribution of Carcelia iliaca within the UK distribution of OPM.
use ecological survey techniques to determine the land management practises that are most beneficial to Carcelia iliaca.
work with DEFRA to integrate this ecological data into decision-making frameworks used as part of the UK government’s OPM control program.

DEFRA and Newcastle University

Name of supervisors
Dr James Kitson (Newcastle University) -
Professor Neil Boonham (Newcastle University) -
Jake Morris (DEFRA)
Dr Darren Evans (Newcastle University) -

Eligibility Criteria
Ideal candidates will have a good undergraduate degree (at least 2:1) in Ecology, Zoology or a related field. Candidates with an MSc or DNA lab experience will be viewed favourably. Position open to UK/EU citizens only.

How to apply
You must apply through the University’s online postgraduate application system

All relevant fields should be completed, but fields marked with a red asterisk in the application portal must to be completed. The following information will help us to process your application. You will need to:
- insert the programme code 8020F in the programme of study section
- select ‘PhD in PhD Biology (full time) - Environmental Science as the programme of study
- insert the studentship code NES025 in the studentship/partnership reference field
- attach a covering letter and CV. The covering letter must state the title of the studentship, quote reference code NES025 and state how your interests and experience relate to the project
- attach degree transcripts and certificates and, if English is not your first language, a copy of your English language qualifications

Funding Notes

This award includes fees, an annual stipend of £15,009 (tax free) and consumables to cover the research. The total value of this award is £107,736.

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