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Quantifying ecological impacts and long-term sustainability of The Cheshire Beaver Project


Faculty of Health and Life Science

, , Dr J Chantrey Friday, January 15, 2021 Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber) was lost from mainland Britain due to human activities. Its reintroduction is now gaining momentum, driven by recent high-profile projects demonstrating the role of beavers as beneficial habitat-modifiers. Building on these developments, the Cheshire Beaver Project is conducting a scientifically monitored trial reintroduction, with the aim of utilising beavers for natural process driven habitat management. As a first step, beavers will be released into a fenced area, adjacent to an SSSI with declining water quality and threatened peatland habitats. The beavers are predicted to have multiple ecological benefits, including an increase in biodiversity and reduction in invasive species. Their release offers significant potential both to improve water quality at the reintroduction site, and to enhance the conservation status of the adjacent SSSI. Objectives of the PhD include: - Analyse and add to ecological survey datasets for the beaver reintroduction site and adjacent areas, testing for evidence of predicted increases in biodiversity and reductions in invasive species. - Test for predicted improvements in water quality at the reintroduction site and adjacent SSSI into which it flows. - Develop and apply non-invasive techniques for monitoring the behaviour, health and welfare of beavers in enclosed areas as population density increases, to inform stakeholder management decisions. - Model the projected long-term success of future beaver releases linked to the
project, and potential for establishment of self-sustaining populations, based on i) habitat suitability and connectivity, and ii) population viability, under a range of reintroduction scenarios and management strategies. The student will benefit from strong links with CASE
partner Cheshire Wildlife Trust, working closely with an established team of ecologists and volunteers. This offers first-hand experience of practical conservation, facilitating understanding of how research feeds into evidence based decision making by stakeholders.
The student will develop a diverse skill set that includes ecological surveying and monitoring, advanced data analysis, habitat modelling, and the application of nutrient hydrochemistry to monitor changes in water quality.

HOW TO APPLY

Notes and how to apply are available here: https://acce.shef.ac.uk/phd-opportunities-at-liverpool/

Funding Notes

NERC ACCE DTP in Ecology and Evolution, programme starts October 2021.

UKRI provide the following funding for 3.5 years:
• Stipend (2020/21 UKRI rate £15,285)
• Tuition Fees at UK fee rate (2020/21 rate £4,407)
• Research support and training grant (RTSG)

Note - UKRI funding only covers UK fees (£4,407 at 2020/2021 rate). A limited number of international fee bursaries will be awarded on a competitive basis. However, if selected International and EU fee rate candidates may need to cover the remaining amount of tuition fees by securing additional funding. International fees for 2020/21 entry were £23,650 per annum.

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