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Quantifying the impacts of parasitism on livestock greenhouse gas emissions

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

Project Description

It is widely recognised that greenhouse gases (GHGs) are a major contributor to climate change, and livestock are responsible for more GHG emissions than all other food sources. With global commitments to tackle drivers of climate change, animal health and productivity are priority targets for mitigating emissions at the national and international level. It is known that common livestock parasites affect productivity and growth, however the impacts of parasitism on GHG emissions are currently unknown. Understanding the true environmental costs of parasitism in livestock will reveal the potential benefits of mitigating emissions through controlling parasite burdens.

Our pilot study has revealed that ubiquitous parasites of lambs (gastrointestinal nematodes) can drive a 33% increase in methane yield per kg of dry matter intake. This study is the first to empirically demonstrate disease-driven increases in methane yields in livestock. This studentship would quantify the impact of parasitism on total emissions from meat production, explore the impacts of parasitism on GHG emissions by working at the interface between the latest modelling techniques and applied disease systems and provide expertise and training in practical, computational and analytical techniques.

The student will be registered at the University of Edinburgh’s (UoE) Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Security, and will work within the Disease Systems Team at SRUC. Agricultural and veterinary research at SRUC and the University of Edinburgh has been ranked as the most powerful in the UK in the Research Excellence Framework (REF). The student will also be part of Biomathematics and Statistics Scotland (BioSS). BioSS is one of the Main Research Providers for strategic research in environmental, agricultural and biological science funded by the Scottish Government. BioSS has an international reputation for its research and consultancy activities, bridging the gap between the development and application of biomathematics and statistics.

By working with SRUC, BioSS and UoE Global Academy, this will prepare the student to address the multidisciplinary challenges of environmental change, animal health, and future food security. This project will suit either i) a candidate with a biological, environmental or veterinary background, with strong quantitative and computational skills and an interest in modelling disease systems, or ii) a candidate with an applied numerical/computational background keen to develop practical research skills.

Funding Notes

The stipend will be set at UKRI recommended levels for a 3.5 year-period and the studentship is funded to pay domestic tuition fee levels for UK/EU students. The student will receive an annual student stipend of £14,777 (£15,009 in 2019/20).This studentship will fund to pay the tuition fees at home fees rate only. International students must provide evidence of sufficient funds to cover the higher international student tuition fee level (approximately £16,740 per year would be required).

How good is research at SRUC - Scotland’s Rural College in Agriculture, Veterinary and Food Science?
(joint submission with University of Edinburgh)

FTE Category A staff submitted: 57.37

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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