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Spatially explicit capture-recapture methods development

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  • Full or part time
    Prof D Borchers
    Dr J Illian
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

Spatially explicit capture-recapture (SECR) methods were developed in 2008 and their use has grown to the extent that they are soon likely to replace non-spatial capture-recapture for most wildlife surveys. Being relatively new, there is enormous scope for innovative method development of both frequentist and Bayesian SECR methods. A PhD in this area could focus on theoretical areas such as improved Bayesian inference, or efficient methods of dealing with individual-level random effects; or it could focus on issues of important practical relevance such as the development of efficient survey designs subject to available resources; or it could focus on issues with both theoretical and practical motivation such as development of methods that use non-Euclidian distance measures (for animals that don’t move as the crow flies, for example), development of flexible models for estimating non-uniform animal distribution and habitat use, development of methods that accommodate mobile animal activity centres, birth, death emigration and immigration. It could also focus on some other SECR-related issue of your choosing, subject to agreement with your prospective supervisor(s).

Potential applicants are encouraged to contact the Postgraduate Officer responsible for PhDs in Statistics, in advance of making a formal application. He is: Len Thomas, email [email protected]

To make a formal application, complete the appropriate online form at (click on “Apply Now” on that page). You also need to provide the following supporting documentation: CV, evidence of qualifications and evidence of English language (if applicable). You are welcome to include a covering letter. You don’t need to provide a research proposal or a sample of academic written work. You will need to ask two referees to provide academic references for you – once you fill in their name on the form, they will be sent emails asking them to upload their references. Please note that we give serious consideration to both the stature of your referees and the remarks that they make about you. More details about the application procedure are given at

Funding Notes

Multiple sources of scholarship funding are potentially available, including university, research council (EPSRC) and research group (CREEM). Some are open to international students, some to EU and some UK only.

Applicants should have a good first degree in mathematics, statistics or another scientific discipline with a substantial numerical component. Applicants with degrees in other subjects, such as biology, are invited to discuss their qualifications with the Postgraduate Officer. A masters-level degree is an advantage.

Many details of the general requirements and admissions procedure are given at the university web site

How good is research at University of St Andrews in Mathematical Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 30.60

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

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