Imperial College London Featured PhD Programmes
Imperial College London Featured PhD Programmes
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Imperial College London Featured PhD Programmes
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The impact of social relationships on crop-raiding in male African savannah elephants

Project Description

Background: In contrast to the well-studied social relations in matriarchal
groups, the social relations governing bull behaviour is poorly understood in
elephants..There is growing evidence that bull elephant behaviour is driven by
male-male social processes. From puberty, males leave their maternal herd and
natal areas, joining bull societies in areas that are unknown to them. Here,
males seek out the proximity of older individuals. By staying close to older
males, young males likely benefit from their knowledge about local resources,
while learning social rules of bull society. However, in agricultural areas the
leadership role of older males can be problematic. Highly-nutritional cultivated
plants are often sought by old males who enter the farmers fields to crop-raid.
Young males may follow older associates onto the community land and learn
this behaviour, bringing them in direct conflict with local communities. We will
examine human-wildlife conflict in elephants in Botswana, with the aim of
understanding the social role of old elephant bulls.

To determine:
1) Temporal changes in the social structure of male elephants.
2) The development of crop raiding behaviour in male elephants.
3) Leadership among male elephants and their link with crop raiding

Novelty: Crop-raising is an increasing problem in human-elephant conflict.
However, little is known about the drivers of crop-raiding, resulting from
interactions between males. We will use recently methods from network and
leadership analysis and to understand leadership and social influence.

Timeliness: It is important for developing adequate mitigation strategies against
crop-raiding elephants. This is an increasing problem and results in human-
elephant conflict. The project will also start a collaboration between York and
Elephants for Africa.

Funding Notes

This NERC ACCE DTP studentship is fully funded for 3.5 years in the first instance, and students must complete their PhD in four years. The studentship covers: (i) a tax-free annual stipend at the standard Research Council rate (£15,009 for 2019-2020, but typically increases annually in line with inflation), (ii) research costs, and (iii) tuition fees at the UK/EU rate. You can extend your funding period for up to 6 months by applying to a 3-month placement and 3-month writing up period for a publication.


ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: Students with, or expecting to gain, at least an Upper Second Class Honours degree, or equivalent, are invited to apply. The interdisciplinary nature of this programme means that we welcome applications from students with backgrounds in any relevant subject that provides the necessary skills, knowledge and experience for the DTP, including environmental, biological, chemical, mathematical, physical and social sciences.

How good is research at University of York in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 44.37

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

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