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Trees to mitigate the climate change impacts of poultry (OP2225)

   Faculty of Science, Agriculture and Engineering

   Monday, January 24, 2022  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Newcastle United Kingdom Agricultural Sciences Biodiversity Climate Science Ecology Geographical Information Systems Gis Mathematical Modelling Soil Science

About the Project

Since 70% of UK land and 37% globally is used for agriculture, climate change action must include agriculture. However, agriculture is one of the most difficult sectors to abate, and under some estimates could represent half UK emissions by 2050. At least 50,000 hectares of the UK is used to provide ranges for free-range chickens. Tree planting on chicken ranges could sequester carbon and provide habitat for native species, but this is not common practice and the extent to which the treescape and animal behaviour influence emissions is not known. This project fills this knowledge gap by taking a multidisciplinary approach with supervisory expertise spanning carbon capture and soil sequestration, nitrogen cycling, chicken behaviour and biodiversity. On 18 commercial tree planted free-range poultry farms the candidate could focus on: (1) Quantifying habitat structures / biodiversity; (2) Measuring chicken behaviour and defecation patterns in response to habitat structure / resource use; (3) Conducting experiments measuring emissions based on different feces / soil interactions (soil conditions, microbial communities, weather); (4) Conducting stratified field sampling of emissions based on feces distribution and habitat structure using gas analysers and GIS spatial modelling; (5) Creating a systems model of poultry habitat, behaviour and emissions which has flexibility to apply to other contexts (e.g. global poultry industry where Free-range poultry systems are growing exponentially); 6) Understanding the wider advantages and disadvantages of tree planting (e.g. stepping stone for range shifting species, flood attenuation, secondary crops, disease risk). The successful candidate will receive training in emissions monitoring, animal behaviour, systems modelling and GIS, as well as having the opportunity to work closely with industrial collaborators.

Funding Notes

This project is part of the NERC ONE Planet DTP. Each of our studentship awards include 3.5 years of fees (Home/EU), an annual living allowance (£15,650) and a Research Training Support Grant (for travel, consumables, etc).
Home and International applicants (inc. EU) are welcome to apply. Following the UKRI announcement regarding their new 30% UKRI international recruitment policy (to take effect from September 2021) both Newcastle University, and Northumbria University, have agreed to pay the international fee difference for all International applicants (inc. EU) who are awarded a DTP studentship. Interviews will take place in February 2022.
How to apply: View Website

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