The ecology of carnivore movement
Dr P Stephens
Prof M Somers
No more applications being accepted
Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
Terrestrial carnivores represent a model taxon for exploring the relationship between consumers and their resources. This is because prey energy content is broadly comparable across a wide range of carnivore species, and because many individual studies simultaneously record the abundances and behaviours of carnivores and their prey. At the same time, many carnivores are imperilled, often by prey declines. Common approaches to monitoring carnivore abundance (track counts or camera traps), understanding predator-prey interactions, and predicting the consequences of prey declines, are all topical areas, and all depend crucially on understanding how carnivore movements are affected by changes in the abundance of prey. The increasing deployment of animal-attached technology to monitor the movement and energetics of free-living carnivores offers the potential to provide that understanding. Results from individual studies that relate movements to prey availability are not, themselves, of great interest. Consequently, this information is seldom published. However, substantial quantities of such information are now available. Working with field researchers to collate the underlying data will enable meta-analyses of the factors dictating carnivore daily movement patterns, with significant potential to answer diverse questions in conservation and ecology. The successful student will work with our collaborators in a range of countries to: 1. develop a network of carnivore researchers focused on the goal of understanding carnivore movements; 2. collate data on carnivore travel distances and potential environmental predictors (including prey availability); 3. build on the results from aim 2 to improve understanding of (i) the correlates of home range use intensity; (ii) the implications for monitoring carnivores; (iii) the applicability of gas models in predator prey theory and functional responses; and (iv) predator-prey dynamics and the consequences of prey declines. Willingness to travel, including to undertake periods of study in South Africa, is essential to the success of the project.
This project is in competition with others for funding. Success will depend on the quality of applications received, relative to those for competing projects. Successful candidates are likely to show internationally-leading potential, with a high quality bachelor's degree, a high quality MSc (or equivalent), and some evidence of relevant experience (ideally including experience with publication). If you are interested in applying, in the first instance contact the supervisor, with a CV and covering letter, detailing your reasons for applying for the project.
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