City environments are drastically different from the natural environment of most bird species, yet some species are able to exploit urban landscapes very successfully. Over the last 40 years Lesser Black-back Gull populations have increased dramatically in many cities in the UK, establishing large urban nesting populations in many locations. The reasons for this sudden increase are unclear and little is known about the ecology of these urban nesting populations. This project sets out to look at the energetic costs of gulls living in urban environments in relation to the costs of flight in these cityscapes and the food resources available.
The air flows in cities are highly complex, but it appears that gulls are able to take advantage of these wind flows to reduce the cost of their flight. In this project global positioning system (GPS) backpacks will be fitted to urban nesting gulls and used to estimate their energetic flight costs in relation to computational models of the wind field. The food sources and feeding patterns of the gulls will also be monitored using accelerometers incorporated into the GPS backpacks in conjunction with field sampling. By combining these measurements the project aims to measure the energetics of urban nesting gulls in comparison to rural populations.
This project is part of a larger European Research Council (ERC) funded program looking at bird inspired technologies for autonomous flight and the successful candidate will work closely with aerospace engineers working on related projects. The project will also be supported by Dr Emily Shepard from the University of Swansea and Dr Judy Shamoun-Baranes from the University of Amsterdam, in the fields of Movement Ecology and Biosciences, and will involve regular travel to visit these collaborators.
Further Particulars -
Applications are welcomed from UK and EU students who have, or expect to obtain, a minimum 2:1 honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant discipline.
Though basic skills and knowledge are required, a strong scientific background is essential. Desirable qualities include experience with movement ecology, ornithological studies and/or biotelemetry datasets. Knowledge of geographic information systems (GIS), coding skills (MATLAB, R, or similar).
Scholarship covers full UK/EU PhD tuition fees and a tax-free stipend at the current RCUK rate (£14,057 in 2015/16). Both EU and UK nationals may apply and will be eligible for PhD tuition fees and a tax-free stipend.
For informal enquiries please contact Dr Shane Windsor, [email protected]
For general enquiries, please email [email protected]
To apply for this studentship submit a PhD application using our online application system [www.bristol.ac.uk/pg-howtoapply]
Please ensure that in the Funding section you tick “I would like to be considered for a funding award from the Aerospace Department” and specify the title of the scholarship in the “other” box below.