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Job Vacancies & PhD Studentships

 

PhD StudentshipRestoring the Celtic Tiger – Wildcat conservation in western Britain

Application closing date: 20/01/2019

Location: Penryn, Cornwall

The award: The University of Exeter’s College of Life and Environmental Sciences, in partnership with Vincent Wildlife Trust and the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, is inviting applications for a fully-funded PhD studentship to commence in September 2019 or as soon as possible thereafter.  Funding is confirmed for this project. For eligible students the studentship will cover UK/EU tuition fees plus an annual tax-free stipend of at least £14,777 for 3.5 years full-time, or pro rata for part-time study and research expenses.  The student would be based in the Environment and Sustainability Institute in the College of Life and Environmental Sciences at the University’s Penryn Campus in Cornwall.

This award provides annual funding to cover UK/EU tuition fees and a tax-free stipend.  For students who pay UK/EU tuition fees the award will cover the tuition fees in full, plus at least £14,777 per year tax-free stipend.  Students who pay international tuition fees are eligible to apply, but should note that the award will only provide payment for part of the international tuition fee and no stipend.

The project:

Wildcats are Britain’s only Critically Endangered mammal. Following centuries of intensive predator control, wildcats are now protected but restricted to a population of about 200 individuals living in low productivity habitat in the Scottish Highlands, where they are threatened principally by hybridization with domestic cats. This project will investigate the potential for, and challenges to, wildcat recovery and restoration outside of their current Scottish refugium, to their former range in Wales and England.

The student will undertake interdisciplinary work towards understanding the ecological and social feasibility and practicalities of wildcat restoration. They will conduct qualitative studies of the challenges of reconciling wildcat conservation with the interests of domestic cat owners, and of potential conflict with farming and shooting interests. Quantitative studies will address the suitability of source populations of wildcats (including captive-breeding), population viability, landscape suitability and means of managing hybridization. Their academic aims will include building a social-ecological network around conservation of iconic species in contested landscapes, alongside delivering applied outcomes of protocols and practices towards reintroductions.

The student will work with partners at The Vincent Wildlife Trust (www.vwt.org.uk), who have recently led the successful restoration of pine martens to Wales, and global conservation leaders, the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust (www.durrell.org). Project supervisors are Professor Robbie McDonald of the University of Exeter’s Environment and Sustainability Institute (http://www.exeter.ac.uk/esi/people/profile/index.php?web_id=Robbie_McDonald), Dr Steve Carter of the Vincent Wildlife Trust and Dr Rich Young of the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust. Renowned conservationist Professor Carl Jones will be a project advisor.

Entry requirements

The project will suit a highly motivated conservation researcher who is keen to work at the interface of ecological and social sciences. You should have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK in a broadly relevant discipline. A Masters degree is desirable but not essential. Experience of working successfully in a research or conservation environment and in partnership with stakeholders is desirable. You should be comfortable working with cats and their owners. You will need to have the ability to get to locations for fieldwork that may not be accessible by public transport. If English is not your first language you will need to have achieved at least 6.5  in IELTS and no less than 6.0 in any section by the start of the project.  Alternative tests may be acceptable (see http://www.exeter.ac.uk/postgraduate/apply/english/).

For more details about the project and funding process please click here.

Apply

 

PhD Studentship: Ecological and Social Dimensions of Raptor Translocations

Application closing date: 20/01/2019

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Hen Harrier Circus cyaneus (Photo: Rob Zweers)

The award: The University of Exeter’s College of Life and Environmental Sciences, in partnership with Natural England, is inviting applications for a fully-funded PhD studentship to commence in March 2019 or as soon as possible thereafter.  For eligible students the studentship will cover UK/EU tuition fees plus an annual tax-free stipend of at least £14,777 for 4 years full-time, or pro rata for part-time study. Students who pay international tuition fees are eligible to apply, but should note that the award will only provide payment for part of the international tuition fee and no stipend. The studentship will be awarded on the basis of merit for 4 years of full-time study to commence in March 2019.  The student would be based in the Centre for Ecology and Conservation in the College of Life and Environmental Sciences at the Penryn Campus in Cornwall, supervised by Professor Dave Hodgson and Professor Robbie McDonald.

The project: 

Raptor introductions, reintroductions or translocations are rare, and the scientific literature associated with them is usually retrospective, considering in a historical context why they have succeeded or failed. The proposed translocation of hen harriers, Circus cyaneus, to southern England, presents an extraordinary opportunity to study a raptor translocation in its early stages and as it unfolds. The ecological drivers of translocation outcomes are manifold: including population viability; Allee effects; demographic stochasticity; environmental fluctuations; diet and other dimensions of ecological niche; prey population dynamics; breeding success; behavioural interactions; dispersal and natal philopatry. The social drivers are similarly manifold: deliberative practices, means of engagement and communications; existing disputes, wider conflicts and policy differences; complex relationships among individuals and stakeholder groups. Ecological and social processes are likely to interact, both in anticipation of and during the translocation. Incorporating social-ecological approaches will bring new insights into conservation practice in contested arenas.

This PhD will take a broad view of raptor translocations, using the case study of hen harriers in England, to deepen our understanding of the ecological and social drivers of the outcomes of these important conservation actions.

For more details about the project and funding process please click here.

Apply

Prospective Research Fellows & PhD Students

Professor McDonald is interested in supporting PhD students and collaborating with fellows in any of our key research areas:

  • Wildlife management and conservation
  • Conflicts and disputes about animals and their management
  • Ecology and management of domestic animals in the environment
  • Animal social networks and their implications for ecology and diseases
  • Ecology and management of introduced and invasive species

“Most of my work is conducted on mammals and birds in the UK, and this will continue to be the priority. Right now, I am especially keen to undertake further work on dormice and woodland management, predators, predation and shooting interests, badgers and bTB, cats, dogs and other domestic animals in the environment and other gnarly problems with wildlife.

I am especially keen on supervising students in collaboration with colleagues in other disciplines, across campus and beyond. Most of my PhD projects on badgers and TB are undertaken in this way. PhD supervision is also undertaken in collaboration with a number of my colleagues at partner organisations, including Professor Richard Shore at Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Professor Dez Delahay at National Wildlife Management Centre, Dr Henry Schofield and Dr Jenny Macpherson at The Vincent Wildlife Trust, Dr Robin Gill at Forest Research, Dr Ruth Cromie at Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and Dr Menna Jones at the University of Tasmania. I also co-supervise students across the GW4+ network with Dr Sarah Perkins and Dr Liz Chadwick at Cardiff University.

For all PhD students, funding is hard to come by and all scholarships for which I have secured funding will be advertised here and on findaphd.com.

I am always keen to hear from UK resident graduates, with excellent academic credentials with a view to applying for Doctoral Training Partnership and other highly competitive scholarships. If you fit this bill and are keen to develop a project in the areas above, or related areas, get in touch at any time.”

The next entry date for PhD students is September 2019, with applications between now and then.