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PhD in Biosciences studentship: Dormouse conservation and woodland management, NERC GW4+ DTP

University of Exeter - Biosciences

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Penryn
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: £14,777
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 6th November 2018
Closes: 7th January 2019
Reference: 3319
 

Supervisory team:

Prof Robbie McDonald, University of Exeter

Prof Mike Bruford, Cardiff university

Alice Broome, Forest Research

Dr Frank Hailer, Cardiff University

This project is one of a number that are in competition for funding from the NERC Great Western Four+ Doctoral Training Partnership (GW4+ DTP). The partnership aims to provide a broad training in earth and environmental sciences, designed to train tomorrow’s leaders in earth and environmental science. For further details about the programme please see http://nercgw4plus.ac.uk/

Despite their strict protection and major conservation efforts, populations of hazel dormice Muscardinus avellanarius in England and Wales continue to decline. Recent analyses by the University of Exeter (Goodwin et al 2017) identified a 72% decline in dormouse populations from 1993 to 2014 and suggested that the species could be categorized as Endangered in the UK. Our recent work (Goodwin et al 2018a, b) has also highlighted the importance of improving woodland management to enhance the conservation status of the species in the UK. This collaborative CASE project will involve fieldwork on dormice and forestry practice. The student will work alongside key conservation organisations to build on recent work on dormouse ecology and to evaluate and improve woodland management practices in order to reverse the fortunes of this most endearing British mammal.

The overall aim of this project is to understand variation in dormouse conservation status, evaluate woodland management and provide evidence for improved practices to support dormouse recovery in the UK. This will be achieved by extensive analysis of dormouse populations and of woodland characteristics, using remotely sensed data, accompanied by intensive surveys of dormice and habitats in a sample of commercial and non-commercial, broadleaf and coniferous woodlands. The student will survey woodland managers to understand practice in relation to conservation regulation and commercial and other management objectives. The student will also have the opportunity to employ molecular genetic techniques to understand dormouse population processes and to develop population models to understand how variation in practice might affect populations in the long term. The student will work at public and private forests across England and Wales, sampling sites at which dormice are thriving and sites where they are in decline. The project will require extended periods of fieldwork away from Cornwall, and periods in the laboratory in Cardiff and at Forest Research.

Forest Research is the CASE partner, and will host placements in the field and at FR research stations. This is also a partnership project with two GW4+ Collaborative Partners: Natural England and Natural Resources Wales. NE and NRW are members of the UK Dormouse Biodiversity Steering Group and will also offer policy placement opportunities, allowing the student to shadow specialist conservation advisors

For eligible successful applicants, the studentships comprises:   An index-linked stipend for 3.5 years (currently £14,777 p.a. for 2018/19); Payment of university tuition fees; A research budget of £11,000 for an international conference, lab, field and research expenses; A training budget of £4,000 for specialist training courses and expenses. 

   
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