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PhD Studentship: Integrating Science and Practice for Macaw Reintroduction Biology and Conservation

University of Kent

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Canterbury
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students, International Students
Funding amount: £17,668 stipend plus fees and research funding
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 31st October 2022
Closes: 11th January 2023
Reference: BICKNELL_K23ARIES

Qualification Type: PhD – funded by NERC/ARIES

University of Kent – Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology, School of Anthropology and Conservation

Scientific background: Deforestation in Central and South America, driven mainly by agriculture, has caused the endangerment of many species, some of which are fundamental to large-scale habitat protection. The Critically-Endangered Great Green Macaw is one of the World’s largest parrots with a vast range spanning six countries making it a flagship of Central/South American biodiversity. This species exemplifies the threat of habitat loss but also holds the key to driving regional/international landscape-level biodiversity conservation. Reintroduction science has attracted renewed attention given the recent global focus on ‘rewilding’. However, data to inform methods for large Psittaciformes is under-developed, and it is increasingly evident that successful reintroductions of wide-ranging species require strong support from, and tangible benefits for local communities.

Objectives: This PhD project will;(A) examine patterns of post-release survival, disease prevalence and genetic/genomic diversity of reintroduced Great Green Macaws in Costa Rica. These data will then be compared to captive and wild macaw populations in Costa Rica, with potential to include populations in other range countries such as Colombia where future reintroductions may occur but where information on distribution and status is lacking. (B) examine socio-economic opportunities and barriers to improving human livelihoods associated with changes in land-use required for macaw restoration and identify what are the perceived and actual benefits associated with tropical forest restoration for macaw conservation. Identifying ‘macaw-friendly’ sites will enable conservation activities to be targeted to communities where they have the greatest and most sustainable positive impact.

Research methodology: The student will work with the Macaw Recovery Network to conduct fieldwork and data collection through intensive monitoring and management of wild nests and reintroduced individuals, alongside surveying local communities in conservation efforts. They will, where appropriate, utilise MRN’s regional network for surveys of landowners. Labwork and data analyses will be carried out at facilities available via the supervisory team.

Training: The student will gain skills in avian population monitoring and fieldwork, genetic/genomic analyses, disease-screening, and social science techniques.

Person specification: We seek an enthusiastic individual with a strong academic background in natural sciences. Prior experience in avian fieldwork and fluency in Spanish is strongly desirable.  

Candidates should apply by 12:00 am (UK time) on 11th January 2023 using the online application form.

For more information regarding eligibility etc., please see the ARIES doctoral training programme website.

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