|Kingston upon Hull
|UK Students, EU Students, International Students
|From £18,622 per annum (22/23 rate)
|30th November 2023
|5th January 2024
Supervisors: Prof Rob Knell, Dr Lori Lawson Handley
In the late 1980s members of the public in the UK began reporting unusual mass mortalities of common frogs (Rana temporaria). These were caused by a virus from the FV3 group of ranaviruses, and FV3 ranaviruses are now recognised as a significant threat to amphibians in the UK, especially to common frogs which have suffered substantial population declines in the UK because of infection with these viruses. There have been multiple introductions of these viruses to the UK, and increasing temperatures in the UK appear to be exacerbating disease while human activities continue to redistribute the virus. There are many important questions which need to be answered if we are to predict the future of the epidemic and manage it to achieve the best outcomes for Britain’s amphibians.
This studentship will use cutting-edge approaches to understand and predict the ranavirus epidemic in Britain, including a survey of both ranavirus and amphibian communities using environmental DNA (eDNA) techniques, coupled with a recently developed non-lethal test for infection of individual animals. Citizen scientists will be recruited to collect water samples for eDNA analysis and to provide reports of amphibian mortality, allowing us to build a detailed picture of the spatio-temporal structure of both the amphibian community and the extent and dynamics of the ranavirus epidemic. The unprecedented insight this will give will enable the student, for example, to compare the structure of the community and the pattern of the epidemic between urban and rural environments, and to understand how infection varies with the community of amphibians.
The supervisory team for this project is ideal: Prof. Knell has experience in epidemiological modelling and in the use of eco-evo agent based models. Dr Lawson-Handley brings considerable expertise in aquatic eDNA sampling and analysis of ecological communities. Additional supervision from Prof. Garner (Institute of Zoology) will bring one of the leading authorities on ranavirus infection in UK amphibians into the project.
This project will provide students with a full PhD studentship. This consists of:
Minimum 2:1 Bachelors’ degree in a field linked to the PhD project. (You can apply straight after a Bachelors’ degree, but you will need to show how you are competitive with those with a Masters). We are seeking a dedicated and enthusiastic student with a strong interest in conservation. Either coding or mathematical experience will be a benefit, if not then a strong interest in learning modelling techniques is essential. The student will gain important skills in eDNA analyses, in handling and analysing big datasets, in coordinating citizen science studies and in developing and interpreting simulation models.
Apply now by clicking the 'Apply' button, above.
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