PhD: Impacts of pheasants on invertebrate and plant communities: A molecular approach

We are looking for a good graduate student to undertake a PhD:

Impacts of pheasants on invertebrate and plant communities: A molecular approach

Cock pheasant (www.davidmasonimages.com)The lead organisation is Exeter University with Prof Charles Tyler and Dr Joah Madden. The PhD will be co-supervised by Dr Rufus Sage at the GWCT and by Prof Sarah Perkins at Cardiff University.

There is some evidence that released pheasants can affect invertebrate and plant communities where they are released in woodlands. There are, however, a variety of mechanisms by which these effects can occur, for example by trampling, by management of shade, by direct predation or by eutrophication.

While the GWCT has considerable experience with field-based studies in these systems, the novel approach in this PhD is to develop environmental DNA techniques to better understand the mechanisms involved. In particular, the excellent Exeter University laboratory facilities will enable prey identification in faecal samples, microbiome analyses and bioinformatics support.

Pheasant woodsThe GWCT sees this PhD as a new opportunity to properly understand some of the impacts of releasing with the aim of developing techniques that reduce or eliminate these impacts.

The PhD is funded by NERC under a particularly prestigious programme (GW4+ DTP2), which is based on collaboration between select universities and with a ‘CASE’ or industrial partner (the GWCT). There is, in addition, an Exeter University Support Grant plus a contribution from the GWCT, so this is a very well-funded PhD.

We are looking for applications for candidates with very good degree qualifications, preferably with an MSc, and preferably with some relevant research experience. The PhD will only go ahead if we can find the right candidate.

Further details and application process

The deadline for applicants is 7 January 2019.

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