Developing a strategic model for bat conservation legislation and planning -  applications of ecological modelling, mapping and spatial ecology for horseshoe bats

An opportunity to apply for a funded full-time PhD in the Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences, UWE Bristol.  The studentship will be funded by UWE Bristol and Natural England: Ref 1920-OCT-HAS02.

The expected start date of this studentship is Tuesday 1 October 2019

The closing date for applications is Thursday 1 August 2019. 

About the studentship

Habitat loss and fragmentation are among the main threats to biological diversity. Reversing these trends is a conservation priority, particularly in light of climate change. Agricultural intensification and urbanisation are the two main causes of habitat loss and fragmentation resulting in negative impacts on species and the habitat networks, which they rely upon for survival. Increasing pressure for new housing and food production combined with the pending exit of UK from the European Union means that UK environmental legislation and regulation is currently under review. Natural England (NE) is the Government body responsible for nature conservation regulation in England and are piloting a new streamlined strategy for delivery of the UKs legal obligations to protect bats termed the ‘Batlinks’ project.

Batlinks brings together key stakeholders to pool data and expert knowledge and translate into outputs (maps, tools and mechanisms) that can better target and co-ordinate investment in bat habitat management thereby delivering more resilient ecological networks.  Working in close partnership with NE this studentship will use tools including habitat suitability modelling and network mapping to develop evidence-based approaches to improve regulatory frameworks and deliver better conservation outcomes for bats. The project combines radio-tracking with ecological niche modelling (ENM) to identify environmental factors that limit the distribution of two threatened and ecologically important UK bat species (Rhinolophus hipposideros, and R. ferrumequinum) in the West of England around Bath, Bristol and Somerset.

The project is supervised by Dr Emma Stone and funded by UWE Bristol and Natural England. Data collection will involve night work radio tracking bats, conducting roost surveys as well as time working away from the university unsupervised. We are looking for candidates who are reliable, resourceful and have a positive attitude to the challenges of field work. Experience of ecological niche modelling, radio tracking and GIS is highly desirable. The ability to communicate effectively with a wide variety of stakeholders, including farmers, bat groups, ecologists, planners, the public, and research scientists is essential. Candidates must be able to drive and will begin data collection from April 2020. 

For an informal discussion about the studentship, please email Dr Emma Stone on

Funding details

The studentship is available from Tuesday 1 October 2019 for a period of three years, subject to satisfactory progress and includes a tax exempt stipend, which is currently £15,009 per annum. 

In addition, full-time tuition fees will be covered for up to three years (Home/EU rates only). Overseas applicants will be required to cover the difference between Home/EU and the overseas tuition fee rates in each year of study.

Eligibility criteria

Ideal candidates will have a strong background in biological science, with additional experience of geographical information systems, ecological niche modelling and statistical modelling, and have an aptitude for data analysis. Eligible applicants will hold an MSc and/or a First or high 2:1 BSc in a relevant subject and a UK driving licence.

A recognised English language qualification is required.

How to apply

Please submit your application online. When prompted use the reference number 1920-OCT-HAS02. You will need to upload your research proposal, all your degree certificates and transcripts and proof of English language proficiency as attachments to your application, so please have these available when you complete the application form.

Closing date

The closing date for applications is Thursday 1 August 2019.

Further information

If you have not heard from us by Monday 19 August 2019, we thank you for your application but on this occasion you have not been successful.

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