The impact of large carnivore recolonisation on ecological function in Northern Greece

Assessing the impact of brown bears at the landscape scale.

An opportunity for a fully-funded PhD studentship is currently being offered by the Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences at UWE Bristol.

The closing date for applications is Monday 6 February 2017.

About the studentship

This studentship provides an opportunity to monitor the ongoing recolonization of montane habitats by Eurasian brown bears (Ursus arctos arctos) in Northern Greece, and the impacts this may have on the ecological function.

Europe is one of the few continents in the world where large carnivores are actively expanding their range. This provides an opportunity to study the impacts that the restoration of large carnivores have on landscape-scale processes such as pollination, seed dispersal and grazing pressure by prey species. The impacts that grey wolves (Canis lupus) can have on ecological function are well described from some locations, most notably Yellowstone National Park, but there is currently little data to suggest how general these impacts are across different taxa and landscapes.

The Eurasian brown bear is recolonising patches of suitable habitat along a putative corridor which runs between core populations in the Pindos (Greece) and Rhodopi Mountains in Bulgaria. This project will assess the current level of landscape permeability for bears to move into recolonisation zones (ie habitats suitable for bears), assess the current level of bear activity in these areas and correlate this with parameters of ecological function.

The aims of this project are to:

  1. develop and evaluate novel methods to track the movement of bears through habitat corridors using invertebrate-derived DNA (iDNA).
  2. assess the functionality of landscape-scale habitat corridors for bear movements between core populations.
  3. elucidate the impacts that bears may have on ecological function, even at low density.

The student undertaking this project will receive in-depth training in ecological and genetic survey techniques and experience of working closely with strategic collaborators. 

Funding details

The studentship will start on Monday 3 April 2017 and consists of an annual tax-free stipend of £14,296 subject to satisfactory progress, for three years. In addition, full-time tuition fees will be covered for three years.

The studentship will only fully fund applicants who are eligible for Home/EU fees. Applicants who are normally required to cover overseas fees will have to cover the difference between the Home/EU and the overseas tuition fee rates.

Eligibility criteria

We are looking for a highly motivated and enthusiastic student capable of working independently with a broad interest in ecology and conservation. They should be willing to learn and develop the interdisciplinary skills required for this project.

This project will involve long periods of fieldwork in Northern Greece, therefore it is essential that the applicant is a fluent Greek speaker, and desirable that they have an existing knowledge of the habitats and study areas. Experience of GIS is essential with experience of mapping and modelling habitat corridors desirable. Although the successful student will receive in-depth training, it is desirable that applicants have some experience of molecular work. The successful applicant will be working primarily in an academic environment, supported by a range of experts, and should demonstrate a willingness to engage with collaborating organisations, such as local NGOs and regulatory bodies to whom this work will be of interest. 

Applicants must have a good honours degree (2.1 or equivalent) in Biological or Environmental disciplines. A relevant Masters qualification is desirable, but not essential if the applicant has relevant research experience. If the language of first degree or Master’s degree is not English, a recognised English language qualification is required. 

How to apply

Please read the further details document.

Download and complete the application form and send it directly to the UWE Graduate School. Please ensure you include the title of the research project you propose to undertake, and detail why you are interested in undertaking this PhD project and what relevant knowledge, experience and qualifications you would bring to the research. Please see the guidance notes for further information about how to complete the application form.

Please also complete the Equal Opportunities form and complete the first section of the Application reference sheet before sending to your nominated referees.

For an informal discussion about the studentship, please contact Dr Mark Steer 32 83496. 

Closing date

The closing date for applications is Monday 6 February 2017.

Further information

Interviews will take place in the week commencing 20 February 2017. 

If you have not heard from us by 20 February 2017, we thank you for your application but do not wish to pursue it on this occasion.

The starting date of this PhD studentship is Monday 3 April 2017.

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