After the gold rush: vertebrate communities in abandoned gold mines and implications for restoration

CASE award with Conservation International - Guyana (BICKNELL_K20ARIES)

After the gold rush: vertebrate communities in abandoned gold mines and implications for restoration

CASE award with Conservation International - Guyana (BICKNELL_K20ARIES)

Project Description

Supervisors

Dr Jake Bicknell, School of Anthropology and Conservation, University of Kent; Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE)

Dr Matthew Struebig, School of Anthropology and Conservation, University of Kent; Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology

Prof Zoe Davies, School of Anthropology and Conservation, University of Kent; Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology

Mr Curtis Bernard, Conservation International Guyana

 

Scientific background

Across Amazonia, small scale gold mining is on the rise. Over the last decade, this has led to a sharp increase in localised deforestation. The impacts of mines on biodiversity are largely unknown, but since mining removes entire areas of vegetation and soils, impacts are likely to be marked. Vertebrates are ideal for studying the responses of biodiversity to mining because they are likely to play a vital role in the regeneration of these areas via seed dispersal and other functions.

Research methodology

This PhD will undertake a comprehensive field survey in a landscape dominated by gold mines scattered throughout the tropical forests of central Guyana. Employing a paired, mine-forest study design, the study will seek to understand the relationship between biodiversity and different characteristics of existing mines (e.g. size, shape, age, and vegetation). Data will be collected on birds, mammals, and regenerating patches of vegetation, and will seek to understand the relationship between vertebrates and regeneration, and use this to conduct cutting-edge land-use planning across the landscape.

Training

This project is embedded in Conservation International (CI) Guyana’s Responsible Mining Initiative. The student will work closely with CI, and will have an opportunity to undertake an internship to assist CI in their mining impacts mitigation work, providing a wider perspective on the issues associated with gold mining.

The student will receive training in transferable skills through the ARIES NERC Doctoral Training Partnership, and will also be trained in specific census techniques (bird point counts and mist netting, camera trapping, vegetation plots), as well as analytical skills (e.g. spatial analyses in ArcGIS/QGIS, and statistical modelling in R, community analysis using PC-ORD). Over the course of the PhD, the student will also gain academic skills, in particular writing papers, and presenting at conferences and engaging with government departments.

Person specification

We seek a highly motivated individual excited by the prospect of conducting research in a remote tropical forest in central Guyana. The successful candidate will have a degree in conservation/ecology/zoology/ENV, analytical skills and fieldwork experience. He/she will also be willing to work collaboratively with conservation NGOs and government agencies.

References

  • Kalamandeen, M., Gloor, E., Mitchard, E., Quincey, D., Ziv, G., Spracklen, D., Spracklen, B., Adami, M., Aragão, L.E.O.C. & Galbraith, D. (2018) Pervasive Rise of Small-scale Deforestation in Amazonia. Scientific Reports, 8, 1600.
  • Bicknell, J.E., Collins, M.B., Pickles, R.S.A., McCann, N.P., Bernard, C.R., Fernandes, D.J., Miller, M.G.R., James, S.M., Williams, A.U., Struebig, M.J., Davies, Z.G. & Smith, R.J. (2017) Designing protected area networks that translate international conservation commitments into national action. Biological Conservation, 214, 168-175.
  • Pfeifer, M., Lefebvre, V., Peres, C.A., Banks-Leite, C., Wearn, O.R., Marsh, C.J., Butchart, S.H.M., Arroyo-Rodríguez, V., Barlow, J., Cerezo, A., Cisneros, L., D’Cruze, N., Faria, D., Hadley, A., Harris, S.M., Klingbeil, B.T., Kormann, U., Lens, L., Medina-Rangel, G.F., Morante-Filho, J.C., Olivier, P., Peters, S.L., Pidgeon, A., Ribeiro, D.B., Scherber, C., Schneider-Maunoury, L., Struebig, M., Urbina-Cardona, N., Watling, J.I., Willig, M.R., Wood, E.M. & Ewers, R.M. (2017) Creation of forest edges has a global impact on forest vertebrates. Nature, 551, 187.
  • Bicknell, J.E., Struebig, M.J. & Davies, Z.G. (2015) Reconciling timber extraction with biodiversity conservation in tropical forests using reduced-impact logging. Journal of Applied Ecology, 52, 379-388.
  • Gardner C. J., Bicknell J.E., Ashley-Cantello, W. Struebig M.J. & Davies Z.G. Quantifying the impacts of defaunation on natural forest regeneration worldwide. In press at Nature Communications.

Key Information

  • This project has been shortlisted for funding by the ARIES NERC Doctoral Training Partnership, and will involve attendance at mandatory training events throughout the course of the PhD.
  • Successful candidates who meet UKRI’s eligibility criteria will be awarded a NERC studentship - UK and EU nationals who have been resident in the UK for 3 years are eligible for a full award.
  • Excellent applicants from quantitative disciplines with limited experience in environmental sciences may be considered for an additional 3-month stipend to take advanced-level courses in the subject area (see https://www.aries-dtp.ac.uk/supervisors/additional-funding/).
  • This studentship will start on 1st October 2020, and the closing date for applications is 12:00 on 7th January 2020.
  • Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed on 18/19 February 2020.
  • For further information, please contact the supervisor.
  • Please note that the joint NERC-ESRC ARIES-SeNSS studentship projects have different deadlines and funding arrangements. For full details please visit https://senss-dtp.ac.uk/aries-senss-joint-studentship, or contact SeNSS.dtp@uea.ac.uk.

Further Information

Formal internal interviews for this project will be held on 31st January 2020 at the University of Kent

Studentship Open for Applications

Apply Now