Prof Jim Groombridge, Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE), School of Anthropology and Conservation, University of Kent
Dr John Ewen, Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London
Dr Simon Tollington, School of Animal Rural & Environmental Sciences, Nottingham-Trent University
Deforestation in Central and South America, driven mainly by agriculture, has caused the endangerment of many species, some of which are fundamental to large-scale habitat protection. The Critically-Endangered Great Green Macaw is one of the World’s largest parrots with a vast range spanning six countries making it a flagship of Central/South American biodiversity. This species exemplifies the threat of habitat loss but also holds the key to driving regional/international landscape-level biodiversity conservation.
Reintroduction science has attracted renewed attention given the recent global focus on ‘rewilding’. However, data to inform methods for large Psittaciformes is under-developed, and it is increasingly evident that successful reintroductions of wide-ranging species require strong support from, and tangible benefits for local communities.
(A) examine patterns of post-release survival, disease prevalence and genetic/genomic diversity of reintroduced Great Green Macaws in Costa Rica. These data will then be compared to captive and wild macaw populations in Costa Rica, with potential to include populations in other range countries such as Colombia where future reintroductions may occur but where information on distribution and status is lacking.
(B) examine socio-economic opportunities and barriers to improving human livelihoods associated with changes in land-use required for macaw restoration and identify what are the perceived and actual benefits associated with tropical forest restoration for macaw conservation. Identifying ‘macaw-friendly’ sites will enable conservation activities to be targeted to communities where they have the greatest and most sustainable positive impact.
The student will work with the Macaw Recovery Network to conduct fieldwork and data collection through intensive monitoring and management of wild nests and reintroduced individuals, alongside surveying local communities in conservation efforts. They will, where appropriate, utilise MRN’s regional network for surveys of landowners. Labwork and data analyses will be carried out at facilities available via the supervisory team.
The student will gain skills in avian population monitoring and fieldwork, genetic/genomic analyses, disease-screening, and social science techniques.
We seek an enthusiastic individual with a strong academic background in natural sciences. Prior experience in avian fieldwork and fluency in Spanish is strongly desirable.